Best Tech Gifts For Mother’s Day 2021

Treat the Mom’s in your life to the best tech gifts available in 2021.

Looking for the best tech gifts to give the Moms in your life this year? I have rounded up some of my favourite tech gifts to consider this year!


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FOSSIL GEN 5 JULIANNA STAINLESS STEEL – $269 – $390

One of the biggest times draws is picking up our phones to check if that notification was important or not. A smartwatch is a device that is going to save Mom loads of time.  The Apple Watch is always the go to for most lists like this, or a Fitbit, but there are dozens of other great looking smartwatches to consider.

The Fossil Gen 5 runs Google’s Wear OS platform and works with Android and iPhone. 

This watch offers swim proofing, so there is no need to remove it before jumping in the pool, taking a shower or a trip to the beach. 

Other useful features are heart rate tracking, Google Assistant, built-in GPS and Google Pay integration for contactless payment. 


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AIR PODS – $226 OR AIR PODS PRO – $262-$329

If Mom uses an iPhone, there should only be one consideration for earbuds and that is either the Air Pods or Air Pods Pro. 

Both options provide iPhone users with seamless integrations into Apple’s iOS for features like “Hey Siri” and quick pairing. The quick pairing feature begins as soon as the Air Pod case is opened within the vicinity of your iPhone. 

Air Pods (left) and Air Pods Pro (right)

Battery life is also respectable for both options with the regular Air Pods getting 5 hrs. of listening time per charge and an additional 24 hrs. of charge via the Air Pod case. The Air Pods Pro offer only 4.5 hrs. of playing time per charge with the same 24 hrs. of additional charge via the case.  

The only reason to consider the Pro is for their Active Noise Cancellation feature which will block out all outside noise. Something I am sure all Moms could use from time to time!

It is also worth noting that the Air Pods work with Android too. You won’t have access to Hey Siri or Apple’s quick pairing feature.


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EMBER TEMPERATURE CONTROL SMART MUG 2 – $149.99

The EMBER TEMPERATURE CONTROL SMART MUG is something I have had my eyes on for years. The mug has a built-in battery which powers a small heating coil in the base of the mug. Controllable via a smartphone app, you can keep your coffee or other hot drink at your desired temperature for up to 90 minutes.  

Ember Smart Mug 2 & App

This is something all Mom’s, especially those with younger kids, will appreciate. There is nothing worse than making your coffee, sitting down to enjoy it only to have to deal with any number of things your kids may throw at you. When you finally sit down again, your coffee is ice cold!


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FACEBOOK PORTAL MINI – $119-$179

ECHO SHOW 5 – $64.99-$99.99

Regardless of if we are stuck at home due to a pandemic or going about our lives like we used to, and hope to be doing soon, a device like an Echo Show or Facebook Portal is a great idea for Mother’s Day. I have grouped these together because the decision comes down to the ecosystem your Mother and she wants to connect with are in. If your family is firmly in the Amazon ecosystem and you already have echo devices throughout the house, the Echo Show would be the best pick. Not only does it provide the video calling capability to others using an Echo, but the tie into the rest of Amazon’s ever-growing network of services is a big plus. 

However, if Amazon’s ecosystem is not where other friends and family are invested, the Facebook Portal is the next best option. 

Facebook’s Portal allows you to chat with anyone using Facebook Messenger. The device has a camera built in that uses a feature called “Smart Camera” which allows you to move around the room freely while the camera always keeps you in the frame. 

A bonus to the Portal is that it is also Amazon Alexa enabled, allowing the device to perform nearly all the same tasks the Echo Show can. 

Finally, the Portal doubles as a digital picture frame which can display random or selected albums of Facebook photos.  

Facebook Portal Mini
Echo Show 5

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EUFY BY ANKER, BOOSTIQ ROBOVAC 15C MAX – $399

We are all starved for time, especially if you are a busy Mom with young kids running around. Finding time to do housework is a challenge. One item many people think is an unnecessary luxury is a smart vacuum, and until recently I would have completely agreed with that sentiment. Until we got our first smart vacuum. 

Smart vacuums like the Anker Eufy Robovac are not going to do a deep clean, like a Dyson will, but sending it out each day to stay on top of the crumbs, dirt and dog hair that inevitably is spread across the house is a lifesaver. With our kids and dogs there is always some sort of mess being spread around the floors. Having a smart vacuum is a vital part of keeping our house clean, while also freeing us up to take on other tasks. 

If you do opt for a smart vacuum, you will need to consider your needs Anker offers various versions of its Eufy Robovac. The Robovac 15C offers up to 2000pa of suction, is WI-FI connected and is Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant enabled, allowing you to start vacuuming by voice command.

Eufy’s BoostIQ technology allows the Robovac to adjust its vacuuming settings when it detects a different type of surface, which is great if you are moving from hardwood to carpet.


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TILE MATE – 2 PACK – $52.99

The Tile tracker has long been the stalwart of every gift guide found on the internet so I would be remiss to exclude it from this one! 

Tile is a Bluetooth device tracker that lets you keep track of whatever it attached to. Be it keys, a bag, the dog or a toddler, the tile can be found via its companion app. 

If your Tile-equipped item is within 200m of your phone, the Tile app can locate you item by playing an audible tone. If you are beyond the 200m range, the Tile app will show you the last location your item was when connected to your phone. 

Finally, the biggest strength of the Tile, and its long-standing popularity, is the Tile network. If you leave an item somewhere while on a trip, and how no luck tracking it down using the above methods, the next time another Tile user gets within range of your Tile, the app will alert you with its location. 


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That’s all for this years list? Are there any items that you would have added to the list? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to check out my Best Camping Tech for 2021 if you are planning on doing any camping or hiking this year!

Smartphone Apps Gadget Syrup Cannot Live Without

We can do nearly anything on our phones today. In fact, I can run my entire site from my phone. Want to see how? Check out the apps Gadget Syrup cannot live without.

As time goes on, we can do more and more day-to-day work from our smartphones. Some people I know run their entire life off their phone, never sitting down at a computer to get things done.

I recently started looking at home much I actually do from my phone and I was quite surprised how much I do, or can do from my phone.

As a result, I wanted to compile a list of the apps and services I use on mobile to run Gadget Syrup. Check it out!



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WordPress

This first one is self-explanatory. This is the WordPress mobile app. It allows me to monitor stats, create or posts and reply to comments, among other things all from my phone. You can even write a whole post from the mobile app. However, not only is it a lot of work to create a quality post on a screen this size, a lot of WordPress blocks are not compatible or able to be added from the app.

WordPress

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Asana

Asana is a take management application that I have been a religious user of for last 3-4 yrs. Ideally, you use it with a team of people but for a content and admin planning tool it is a must. Best of all, for most of what you need, you can use Asana completely free of charge.

Asana

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Google Analytics

Another obvious one by the title. Google Analytics gives you details on anything you could ever want to know about your websites traffic. It is far superior to what the WordPress stats offer.

Google Analytics

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Creator Studio

This one is new to the list. From Facebook, Creator Studio gives you analytics on your Facebook page tied to your business or website. It focuses a lot of video creators, but still works well to triage comments.

Facebook Creator Studio

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Buffer

Planning is everything when it comes to running your own site and social channels.

I have been a Buffer user for a decade now, using it to schedule Tweets and Facebook posts for Gadget Syrup.

Buffer can also setup Instagram posts among other social accounts, but it works best for Twitter and Facebook.

Buffer


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Later

Later is a service I have used off and on for the past year. It allows you to schedule social posts, like Buffer, but I only use it for Instagram posts. It is very handy if you find your best time to post is a time where you may not be there to post. Set it and forget it!

Their Instagram account is also a great follow!

Later

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Canva

I am not a graphic designer, but I like to pretend! Canva enables users of any level to create axing designs using their templates. They offer various presets for posts like Stories and Feed posts on Instagram as well as Twitter, Facebook and others ensuring your creation is the proper ratio for the given network.

Canva

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Snapseed

Snapseed is a powerful photo editing app that has been available for years.

It is owned by Google l, and they have been rolling a lot of the features of Snapseed into Google Photos. However, Snapseed still has a lot to offer if you want to add a little more to your pictures.

Snapseed

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Regrann

Regrann is the best all-around Instagram repost app available, on Android at least.

You can repost to your feed, stories or just save the image/story to your camera roll.

It is worth the purchase for the upgraded version too allowing you to remove watermarking and the “posted with Regrann” message from your posts.

Regrann

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PanoramaCrop

PanoramaCrop is another new one I have used only a few times. The app helps you create perfectly sized divided images for your feed that flow from left to right like one single image.

PanoramaCrop

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Pexels and Unsplash

I grouped Pexels and Unsplash together because for all intents and purposes they are the same thing. Each app has an enormous collection of free stock images to use. I have started using them both to generate feature images for the pages pf Gadget Syrup, as well as the hero image for some blog posts.

Both services also offer their services on the web to use from your PC.

Pexels
Unsplash

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Snapmod

This is one of my favourite apps. Snapmod contains hundreds of smartphones renders and through this very well-designed app you can insert screenshots from your device onto a render of your device or any other.

You’ll also notice that all of the app screenshots in this article were created with Snapmod!

There are a few caveats to be aware of now that many devices come with different screen ratios and the placement of any notches or camera cutouts will make your screen shot look out of place.

I’ve also noticed the developer for this app is slow to add new models, sometimes months after a phones release. In time, my feeling is that this app will stop being updated. Fingers crossed I am wrong!


Snapmod

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As you can see it is a pretty long list of apps. Do you use any in your day to day? Are there any other apps you would suggest I look at? Let me know in the comments below.


Check out some recent posts from Gadget Syrup

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#HelloMoto – Motorola is Turning 90!

Motorola is one of the most iconic technology brands ever. They brought us the first ever mobile phone, the DynaTAC 8000X, the StarTac flip-phone, the Razr and the first truly modular phones.

Motorola is celebrating its 90th birthday right now, so lets take a quick trip down memory lane and check out some stellar deals from Moto to celebrate this amazing achievement.

 #90YearsofMotorola - Motorola, founded in 1928, with only 5 employees is celebrating its 90th birthday with some great deals.  Photo: https://twitter.com/Moto/status/1044512586937577472
#90YearsofMotorola – Motorola, founded in 1928, with only 5 employees is celebrating its 90th birthday with some great deals. Photo: https://twitter.com/Moto/status/1044512586937577472

If you are a die-hard geek you, at one point or another, were probably a big fan of Motorola. This company has delivered some of the most iconic devices in mobile communications history and holds a place in the hearts of many.

My first Motorola device that I remember was the original Motorola Razr. This phone and its ultra futuristic design launched smartphone design into the future thanks to its sharp corners, excellent screen and sci-fi-like number pad. I loved this phone. Like the iPhone today, the Razr was a status symbol and if you weren’t fortunate enough to have one, you almost never wanted to take your phone out of your pocket. Since then, I have carried several different Motorola phones and devices. They pretty much nail the user experience every time. The only complaint I have about their phones of late is the camera. If they could sort that out, I would never look at my Pixel XL again.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, first, I like to reminisce about old tech and gadgets that I have had or used over the years, but I am specifically focused on Motorola because the now Lenovo owned company is celebrating its 90th birthday (and I’m a big fan!). Being a relevant brand for 90 years is an outstanding achievement, but being a relevant and leading company for 90 years in the technology sector is even more impressive.

In honor of this great achievement Motorola is running some deals that you may want to check out. See below!

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moto e series phones

  • moto e4 plus – $20-$30 off (16GB-32GB); sale price $149.99-$169.99

moto g series phones

  • moto g5 plus – $30-$60 off (32GB-64BG); sale price $199.99-$239.99

  • moto g5s plus – $40-$100 off (32GB-64GB); sale price $239.99-$249.99

  • moto g6 – $20 off; sale price $229.99

moto x series phones

  • moto x4 – $100 off 32GB, sale price $299.99

– $60 off 64GB; sale price $359.99

moto z series phones

Personally, the Moto Z3 Play with the Alexa speaker mod is my favourite. I have been testing both as part of an extended review of the Z3 and several Moto Mods and at this point, the Alexa Speaker has been the most useful of the lot.

Stay tuned for a lot more Motorola content on GadgetSyrup. Motorola is a brand I have been a big fan of for many years and have truly enjoyed testing and reviewing their devices of late!

Motorola Continues To “Push Boundaries” Announcing The Moto G6 and E5

Five years ago Motorola surprised us all with the launches of the Moto G and E series of phones. They were incredibly well built, very pleasant to use and were incredibly affordable. 

Now, Moto has announced the release of the next generation G and E phones. Check them out!

The focus of the Moto G and E series of phones was to address a gap in the smartphone market that saw incredibly powerful high-end phones at the top and incredibly low-powered and low-quality phones on the bottom of the market.

Moto wanted to fill the gap in the middle with well built, well-performing smartphones that were reasonably priced. The mission they set out on seemed a bit far-fetched given the recent misses the company had prior to the launch of their mid-rangers.

Enter the Moto G and, well, the rest, they say, is history. As we now know, the Moto G quickly became the best selling smartphone in Motorola history. Year over year Moto has refreshed this lineup, as well as the lower-end E line, and despite not outselling the original, the G and E series impress users and reviews alike with each iteration.

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Now Moto has announced and released the latest members of the G and E series with the launch of the moto g6 and e5. There are actually several flavors of each the g and g line. They are as follows:

  • moto g6: starting at $249 MSRP

  • moto g6 play: starting at $199 MSRP

  • moto e5 plus: pricing dependant on carrier

  • moto e5 play: pricing dependant on carrier

  • moto g6 plus and moto e5 also released, but not to North America

All devices will be launching with Android™ 8.0, Oreo™ and are packed with different versions of Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors.

I won’t cover off the specs of each phone, as reviews of select G6 and E5 devices will be coming shortly but will share a few highlights I am looking forward too with some of these phones.

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Play All Day

The “Play” version of the G6 comes with a huge 4000mAh battery that powers the Snapdragon™ 427 processor. That battery and SoC combo are going to be capable of some incredible endurance. According to Motorola, you can expect to get up to 36 hrs of on a single charge. Obviously, your mileage will vary based on your use, but leaving the house for the day sans charger and battery pack will not be a problem. Don’t expect to be gaming on this type of device, however. The Snapdragon™ 427 isn’t going to be capable of much here.

What makes this device even more compelling, battery life aside is its price. The moto g6 play will set you back only $199 USD. Learn more about the moto g6 play HERE.

Not available in North America, the moto e5 should be an excellent consideration for those in Europe Asia. The e5 battery pack dwarfs that of the g6, coming in at 5000 mAh. Not mention it has a 6″ display as well, so multimedia use with this phone should be a strong selling point.

Camera Improvements, Hopefully

Moto phones do so much right, the software additions provided through various “moto actions” such as a twisting your wrist to opening the camera, a double-chop for the flashlight and moto voice functions allowing you to program any hot-word you like to access Google Assitant (I use “Okay Friday”, because I am giant nerd) making their devices some of the most compelling devices on the market. However, the biggest reason they are overlooked by most power users and tech-types is the less than wonderful camera experience. 

With the moto g6 and g6 plus (not play) come packing dual camera setups and software that hopes to get these devices noticed on store shelves. Having a dual-lens setup will allow for features like selective focus to be implemented. A niche, but handy feature to have when the situation suits.

I should also mention, the moto g6 is priced incredibly well, like those before it, and starts at only $249 USD.

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What do you think of Motorola’s latest offerings? Have you ever owned a g or e series phone? 

You can learn more about all upcoming moto g6 and e5 series phones on the Motorola Blog. Check them out! 

Moto Z2 Play Now Available At Videotron With A Very Enticing Add-On

If you’re a Videotron cutomer and are looking for a new device you should certainly check out the Moto Z2 Play. Not only is this an excellent phone, for a limited time customers will receive a Moto Instal-Share Projector Mod at no extra cost. That is a savings of $400 CAD!

Good news if you’re a Videotron customer! Starting today customers can purchase the Moto Z2 Play from Videotron for $0.00 on when purchased with a contract or $469.95 CAD outright.

Not only is this an excellent deal for customers looking for a solid and incredibly versatile phone thanks to its “moto-mod” ecosystem of accessories. For a limited time, customers who purchase the Z2 Play will receive a free Moto Insta-Share Projector Mod. That is a $399.99 value for FREE!



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The Moto Z2 is a very solid middle to upper-class device. The spec sheet breaks down as follows.


  • 5.5″ AMOLED HD Display
  • Snapdragon 626 CPU
  • 12 MP Rear Camera w/ 4K video
  • 5 MP Front Camera
  • 3000 mAh Battery
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 32 GB Internal Storage + a microSD Slot (up to 256 GB)
  • USB C with Motorola Turbo Charge Tech
  • Nano SIM

It is worth noting that the Z2 Play lacks the 3.5 mm “courage” port, otherwise known as a headphone jack. If you decide to pick up the Moto Z2 play you will want to look for a reliable pair of Bluetooth headphones. My personal pick would be the Aukey EP-B61s which reviewed a while back. Check that review out here.


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I have always been a big fan of Motorola phones which was intensified with the release of Moto X in 2013. The suite of Motorola software, specifically Moto Voice have been incredibly useful to users and tend to offer more than what others, Google included, are offering to users.


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If you’re a Videotron customer, does this deal have your attention? The Z2 may not be at the flagship level of the S8 and Pixel 2, but the Snapdragon 626 is very power-efficient and the growing (slowly, but growing) ecosystem of Moto Mods is a very appealing proposition to potential customers. You can learn more about Moto Mods here.

Head over to Videotron’s website to check this deal out.

Android Wear 2.0 Causing Your Google Reminders Disappear?

Android Wear 2.0 was supposed to be a major improvement for those users still supporting the Wear platform. There were many excellent additions and updates made. However, one major bug that was introduced with Wear 2.0 causes Google Now/Assistant reminders to disappear immediately after being triggered. There is a fix, but it comes with a caveat. 

If you are one of the few people who still actively use an Android Wear device and were fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your point-of-view) enough to receive the update to Android Wear 2.0 you may have noticed that Google Now/Assistant reminders seem to disappear into the abyss immediately after they are triggered.

Here is a quick and easy fix for you, but it does come with a few caveats.


My device pairing is a Google Pixel XL and the Motorola Moto 360 Sport. I can confirm that this issue was present on other Android devices running both Android 7 and 8. This problem is also only present on Android Wear devices running version 2.0. Previous versions are not affected.


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The Issue

Setting a reminder with Google Now/Assistant shows momentarily on your device then is automatically cleared from the notification pane. Checking the reminders part of the Google App will show your reminder as “Ongoing.” 


The Solution

  1. Open Android Wear
  2. Select the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner to open settings
  3. From the settings screen select “Block app notifications.”
  4. Click the + sign at the bottom the screen
  5. Select “Google” from the list of apps available to block


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That’s it! You will now receive your Google Now/Assistant reminder notification but only on your phone. Since you have prevented the Google App from sending notifications to your Wear device, they will not be seen. The other caveat here is that not only will reminders not be shown on your wrist, but nothing from the Google App will be passed through. This means that traffic, weather, sports, etc. will only show on the phone and not the watch. For me that is fine. I use my watch for text/email notifications and, well, obviously to see what time it is.

Google is said to be aware of this bug, but given the amount of time it has taken to roll Android Wear 2.0 out to supported devices, I would not hold my breath on waiting for a proper fix.

Are you suffering from this bug? Did this fix help you at all? Let me know!

HURU All-Weather Backpack Preview

HURU is an all-weather backpack that is launching today, September 26th, 2017, on Kickstarter with the goal of being your go-to bag for every possible scenario. It is designed for “both the office and the outdoors and is constructed using premium materials: army-approved, water-resistant Cordura fabric; best in the world YKK zippers; and custom steel stoppers and fasteners.”

If you are like me you do not know how to go out for an extended period of time without a completely unnecessary swath of different gadgets, cables, batteries and other tech gear, than you may be interested in what I am sharing with you today. Before I get to the goods though, let me set up the back story and reasons why I am very interested in this product.

This summer we took two extended vacations and each time I left home with at least 4 phones, 2 cameras, 2-3 laptops, several cables, portable batteries, SD cards, etc. Did I need all this stuff, maybe not? Did I want to have all this stuff because I have an issue where I over pack on the tech side, maybe…probably…ok, yes I do.

Why tell you this? Well, taking all of this stuff isn’t such an easy task when the bag you’re using isn’t designed to handle everything you’re going to throw at it. Of the several backpacks and messenger style bags, I have available, not one has the right amount of storage, or is not the size, or isn’t comfortable to wear for long periods. The bag I elected to go with on each trip was a standard run-of-the-mill laptop backpack with a handful of generic, yet mostly useless compartments. It simply doesn’t cut it.

That is where the HURU backpack comes into play. Read on the learn more about this incredibly versatile pack.


What is HURU?

HURU is an all-weather backpack that is launching today, September 26th, 2017, on Kickstarter with the goal of being your go-to bag for every possible scenario. It is designed for “both the office and the outdoors and is constructed using premium materials: army-approved, water-resistant Cordura fabric; best in the world YKK zippers; and custom steel stoppers and fasteners.”

Oh, and in case you were wondering what HURU stands for; I know I certainly was. “HURU” is Swahili for “free” or “freedom”. Why that name? Keep reading, I think it will all make sense after seeing everything HURU has to offer.



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The HURU backpack comes loaded with useful features. Here are the top 10 outlined by the HURU team:

  1. The belt, which can be transformed into a detachable waist bag. Just take it off, put your wallet, bank cards, phone, keys and other valuables in it and go on exploring the city while leaving your backpack safe in the hotel or in the car.
  2. HURU is water-resistant. You don’t need an extra cover for the backpack. No drop of water will get inside HURU and damage belongings, as it is constructed using water-resistant Cordura fabric, YKK zippers and a real leather base.
  3. Water-resistant hood stored in the backpack, ready to protect the owner from unexpected showers.
  4. HURU backpack opens like a suitcase, which makes makes packing for a trip very easy.
  5. HURU’s capacity is 22 liters and it is expandable to 40 liters in one simple move.
  6. Backpack fits into the hand luggage compartment on the airplane, so your belongings are always with you during the flight.
  7. A lateral stiffness plastic base is installed in the backpack’s rear section to spread the load across the whole back, thus drastically decreasing pressure on parts of the spine that would normally be compromised by backpack usage. This is really important for anatomical and physiological well-being, reducing the spinal load as much as possible.
  8. Each strap has a secret pocket for keys, bank cards or an ID card. These pockets can easily be accessed by the backpack owner, but not by a thief.
  9. In addition to the main section of the bag, HURU has two extra compartments: one for a 15 inch laptop and a smaller one for a book, a tablet, or some documents. The backpack also has a separate roll-up compartment where you can store items up to 20.6 inches (53 cm high), such as a tennis racket or a skateboard.
  10. There is a special heat insulating compartment to store drinks.

HURU Features Gallery


I want our customers to enjoy the combination of functionality and awesome design that HURU embodies. We made sure that our backpacks look and feel great both on the inside and on the outside.

— Olg Vlasenko – Founder of HURU

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Why I Like The HURU Backpack

The HURU back appears to be the bag that is trying to do it all. It checks almost all of the important boxes when looking for a good gear bag and it is also doubling as a suitcase making, what I think, maybe the perfect travel luggage.

For me, a few of the most notable features are water-resistance, a dedicated documents compartment, ergonomic backing and chest and waist support. The high-quality aluminum fasteners are also an excellent touch. If this bag is going to handle everything the team behind HURU intends you to, the zippers and fasteners must be built to last.

The HURU bag also includes another incredibly useful feature. The bags belt is detachable, turning into a shoulder-sling or waist-pack of sorts which would be very useful to someone such as myself when out-and-about with my wife and kids. Keeping my phone, wallet and keys in a pocket is not always ideal or possible depending on the outing. I can see this being just as useful as the backpack itself on many occasions.

Long story short. This backpack is built to last!


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Check Out The HURU in Action


Where Can I Get My Own HURU?

The HURU backpack, as mentioned, launches on Kickstarter today and backers looking to snag a HURU can pledge $250 for one backpack and up to $2400 for a set of ten backpacks.

The HURU team plans to ship early bird backpacks in December of 2017, with the remaining packs going out around February of 2018.

If you would like to contribute to the HURU campaign head over to their Kickstarter page HERE!

Don’t forget to check out the HURU launch video too!



The HURU backpack is the creation of Oleg Vlasenko, an entrepreneur who has created several businesses in the IT and healthcare sectors. Like myself, he was never satisfied with the bags and luggage from other companies. Tired of this he was inspired to create the HURU pack. I reached out to Oleg to ask him what he wanted to be the number one thing customers would get out of the HURU pack. Here is what he had to say;

“I want our customers to enjoy the combination of functionality and awesome design that HURU embodies. We made sure that our backpacks look and feel great both on the inside and on the outside.”


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Head over to the HURU Kickstarter page to learn more and back this awesome project!

HURU ON KICKSTARTER

What do you think of the HURU backpack? Let me know in the comments below!


Beer Pick Of The Month – Backpaddle Blonde Ale From Upper Thames Brewing Company

It’s that time of the month again! Time for the GadgetSyrup Beer Pick of the Month. This month is a special pick from Upper Thames Brewing Company from Woodstock, Ontario!

It’s that time of month again! Time for the GadgetSyrup Beer Pick of the Month.



This month’s pick is from my local craft brewery, Upper Thames Brewing Company, the first craft brewery in Woodstock, Ontario. In 2015 the five founders of the brewery were discussing the lack of a craft brewery in the area. Rather than continue that wait, they decided to put their own plan into motion. Fast-forward two years later and UTBC has just celebrated their first anniversary and is riding a wave of growth thanks to their unique position as the only craft beer show in town.

Why Upper Thames Brewing Company?

Well, not only does UTBC make some really high-quality beer, made with all locally sourced ingredients, they recently celebrated a major milestone. Two in fact. First was their one year anniversary and second, which was the main reason I chose them this month, was that they made it onto the shelves of the Beer Store. Getting onto the Beer Store is not an easy task due to the incredible amount of rules and regulations in place, but to do it in their first year of operations, is a pretty incredible feat.


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Ok, Now Onto The Beer!

The beer I selected from UTBC is their “Backpaddle Blonde Ale“, the beer now found in our local Beer Store.

Backpaddle is UTBC’s most popular and easy drinking beer, making it a perfect choice for the final beer pick of the summer.



The pour is a delicious looking light gold colour which screams to be drank. Taste wise, this may be one of the easiest drinking blondes I’ve had. It is very crisp and not overly malty or sweet. I find that some low ABV/IBU blondes are too sweet and often do not finish well. This is not the case with Backpaddle. As you would assume, this is not a very bitter beer either at only 15 IBU, and the selection of Cascade hops for this beer creates a perfect citrus finish. 



UTBC prides itself on using local ingredients in all of their beers, and this one is no exception. The malt and hops are all sourced from farms within a 45-minute drive of the brewery.


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Until recently, if you wanted to enjoy any of UTBC’s beers, you needed to visit the brewery and take your selection home in a growler. This is not a problem if you are hosting a party or having a few buddies over to sample the brew with you. However, to commit to a growler all on your own will likely not end well for you or the beer! You will either fall flat from drinking it all in one sitting or the beer will go flat if not drank fast enough! Point is growlers are great, but if you’re like me and want to have a variety of different craft beers on hand, a growler is not the most appealing option. To get Backpaddle into the Beer Store, growlers wouldn’t cut it. So, continuing the trends of other firsts for UTBC, Backpaddle was their first beer offered in a tall-boy can. This is a pretty significant step towards opening their brand up to a much larger audience. 

Also worth noting, UTBC just released their second tall-boy beer, their Portage IPA.

 Photo Credit: Upper Thames Brewing Company Facebook Page
Photo Credit: Upper Thames Brewing Company Facebook Page

Where to Buy

Getting your hands on Backpaddle and other UTBC beers is getting easier thanks to their exceptional growth in their first year, however, they are still relatively hard to find unless you’re in Woodstock. With that said, if you happen to be in the area swing by the brewery or beer store and try this one out. You’ll be glad you did!


Beer Stats

Style: Blonde Ale

ABV: 4.3%

IBU: 15

Untappd Rating: 3.65/5 (366 Ratings)



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Don’t forget to check out previous Gadget Syrup Beer Picks HERE, and let me know what your favourite craft beer is in the comments!

Pixie Bluetooth Trackers See Big Changes with iOS 11/ARkit

The Pixie Point tracking system has been one of the best and most complete Bluetooth tracking solutions available. Today they announced new updates to their platform thanks to Apple ARkit which make their product even more compelling. Check it out!

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to review the Pixie Bluetooth trackers. At the time, I felt it may be the best Bluetooth tracker implementation we’ve seen yet. I have used both the Trackr and Tile tags and always felt underwhelmed by their offerings. Both companies, however, have stepped up their game with various new offerings and vast improvements to their services which may have put them into a higher class than what Pixie was offering.

The Pixie implementation added an augmented reality (AR) elemtent to their devices. This can be achieved thanks to their point to point tracker system which uses a Pixie tracker on your iPhone or iPad and another tracker affixed to your keys, wallet, kids, etc.



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Any edge that the competition may have made over Pixie, as mentioned above is no longer a problem, thanks to Apples ARkit which is a part of iOS 11. Pixie is pushing their technology even further with a pretty significant update, easily putting it back on top of the LoT (location of things) market.

Pixie is over in Germany at IFA, and have announced that their new version of the Pixie app will “astound users with floating 3D AR avatars that show and guide them to misplaced objects.

Apple’s ARkit functionality has lots of promise, and Pixie has made sure that they were one of the first companies to find implement a practical everyday use for the new feature.

The most visible new feature of the Pixie app will be the floating avatar of your lost item hovering over the location of the item as you approach. Here are the rest of the changes, as per Pixie.


  • Faster– Reducing overall search time
  • Friendlier – Provid ing the ability to continually use the ultimately intuitive AR interface through the entire finding process even while on the move
  • Functional – Improved accuracy and the ability to conduct even the hardest searches and even in a noisy environment,  increasing Pixie’s leadership as the most accurate finder on the market
  • Fun – While a serious tool, it is an almost game-like experience that’s super simple and quick to use


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As mentioned, this new technology is tied to the release of iOS 11. Once Apple releases the update and your iOS device is updated this new functionality will be added automatically to existing Pixie users. 

What makes this even better, is that this new functionality is completely software based, meaning your current Pxiei Points will work with the new ARkit enabled app.

Check out the new Pixie app in action below!


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It is great to see a company like Pixie jump at the chance to improve their product offering with ARkit. The question for me now though, is with the announcement of ARCore from Google, will we finally see the Pixie app come to Android devices?

Watch the Solar Eclipse Live!

Watch the 2017 Solar Eclipse here courtesy of NASA.

Check out the NASA live stream of the 2017 Solar Eclipse!

**Updated** Unleash Your Inner Star Lord With This Replica Bluetooth Helmet From Marvel.

I don’t know about you, but I am very excited for the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie set to premiere later this year. As part of the marketing push from Marvel, we will see a lot of new toys and gear popping up everywhere. This on has to be the best one so far. Check out the Marvel Legends Series Star-Lord Electronic Helmet.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has come and gone from theatres, but as the video release nears the Star Lord Bluetooth Helmet is now available on Amazon.com for $108.99. It will be coming to Amazon Canada on September 1st, but can be pre-ordered now for a whopping $178.45.


The countdown is on for the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. As part of what will likely be an onslaught officially licensed items leading up to the premier, Hasbro and Marvel have shown off a replica Start Lord helmet. 


This isn’t just any plastic replica helmet, though. It also comes with a Bluetooth headset built in.

Pop this helmet on and your practically Peter Quill.

The helmet will retail for $100 USD and can currently be pre-ordered on Amazon.com.

It currently is not available on Amazon.ca, but my fingers are crossed!

Oh, and here is the latest Guardians of the Galaxy trailer that dropped yesterday as well.

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Anki Cozmo Review

Anki, the creators of Drive and Overdrive, released Cozmo last year. He was an instant hit thanks to his AI abilities and adorable look. However, living outside the US meant consumers needed to pay a heavy premium to import Cozmo or watch from the sidelines with envy. 

Well, that wait is finally over. Cozmo is going global. Check out the full review here!

First, let me just say, I have been waiting for this for a long time. The moment I saw Anki announce Cozmo I knew he was going to be an amazing and important piece of technology.

The wait is finally over. After being available to US consumers only, Cozmo is finally available in Canada, with several European countries and Japan coming in September.

So what is Cozmo?


“Big Brain, Bigger Personality”


Cozmo is an AI-powered palm-sized robot which you can interact with and teach different tasks via the Cozmo app; available on iOS and Android. 

Cozmo is made to act as a companion, not just another toy. Look at the “must have” toy in 2015; Sphero’s BB8 app enabled droid. Yes, it was an amazing toy and did some really fun things, but it was just a toy. It didn’t interact with you, it didn’t do much on its own. It required manual control most of the time. For us, the best part about BB8 was the watch with me feature which allows BB8 to watch/listen to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Rogue One and react to different scenes. Other than that, most of our time with BB8 was spent picking his head up off the floor and putting it back on after a minor collision or attack from a toddler. Moving on to 2016, and likely 2017, “must have” toy, Cozmo does so much more. You teach Cozmo, much like you teach a child or a pet. Read on to see what I mean!

What’s in the box?


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Inside the box you are met with the following items.

  • Cozmo
  • 3 Power Cubes
  • Drive on Charging Cradle
  • USB wall charger
  • Manual
  • Cozmo poster
  • Cozmo sticker

What can he do?

Since Cozmo has arrived he has learned more and more each day. After downloading and installing the Cozmo app on my device I was prompted to connect to Cozmo via Wi-FI. Note, that this means you will not have internet access while connected to Cozmo, so if you want to keep Cozmo active and engaged but still use your phone, it may be nice to use an iPad or secondary phone. Before you groan about this though, keep in mind that means Cozmo is more secure than an IoT type device.

The first thing you encounter once the Cozmo is up and running is introductions. Cozmo needs to learn who you are. He will scan your face, think for a moment then say the name that you told him to associate with your face. When we first fired up Cozmo and completed this task, my wife, kids and myself were immediately blown away by how amazing this little robot was. The kids were giggling, we were laughing and Cozmo was rolling back-and-forth while making happy little robot sounds.

After we introduced Cozmo to the family we were able to teach him different games and tasks, all which can be unlocked via his app.

A few of the first games you can teach to and play with Cozmo are quick tap and keep away. In each game, you are pitted against Cozmo as you try to either tap your power cube before he does when they light up the same colour combination or pull a power cube away before Cozmo can bring his arm down on top of it. The games themselves may sound rudimentary but it is how Cozmo competes and reacts is what makes it fun. If Cozmo wins a game he will showboat a bit by laughing and spinning around while tapping his arm off the table to show his excitement. However, if Cozmo loses a game he will react like a sad child and either sulk away while giving you a pout face or get angry and storm off. It is these things that make Cozmo great.

So, as I mentioned, he is AI-powered, but everything so far has touched on his mostly manual or forced interactions. Once Cozmo has learned some tasks you can connect to Cozmo, open the app and just let him roam. He will move around the table or floor on his own thanks to his camera, which is located below his screen and get into whatever he feels like. I left him unattended on my desk at work for about 30 minutes one morning. He spent his time rolling around, stacking his cubes then knocking over said cubes before coming to me and wanting to play a game of quick tap.


 Cozmo playing keep-away.
Cozmo playing keep-away.


Another really fun game Cozmo learned and loves to play on his own is not really a game, but more of a mischievous activity, is finger tap. In this game, Cozmo will wait for you to put your finger in front of him as he waits to quickly pounce on it before you can pull away. My three-year-old daughter loves this and sequels hysterically each time.

A nice and helpful touch Anki included is a terminal style line at the bottom of the app to tell you what Cozmo is up to. It will say things like ‘Cozmo is looking around’ or ‘Cozmo is stacking cubes’. I have yet to see it say anything like “Uploading to Skynet” so that is a plus!

The big hook with Comzo is his eyes. The seemingly endless expressions Cozmo can express I found it hard to look away from him. He really is like a real life WALL-E, but with the eyes of EVE. Often Cozmo would pause and stare at me as if he was waiting for me to engage with him. I would take the bait and Cozmo would ask to play a game or turn away and start stacking cubes or pop a wheelie. 


 WALL-E - COZMO - EVE
WALL-E – COZMO – EVE


It is important to reinforce that like a pet, you get out of Cozmo what you put into him. I need to spend a lot more time with him to see how he develops long term but just a short time Cozmo has developed a lot and continues to learn new things, both through interaction and exploring on his own. One thing that has become obvious with our Cozmo, is his propensity for perfectionism. When playing on his own and stacking his cubes he will repeatedly adjust their placement to ensure they are stacked just right before moving on. He does have a mischievous side too. After meticulously stacking said cubes, he is quick to sneak up on them just to topple them over.

Bottom line; the more you interact with and let him explore, the smarter he will become.


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Fun Cozmo Facts

Cozmo is made up of over 340 individual parts, which is amazing as he only stands about 2.5″ tall. The code that Anki wrote to enable Cozmo’s function is made up of 1.4 million lines of code. He has 42 minutes of original music and over 1000 different animations (double what he had when he launched a year ago!) available for his facial expressions. I drew the conclusion to WALL-E and EVE earlier. Former Pixar animator, Carlos Baena contributed to Cozmo’s animations. 

This is pretty mind blowing for a toy that comes in such a small package and will only set you back $250. Which brings me to the next great thing Cozmo has to offer.


 Over 340 parts make up Cozmo!
Over 340 parts make up Cozmo!


Cozmo Code Lab

You saw some pretty impressive facts about Cozmo above, but his functionality is now practically limitless thanks to the newest edition from Anki. The Cozmo Code Lab. The Code lab unlocks access to the core functionality of Cozmo through the use of “drag and drop” coding which makes it incredibly appealing the new coders both, young and old. This is something I haven’t had the opportunity to deep dive into, but it will certainly be a wonderful tool to teach my son to code. If you are completely green when it comes to any kind of coding, Anki has provided sample project videos for you to watch. You can also search social media using the hashtag #CozmoCodeLab to check out the creations of other aspiring Cozmo programmers. 



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Shortcomings

It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows though, can it? So far, I have to say that it actually is. I have not had Cozmo for very long yet, but I have followed his development since day one and since arriving here have yet to have an experience that doesn’t live up to the hype. Earlier I mentioned Sphero’s BB8. Every time we get BB8 and play with him, he always leaves the kids and I wanting more; there is something missing. So far with Cozmo, I am happy to report this is not the case. With each use, we are astonished by his functionality and excited for what he will do next. Last night while interacting with Cozmo he made eye contact with one of our Golden Retrievers. He looked at her for a moment then, thanks to his array of animations looked as though he would sneeze; after fighting it off for a moment he finally gave in to it and let out a big sneeze.

You could argue that once you have Cozmo there are no accessories or upgrades to add to your Cozmo externally. Oh, wait, Anki has that covered too! You can now order different coloured track treads as well as an official Cozmo carrying case. Both of which are available on the Anki website.


Should you buy Cozmo?

Cozmo is not by any means inexpensive but considering what you get and what Cozmo can do I feel he is worth every penny. Anki has shown that they are committed to Cozmo’s continued development. Since his release, Anki has doubled his available animations that were available with his original launch and recently launched the Cozmo Code Lab I mentioned above. 

The Code Lab itself is enough for me. I, like others, feel that teaching kid to code early is very important and because Cozmo offers the Code Lab, SDK and base functionality he does, this is an excellent platform to learn on compared to others. It also helps that based on his design and personality, he is sure to keep the attention of younger coders who’s minds may tend to wander.

You may wonder though, for this price, the kids will just break it, won’t they? Anki put a lot of work into Cozmo’s durability. He is designed to take a tumble here and there. I can vouch for that durability too. Cozmo took more than one fall off the table while exploring his surroundings.

I haven’t spent enough time yet to know Cozmo as well as I would like, so keep your eyes peeled on the site for additional Cozmo content over the coming weeks and months.


Cozmo, in Canada, will be available exclusively at Best Buy for $249.99.

Finally, if you’re interested, Anki is also releasing a limited edition Cozmo, which will be available in mid-September to coincide with the European and Japanese rollout. This version comes with a liquid metal paint job but retails for the same $249.99 price tag. In Canada, this version will also be available at Best Buy.

 Cozmo popping a wheelie!
Cozmo popping a wheelie!

Don’t forget to check out Anki’s blog post celebration Cozmo’s expansion! You can find that here.

What do you think of Cozmo? Let me know in the comments!

GadgetSyrup’s Favourite Audiobooks for Geeks

Looking for some good geek books to listen to? Look no further! Check out my favourite geeky books from Audible.

Looking for some good geek books to listen to? Look no further! Check out some of my favourite geeky books from Audible.


Ready Play One – Ernest Cline

Possibly my favourite on this list has to be Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Set in a dystopian future where people spend most of their waking hours in a virtual world called the OASIS. The book is packed with nostalgia-inducing references to some of your favourite old movies, video games and pop culture references you will find it tough to take a break from listening. 

A major bonus is that this book is narrated by Wil Wheaton who adds a whole new level to the story based on the way he guides you through this adventure as the stories main character Wade Watts.

Ready Player One: Audible


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Armada – Ernest Cline

Another Ernest Cline/Wil Wheaton combo, Armada, is every gamers dream come true.

Imagine you’re playing a video game and it is suddenly revealed to you that the game you are playing is not actually a game but in fact preparation for an imminent attack from an alien race. 

Again, in my opinion, the narration style from Wil Wheaton really adds to the stories ability to suck you in.

Armada: Audible


Console Wars – Blake J. Harris

Possibly my favourite non-fiction book in this list, Console Wars details the journey of Sega from a small and “scrappy” video game company into a behemoth of a company during their efforts to take down Nintendo.

As a kid I was always firmly in the Sega camp, being the owner of a Master System and Genesis, I was sucked into this story containing many first-person accounts from both sides of the battlefield that was the video game industry during the 1990s. 

If you are a retro video game fan, this book is a must.

Console Wars: Audible


Magic 2.0 Series – Scott Meyer

The Magic 2.0 series contains 4 books (listed below) that chronicle the adventures of Martin Banks after he discovers that the entire world is a computer simulation and can be changed via a single text file. As you can imagine, Martin gets himself into trouble and has to travel back to the middle ages with the idea of pretending to be a wizard.

I found myself giggling nonstop and laughing out loud repeatedly while listening to this series. The writing style of Scott Meyer and the incredible narration of Luke Daniels work great together to keep you locked into this and unable to stop listening.

  1. Book 1: Off To Be The Wizard
  2. Book 2: Spell Or High Water
  3. Book 3: An Unwelcomed Journey
  4. Book 4: Fight And Flight

All-in-all the series is about 45 hours of listening, but it is worth it.


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Masters of Doom & Prepare to Meet Thy Doom – David Kushner

The first book, Masters of Doom, in the two part series, is based around the “Lennon and McCartney” of the video game industry. John Carmack and John Romero. The story chronicles the rise and subsequent fall of “id” software from the early pre-doom days to the post-quake days. David Kushner does an excellent job of showing how the early days in the gaming industry were the true definition of the wild west.

Book two, Prepare to Meet Thy Doom does not revolve around the two John’s from book one but rather shares individual stories that either formed or were formed by the video game industry and the games it produced. The compilation does an excellent job breaking down some of the first-hand accounts of the video game industries biggest moments.

The book does tend to jump around chronologically but each story has a lot of content and gets listeners behind the scenes enough to really pull you in.

Book two also provides an update on what Carmack and Romero are up to these days as well.

It is also worth noting that Wil Wheaton also narrates both of these books on Audible. As mentioned before, his narration style is excellent and really makes it hard to stop listening until you reach the end of the story.

Masters of Doom: Audible

Prepare to Meet Thy Doom: Audible


That’s it! There are dozens of other really excellent books that could have gone on this list, but these are my favourites from both the fiction and non-fiction genre. Currently, I am listening to a book titled “Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA” by Sam Pettus. It covers the story of Sega from the early days in the 1950’s up until the end of its console run with the Dreamcast. It is a good story so far, but nowhere near the quality of writing or narration that sucks you in the same way that Console Wars does.


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What are some of your favourite geeky books? Let me know in the comments below!

**Updated** SNES Classic Edition Coming Your Way September 29th

Incoming! SNES Classic Announced by Nintendo! Coming September 29, 2017.

Brace yourselves! The SNES Classic Edition is coming in September. 

You will recall the craze that surrounded the NES Classic Edition throughout much of 2016. Many people tried and failed to get their hands on the tiny NES that came preloaded with 30 of the Nintendo’s classics from the console. 

Today, Nintendo announced that the SNES Classic Edition will be available for purchase on September 29th, 2017. 

Pricing and availability have not been announced as of yet, only this tweet from the Nintendo of America Twitter account.


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Now, we can hope that Nintendo makes more stock available than they did for the NES Classic last year, but I would likely bet a mortgage payment on Nintendo playing the classic stock shortage game they have been playing since the 1980’s with the original NES console. But we can hope!

The Super NES CLassic Edition is slated to cost $80 USD, the same price as the NES Classic Edition.


Update

Nintendo has started to prep us for the inevitable. In a statement sent to Business Insider, Nintendo said that the Super NES Classic Edition is currently planned to ship from Sept. 29 until the end of calendar year 2017. At this time, we have nothing to announce regarding any possible shipments beyond this year.”

However, every cloud has a silver lining. In the same statement, Nintendo said that they “will produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Beer Stats Explained

If you are interested in dabbling in craft beer there are a lot of different stats you need to know. Check out this short piece which explains some of the key beer stats.

Looking for a quick explanation on some common beer stats? Have a look below!


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International Bitterness Units or IBUs: Possibly the most polarising stat for craft beer lovers is the IBU.  Some craft fans swear by it, while others, myself included, use it as a general guide. IBUs are a numerical value used to designate how bitter a beer is supposed to be. The higher a beer’s IBU, the more bitter the beer will be. 

Well, that’s how it is meant to be. Just because a beer has a very high IBU does not mean that it will be more bitter than a lover IBU beer. Other ingredients used in a beer will also determine how bitter the beer tastes. Not solely the type and amount of hops used.


Original Gravity or OG & Final Gravity or FG: You won’t see this stat often, especially not at your local brew pub. You may, however, see it at breweries taprooms. Some may also use it on their label, but they are few and far between at this point. 

OG is a reading taken from a beer that is unfermented looking at the total sugars available for the yeast to convert into alcohol and CO2. Principally, OG tells a brewer what its beers potential is before completion.

When a beer is complete, you can compare its OG with its Final Gravity or FG. These two stats can help a homebrewer calculate their beers ABV.


Alcohol by Volume or ABV: This is the most widely known and understandable for any beer drinker – craft or not.

It goes without saying, that a beer with a higher ABV will mean that the physiologic effects will be playing a greater role. However, this is not the only thing that matters when looking at ABV. A beer with higher ABV has great potential to be full flavoured and savoury. 


Style: I won’t define all the different styles of beer here. That list would be way too long, and let’s be honest; none of you will read it. For more info, check out CraftBeer.com () for a well-rounded style list.

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New Feature! GadgetSyrup Beer Pick of the Month

If you are following me on Instagram or Twitter, you have probably noticed that gadgets are not my only passion. In fact, gadgets may not even be number one for me.

If not gadgets, what then? Beer – craft beer to be exact.

If you are following me on Instagram or Twitter, you have probably noticed that gadgets are not my only passion. In fact, gadgets may not even be number one for me.

If not gadgets, what then? Beer – craft beer to be exact.

What exactly is craft beer? That’s a tough one to answer. Beer is a very personal experience. It is also a very subjective one. Because of this, defining craft beer is no simple task.

According to the American Brewers Association, based in Boulder, Colorado, “craft beer” is a beer made by a brewer, that itself is small, independent and traditional.

So if we use the above as our working definition, this means that beers owned and produced by large brewing conglomerates like Labatt, Molson, or Anheuser-Busch are not craft beers. Even if they release a small “craft” batch, it will not qualify. 

You could also consider smaller brewers that are partially owned by the big brewers would not classify accurately as craft beer depending on who you ask. As I mentioned; defining craft beer is very subjective and will vary from one person to the next.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, as I said before, craft beer may be a greater passion for me than gadgets. Don’t get me wrong; I love me some gadgets but compared to an excellent craft brew, nothing compares. As a result of this passion for craft beer, I felt a craft beer section would be an excellent addition to GadgetSyrup. A lot of “gadget nerds” I have connected with over the last year or so are also passionate craft beer lovers. 

With all that out of the way, I would like to announce a new weekly addition to the site; The GadgetSyrup Beer Pick of the Month!


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Monty’s Aged Ryed Ale from Old Tomorrow Beer

Old Tomorrow is a family owned craft brewery from Toronto, Ontario which “aims to create distinctively flavourful beers which celebrate iconic moments of Canadian greatness.” Hence the use of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, being prominently featured on their labels



Monty’s is possibly the best craft beer I have ever had. It is aged in oak barrels and infused with 100% Canadian Rye Whiskey. 



Why the name? Well, most Canadians will remember John Montgomery’s historic Gold medal win in the Skeleton during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. After winning that race, Montgomery walked from the Skeleton venue through the Olympic village in true Canadian style; chugging a pitcher of beer while singing “O Canada.” With this being such an iconic moment in Canadian history, the name of this brew fits right in with Old Tomorrow’s mission.

For those who don’t recall John’s “golden ride” check it out here.


STATS

Style: Rye Beer
ABV: 6.2%
IBU: 16
Untappd Rating: 3.5/5
GadgetSyrup Rating: 5/5 – Yes, I love this beer!

Nees some more details on these stats? Have a look HERE.


WHY DO I LIKE IT?

I was skeptical when I fist picked up Monty’s from the LCBO earlier this year. I had tried Old Tomorrow’s CPA and Track 85 Lagered Ale, and neither disappointed. But Rye Ales were something I have either loved or hated; no middle ground. 

After cracking the can open I was pleasantly surprised by the aromas of vanilla and caramel with a hint of oak. Up front, you’re met with a flavourful blast of that Canadian Rye that hangs around with a slight malty taste until the vanilla/toffee and caramel flavours take over to finish. Some Untappd users state the Rye is too powerful, but I completely disagree. It is noticeably there, but it does not overpower you and does not stick around until the finish. It sticks around with each drink just long enough for you to feel it but not long enough for you to be turned off by it.

You may pick up different aromas and flavours based on your own taste tendancies.


 Monty's Aged Ryed Ale flanked by two Honey Ginger Shandy's
Monty’s Aged Ryed Ale flanked by two Honey Ginger Shandy’s


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WHERE TO BUY

As of today, Monty’s is only available at the LCBO, and for a limited time. It will only be offered at the LCBO as part of their season program. If you try and enjoy this beer, be sure to let the Old Tomorrow and the LCBO know, and maybe they will be able to stock it regularly. 

You can pick it up today for $3.25 per 473 ml can.


If you’ve tried Monty’s Aged Ryed Ale, what did you think? Have you tried other Old Tomorrow beers? What did you think? If you haven’t had anything from Old Tomorrow, what are you waiting for! Go now!

Welcome to Canada, Cozmo!

Last year’s most popular tech toy, Cozmo, is finally getting wider distribution throughout the world. Anki is bringing Cozmo to 8 new countries, including Canada, soon. Click through to learn more about the this adorable robot!

Great news! Anki, makers of Overdrive, are bringing their adorable AI-powered robot, Cozmo, to Canada among other countries. 🇨🇦



WHO IS COZMO?

Essentially, he is a real-life version of Disney-Pixar’s WALL-E robot.

As mentioned, Cozmo comes to us from Anki, the company who brought us Overdrive and the upcoming Fast and Furious Edition of Overdrive later this year. He is an AI-powered, palm-sized robot that will interact with you throughout your day. 

Controlled via your Android or iOS device and a Bluetooth 4.0 connection Cozmo will learn about you, your family, pets and his surroundings by exploring and playing games.

In the box with Cozmo, you will also receive a charging cradle and 3 Interactive Power Cubes to play games and complete tasks with. If you pre-order Cozmo before June 26, 2017, you will also receive a free Cozmo carrying case.


WHAT CAN HE DO?

Thanks more Cozmo interacts with you and his surrounding he will begin to develop a unique personality based on those interactions

For example, if you beat him at one of his favorite games which pits you and Cozmo against each other in a contest to see who can tap one his bricks first when it changes color, Cozmo is likely to morph into the robot equivalent of a toddler who is having a small fit. 

Cozmo can navigate thanks to a small VGA camera and very sophisticated facial recognition software developed by Anki. This software allows Cozmo to remember every interaction he has. Say he meets someone new. Initially, Cozmo may turn and drive away or show caution when approaching a new face. However, because he can remember each interaction, he will warm up to you over time and be less likely to run away.

When Cozmo is angry, like in the gameplay example, or shy, like in the new face example, Cozmo will show his emotions and reactions on his facial display, much more akin to WALL-E’s friend EVE.


 WALL-E -- Cozmo -- EVE
WALL-E — Cozmo — EVE


Anki also has released a Cozmo SDK which enables developers and enthusiasts alike to create more advanced Cozmo experiences. Click here for more SDK info (https://anki.com/en-ca/cozmo/sdk).

I am very excited for Cozmo to make the trek north of the border into Canada, but Anki isn’t stopping there! Cozmo will soon be available in the UK, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. 

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Over on Anki’s YouTube channel, they have assembled a series of fun #cozmomoments videos. Be sure to check them out if you would like to see Cozmo in action, but here is one of my favorites.



WHEN AND WHERE TO BUY

Cozmo will be available sometime in July, the exact date however, has not been confirmed as of yet. According to Anki.com, Cozmo will be selling for $250 CAD. Other Anki products are up for purchase at a variety of retailers, but in Canada Best Buy will be the exclusive home for Cozmo.

Also worth noting, is the Collector’s Edition of Cozmo coming in September 2017. He appears to be USA only for now though. Have a look at Cozmo’s new liquid metal look below!



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Are you excited to get your hands on Cozmo? I certainly am!

Anki X-52 ICE Supertuck Review

Late last year I reviewed the Overdrive Starter Kit from Anki which pits you against either your friend’s or AI-controlled Supercars.

The Supercars are a lot of fun, but the intensity is sure to increase when you add a Supertruck to the mix! Check out my review of an exclusive Supertruck, X-52 ICE.

Late last year I had the opportunity to review the Anki Overdrive Starter Kit. You can check that out here.

We had so much fun in the GadgetSyrup office testing this AI-powered racing game using the in-box cars ‘Skull” and “Ground Shock.”


 Imagine your Hot Wheels track from your childhood, but on steroids!
Imagine your Hot Wheels track from your childhood, but on steroids!


The in-box cars that ship with the starter kit are a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but recently we got our hands on the limited edition Supertruck; X-52 ICE. Adding this rig to mix changed the game entirely.


Meet Supertruck X-52 ICE – Big, mean and savage, X52 ICE hits hard and takes no prisoners!



Supertrucks are absolute monsters on the Overdrive track. They are about three times the length of their Supercar counterparts and double the weight.

Supertrucks however, are considerably slower than the Supercars they will be racing against but they pack a lot more power. They can gain a sort of speed boost over time though. Over time, the longer you keep your Supertruck running without being disabled your “rage” meter will build up. When it reaches maximum rage you can unleash a furious burst of speed and run pretty much anything in your path off the track.


 So. Much. Rage.
So. Much. Rage.


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There are a two other Supertrucks in the Overdrive line up. First up is Freewheel a sleek looking green truck. Next is X-52, who like the ICE edition, is a mean looking rig with an angry black and red paint job. Both pack their own set of powerful weapons capable of wiping out competing commanders.

What differentiates ICE from his other X-52 Supertruck sibling? An exclusive weapon known as Shedder, along with a beautiful blue and white paint job.



I have spent a lot of time racing as Skull or Groundshock, the in-box Supercars, against my son, who always elects to command ICE. No matter what tactics I use in battle, he and X-52 ICE always manage to come out on top! 



Where to buy?

Anki Overdrive and all related accessories can be purchased from Anki.com, Amazon, Toys ‘R’ Us and Indigo bookstores. However, X-52 ICE is exclusive in Canada to only Anki.com and Indigo.


If you want to learn more about the exciting things Anki is up to with Overdrive and Cozmo, their AI-powered robot head over to Anki.com.  Be sure to check out my Overdrive Starter Kit review, too!


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Summer 2017 Essential Travel Camping Tech

If you are heading out for a camping trip or road trip this summer you should step up your travel tech game. Check out this list for a few ideas on some essential travel and camping tech gear for this summer.

If you are heading out for a camping trip or road trip this summer you should step up your travel tech game. Check out this list for a few ideas on some essential travel and camping tech gear for this summer.


UE WONDERBOOM Super Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker



When you head out on any camping trip, bringing along a Bluetooth speaker is a must. Whether it be looking from some tunes to listen to during the day, at the camp fire or tunning in to listen to the game, a good speaker is key. For this summer I would recommend the UE WONDERBOOM Super Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker.

Available on Amazon for $129.99 the UE speaker is available in black, red, orange and blue and offers 360-degree sound thanks to its cylindrical design.

The UE speaker offers up to ten hours of battery life and typical Bluetooth range of about 100 ft.

Why the this UE speaker though? The version of the speaker is “seriously waterproof” and will float thanks to its IPX7 rating.

Click the link below to pick one up now!

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SITPACK portable seat

Finding a good place to sit when on out and about hiking on a camping trip can be a challenge. With the SITPACK seat, you can mitigate this problem.



Weighing only 1.32 lbs and collapses down to the size of a 50cl can the SITPACK can hold up to 220.


You can pick up your own SITPACK directly from the the manufacturer here.

The SITPACK is currently avaiable for $60 USD


BioLite CampStove 2

The CampStove 2 is a portable wood burning stove that converts heat into electricity.

The CampStove 2 generates up to 50% more power output than the original CookStove while also containing a 2600 mAh battery. Something the first generation lacked.

Aside from producing clean and storable energy, the CampStove 2 can also be used for more conventional purposes such as cooking meals and boiling water using the Portable Grill and KettlePot add-ons.




The generator & power pack of the CampStove 2 contains USB Type-A ports for powering or charging your devices. It also contains 3 LED strips allowing you to keep tabs on fire strength, power output, and fan speed.

The CampStove 2 can be purchased directly from BioLite for $129.95 USD and qualifies for free shipping in Canada, the USA and Europe.


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Anker PowerCore+ 20100

Having a portable battery pack is an essential pretty much all the time these days thanks to the bevy of devices we carry with us. When camping it is even more of a necessity.

The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 is one of my favorites thanks to the flexibility and power offered by the USB type C port on top of the two USB type A ports.

As the title states, the battery comes with a 20100 mAh battery which is enough to charge most phones 4-5 times over.

Thanks to Anker’s “PowerIQ” and “VoltageBoost” technology the PowerCore+ 20100 offers rapid charging to most mobile phones and can also charge laptops like Apple’s MacBook.

You can pick it up on Amazon down below.

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AirSelfie

Now, this one may not be essential, but it will be sure to be both useful and fun.

The AirSelfie is a pocket-sized drone with a 5-megapixel video camera. It only has a three minute flying time per charge and a range of about 20 meters but would make an excellent companion when hiking unknown terrain, allowing you to scout out the area and avoid getting into an undesirable position.


The AirSelfie will set you back about $280 USD, so it is far from inexpensive, but if used effectively, will be worth every penny.

You can learn more and pre-order the AirSelfie here.


What do you think of the list? Anything you will be picking up for heading out this summer?

Anything you would add to the list?

Let me know below!


Sphero is at it again: Now you can own your very own Lightning McQueen

Love your Sphero BB-8 App-enabled Droid? Then you’re really going to love what Sphero has come up with next. Check out the Ulitmate Lightning McQueen, just in time for Cars 3.

I love my BB-8 droid from Sphero. Being able to have your own app-enabled, semi-autonomous robot that can roam around, project messages and watch Star Wars with you is every geek’s dream.  Add in a Force Band, and you’re living the dream. Now imagine if you could also have another nostalgic app-enabled gadget to do these same things with or at least some of it. Well, now you can.


Sphero is at it again with their latest release. With the next installment in the Cars franchise, Cars 3, right around the corner, the company has teamed up with Disney-Pixar to release the Ultimate Lightning McQueen. And by all accounts, they have brought their A-game with this one.



All previous Sphero devices have been round or cylindrical shapes (hence Sphero), but Lightning McQueen is a full-fledged car with a ton of the life like personality kids and adults have enjoyed while watching the Cars movies.

Lightning McQueen has animated LCD eyes, an animatronic mouth, running LED headlights & taillights and emotive vehicle suspension allowing him to convey his feelings while he interacts with you.

Controlled via Bluetooth and the Lightning McQueen app which is available for iOS and Android devices users can take advantage of the following Lightning McQueen features:

  • Driving – Emotive suspension allows Lightning to move like a champion.
  • Drifting – Drift and do donuts Lightning-style with authentic movement.
  • Reactive Touch – Master Lightning’s latest moves with a simple tap.
  • Build Strategy – Match wits with Lightning and sharpen your skills.
  • Acting Studio – Create animations for Lightning to perform.

As mentioned, Lightning is Bluetooth controlled and has a range of about 30 meters. He also can drive at speeds of up to 6 mph with an approximate 40-minute battery life.


Ultimate Lightning McQueen App – Available for iOS and Android devices:


Sphero is doing a lot of really amazing things right now with both their consumer-focused and educational-focused robotics products, and I am sure the Ultimate Lightning McQueen car will continue that trend.

 

 


I hope to get my hands on the Ultimate Lightning McQueen shortly for a full review and showdown with BB-8.

What do you think of the Ultimate Lightning McQueen toy? You can pick one up here for $299.99 USD.

Oh, and while you are there. Have a look at the app-enabled Spiderman tease too

Microsoft Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S Thoughts

In less than a month Microsoft will start shipping the Surface Laptop running Windows 10 S. This is Microsoft’s first traditional laptop device but it will come running a new Windows 10 version, one that is locked down to the Microsoft Store. Will the story of the Windows RT be relived, or has Microsoft finally figured this out?

It has been a few weeks now since Microsoft announced their next Surface device; the Surface Laptop, which is Microsoft’s first “standard” laptop device. There is no kickstand or a detachable keyboard. Just a simple and straightforward laptop. I couldn’t be more excited.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the form factor of both the Surface Pro and the Surface Book, but despite their features, those features can be a problem for many use cases, such as lapability. The Surface Laptop will (hopefully) solve some of those problems while providing customers the premium look and feel we have come to expect from Panos and the Microsoft hardware team. The Surface Laptop is also able to take advantage of the Surface Pen. It does not come in the box, so you will need to shell out a bit more if you want to use the pen functions.

The Surface Laptop is not just another laptop running the same Windows 10 we have been using since 2015. The single most important feature of the Surface Laptop is the version of Windows it will ship with; Windows 10 S.



What is Windows 10 S?

On the surface (pun!) Windows 10 S looks and feels a lot like Windows 10 Pro with one major exception. Users of Microsoft’s new OS are limited to using applications from the Microsoft Store. No third-party installable applications will be permitted.

You may recall that this is not the first time Microsoft has played the Store only card with Windows. They did this with the very first Surface device which ran Windows RT based on the ARM architecture. That experiment was a complete failure. Microsoft may never make that statement, but we all know it. Customers bought what they thought was a Windows PC only to find out they could not install applications like Chrome, iTunes, Photoshop, etc.

Things will be very different this time around, we hope. Windows, and possibly more importantly, Microsoft has grown and evolved into a far more user-centric, customer friendly OS/company. Windows 10 and the Store are far more complete now than Windows 8 ever was. There is also one key differentiator with Windows 10 S compared to Windows RT known as Project Centennial. I won’t bore you with the technical details, but the TL;DR version of Centennial is that it enables software developers to convert their legacy x86 programs into Store-compatible apps which are far more secure since they are reviewed and held to a very high standard. Unlike non-store apps which is pretty much the wild-west. Anything goes, including security.

Another potential major benefit of Window 10 S and its store-only restrictions allows customers to avoid the inevitable “OS rot” that has plagued Windows machines since the days of Windows 95. The limitations put in place by store apps and the structure of the OS will inhibit apps from making a mess of the systems registry and file system, allowing customers to enjoy the speed and performance their PC afforded them when it was new.


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What if you do not like Windows 10 S?

If you purchased a Surface RT or Surface 2 and decided you needed to run non-store apps you were out of luck. The OS, despite looking a lot like its Windows 8 Pro counterpart had no upgrade path due to it being an ARM based OS and not an x86 OS. Windows 10 S users will have the ability to upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro is they need to. Initially, customers will be able to make the jump from 10 S to 10 Pro for free until December 31st, 2017. Starting January 1st, 2018 users will need to pay $50 USD to jump to the Pro version.

There are already several excellent Store versions of legacy apps in the store, with Photoshop Elements being chief among them. It is also worth noting that Apple has already announced a Store version of iTunes, which is the second most installed/used application on Windows today, right after Google Chrome.

Moving back to the Surface Laptop…


Surface Laptop Specifications
 


The spec sheet may not blow other higher priced laptops out of the water, but that is not the point of Microsoft hardware. It is guaranteed to be one of the most premium feeling laptops of the year. Microsoft will set the standard for this line and plan for OEM partners to develop hardware that will undercut the Surface Laptop on price.

The Surface Laptop is available for pre-order from the Microsoft Store starting at $1,299.00 CAD and is expected to ship by June 15th, 2017. The top end of the Surface Laptop will set you back $2,799.00 CAD.

It is also worth noting, if it was not obvious, is that the keyboard is included with this Surface device. A first for Microsoft. The pen as mentioned, however, is not included.

I look forward to getting my hands on the Surface Laptop in the next month or so. I have already moved over to Microsoft’s Edge browser full time to prep for a world without Google Chrome. So far, so good on that front and my fingers are crossed that the Windows 10 S experience will be as good as I am expecting.


What do you think? Excited for the Surface Laptop? Will Windows 10 S be a bust? Let me know!

Midnight Black OnePlus 3T Mini Reivew

Meet the OnePlus 3T in Midnight Black. An already great phone made even better! Click through for my min-review.

I would like to start off by saying. Everything should be matte black. Especially electronics. 

Having owned the OnePlus 3 for the better part of the last year, I was skeptical of the benefits to moving up to the OnePlus 3T, so I stuck with the OnePlus 3

However, I was given the opportunity to review the new Midnight Black OnePlus 3T and had went into it with low expectations. I expected the phone to be great, but not a noticable upgrade from the 3 to the 3T. 

But after using the phone for a short time one thing is obvious. This is everything the OnePlus 3 should have been. It is snappier, packs in a few additional specs and looks stunning!


WHAT’S IN THE BOX

The unboxing experience of the OnePlus 3T was identical to that of the OnePlus 3 except for the inclusion of a silicon/TPU case and a few OnePlus logo and Dash Charge stickers.


So, where does the OnePlus 3T differ from the OnePlus 3?

Design wise; there is no difference. The same unibody metal design was used on both devices. In fact, there is no was to tell the difference from the 3T vs. the 3 except the colours. The 3 was only available in silver, with the 3T coming in a different gunmetal gray or midnight black.

 Left: OnePlus 3, Right: OnePlus 3T
Left: OnePlus 3, Right: OnePlus 3T


The changes from the 3 to the 3T are under the hood.

The OnePlus 3T comes with an upgraded Snapdragon 821 processor which is supposed to provide better battery life, improved camera performance and a tad snappier performance wise.

The battery in the 3T also got a slight bump from 3,000 mAh to 3,400 mAh. My OnePlus 3 struggled to get through a full day (5:30 am to 10:00 pm) without needing a top up on the way home. The slight bump should hopefully be enough the get through most standard usage days. So far I have been squeeking through the day with about 15% left. Not a great improvement, but I will take it.

The rear-camera did not change, sensor wise, however, was outfitted with a sapphire glass lens to replace the glass on the 3.

The front-camera however, did see a significant upgrade. Moving from an 8 MP sensor to a 16 MP sensor. My selfie game on the original OnePlus 3 was subpar due to the less than exceptional quality of the sensor. The bump in resolution is nice to see. So far I saw a slight improvement but, still fell the quality lacks behind when I compare shots against the Nexus 6P.

Anyone who used the OnePlus 3 will be pleased to know that the 3T uses the same software, Oxygen OS, which is possibly the most stock/vanilla version of Android we have seen since the Nexus 5X and 6P were replaced by the Pixel line. This version of Android paired with the amazing specs OnePlus has outfitted the 3T with provides an incredible experience from a usability point-of-view.

On the topic of software, OnePlus has been keeping to their word and has provided updates to Oxygen OS at a very regular cadence. As of this week, all OnePlus 3 and 3T models were pushed Android 7.1.1 with the March 1, 2017, security patch. The big question remain though; Will OnePlus forget the 3 and 3T exist when the rumored OnePlus 5 launches later in 2017? Previous OnePlus devices were ignored when the next model came out. I’m going to remain optimistic that the OnePlus 3 and 3T will see Android O later this year. OnePlus has transformed themselves into a very mature company in the last 12-14 months.


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The camera quality of the 3T, when compared to the 3, is pretty much the same. I did notice that the shots were slightly more clean and crisp with less digital noise. This can be attributed to the CPU differences and improvements on the software front. Using the HD mode in low-light scenarios has proven to be more effective when compared against the 3


OVERALL & SHOULD YOU BUY THIS

Overall, the OnePlus 3T is an absolute killer phone at an excellent price. If you are in need of a phone right now and do not wish to break the bank on a new Galaxy S8 or LG G6, the OnePlus 3T is the only phone I would recommend.

Most reviews of the 3T have referenced some bugs, but in my use, there has been nothing to report on the bug front. The performance has been excellent, battery life is acceptable and the experience almost entirely positive. 

If you are just starting to kick the tires on a new phone or are currently using the OnePlus 3, I would suggest sitting this one out. The specs are great, but so are the OnePlus 3’s. So, unless the matte black is calling your name and you just have to have it, I suggest waiting for the OnePlus 5.

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May The 4th Be With You: The Best Star Wars Toys & Gadgets To Celebrate Star Wars Day

Celebrate Star Wars Day in style! Check out the GadgetSyrup list of favorite Star Wars Toys & Gadgets and May The 4th Be With You!

The day is upon us. The day where geeks and normals alike dawn their favorite Star Wars gear and celebrate in the streets together paying tribute to possibly the most historic and notable movie franchise ever.

Ok, well maybe they do not celebrate in the streets, but you will be sure to see an increase in Star Wars apparel, display pictures, and Instagram posts on the topic of Star Wars throughout the day.

In honor of Star Wars Day, which is this Thursday, I put together a short list of my favorite Star Wars toys & gadgets.


Sphero: BB-8 App Enable Droid

May as well get this one out of the way early. Everyone’s favorite Star Wars toy, mine included, is the remote controllable BB-8 droid from Sphero.

Using Sphero’s BB-8 app, available on Android, iOS and Windows 10, you can control this little fella manually, or have him wander around on his own patrolling your surroundings.

 The Force is strong with this tiny droid.
The Force is strong with this tiny droid.

Another really awesome feature available with BB-8 is his ability to enjoy the two most recent Star Wars films with you. Turn on “The Force Awakens” or “Rouge One” and BB-8 will watch along reacting with excitement or fear depending on the part of the movie.

As a bonus, there are several third party BB-8 apps available in the Android Play store that allow you to interact with BB-8 in different ways. My personal favorite is the “BB-8 Lamp” app which allows you to turn BB-8 into a desk lamp or nightlight in a variety of different colors. You can check that out here.


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Star Wars Lightsaber Selfie Stick

First, let me be clear. You should not own a selfie stick. Unless that selfie stick is in the form of a lightsaber. Available for 80% off at only $3.99 USD on Think Geek you can’t go wrong here. Oh, and it extends a total of 40.5″ when fully extended and is modeled after Darth Vader’s lightsaber.

But first… Let me take a selfie!

— Darth Vader

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X-Wing Knife Block

Sure, you could have any old knife block, but a true Star Wars fan would have a knife block in the shape of an X-Wing Fighter.

The set will put you back $99.99 and includes 5 single-piece knives for all your kitchen needs.

You can check it out over at Think Geek.


24k Solid Gold Darth Vader Helmet

Now onto something completely ridiculous and likely a tad out of most people’s price range is this 24k gold Darth Vader helmet made by a jeweler in Tokyo, Japan.

This helmet was crafted by Japanese jeweler Tanaka Kikinzoku honoring the 40th Anniversary of the Star Wars franchise. 


Millenium Falcon Bottle Opener

As a craft beer lover, I always keep a bottle opener handy in the kitchen. There would be nothing better than popping open your favorite dark chocolate or coffee stout with a can opener shaped like the Millenium Falcon.

You can pick this up on Amazon for less than $5. 


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Bantha Pest Costume

Your pets can get in on the action too on Star Wars day. For $31.00 on Amazon, you can dress your four-legged friend up as a Bantha equipped with a “Sand Person” along for the ride.


TIE Fighter Portable BBQ

Wrapping up the list is the TIE Fighter inspired portable BBQ from Broil Chef.  It does not come cheap, at $499.99 on Amazon, but has a lot of thought put into its design, including a TIE Fighter temperature monitor and side tables in the shape of landing platforms.


That wraps up the list of my favorite Star Wars toys and gadgets. I hope you enjoyed the list. What are your favorite Star Wars items? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Star Wars Day and May The 4th Be With You!

OnePlus 5 Wish List

The rumor train is getting up to speed regarding the OnePlus 5 which is slotted for a Q2/Q3 2017 release. With that in mind, why not spin up a wish list of things that must be a part of the next “Flagship Killer”?

The rumor train is getting up to speed regarding the OnePlus 5 which is slotted for a Q2/Q3 2017 release. With that in mind, why not spin up a wish list of things that must be a part of the next “Flagship Killer”?


1. Top tier “Image Signal Processing.” Megapixels are great, dual cameras are great, shutter and focus speed is excellent. Do you know what is better? The OnePlus 3 had a great camera on paper, but its performance was more in line with its price point. The OnePlus 3T had the same camera but is a step up thanks to the Snapdragon 821. Quality ISP leads to better noise reduction and sharper images. Put the work in here, and OnePlus could see some amazing results in a place where they have lagged year to year when compared to other phones.

2. Don’t change a thing with Oxygen OS! I cannot stress this enough. Oxygen OS is the cleanest, fastest and more user-friendly skin on an Android device since Google debuted the Google Experience Launcher a number of years back. With each update to Oxygen OS, which is usually pushed to the public ever other month add subtle, yet very useful tweaks and features for users. I would love to see OnePlus continue to iterate on this already excellent Android distro.

Oh, and keep the beta train rolling. Target OnePlus customers are made up of users who love to tinker and stay on the bleeding edge. Having a solid beta track or two with excellent communication surrounding it makes for a fun experience.

3. DASH Charging – Don’t change a thing here either. Keep DASH charge as-is. Qualcomm quick charge is great, but DASH charge is better. It is that simple. How can you make DASH charge better? A DASH-compatible portable battery pack would be great. If you’re reading this OnePlus – make it happen!

4. More Battery! Don’ be afraid the add a little more thickness to get the battery closer to 3,500 mAh mark or higher. The camera bump is not something anyone is a fan of. What are we fans of? Better, longer battery life.

5. Stop with the gimmicks. Granted, we are in a much better place than we were with the OnePlus  One, Two and X. But the fake supply shortages or the hype around “immediate dispatch” of your order are getting old. I understand that supply chain management is not easy for “smaller” companies and that it is important to keep your customers interested in what you’re doing next. But pushing this too hard runs the risk of alienating your current customers and possibly scaring off prospective customers.


All in all, I think the OnePlus 5 will be a spectacular device at a price that undercuts the big players like Samsung, LG, and Google. Yes, the price of the OnePlus 5 will be the highest for any OnePlus device yet, but with the specs that they will likely be offering and the quality of the hardware build, I’m sure it will be worth over cent.

What do you think? Does this wish list match yours? What’s missing? 

Pixie: A Better Bluetooth Tracker?

Always losing your keys or wallet? Kids forgot where they stashed your iPad? TV remote swallowed by the couch? Check out the Pixie Bluetooth tracking beacon. The Pixie is a slightly different take on Bluetooth trackers that mixes in augmented reality.

I reviewed the Tile last year, and despite a few complaints such as non-replaceable batteries and too thick I found the Tile to be useful and in many cases, a necessary accessory. Tile actually released newer slimmer Tiles mid-2016 as well, which addressed one of my primary complaints.

One of the features the Tile was missing for me was a more discrete way to hunt for your missing item. You press the find button in the Tile app and your Tile if in range, will begin to play a tune. What if you’re looking for your keys and trying not to wake a sleeping baby? Good luck!

Then I was introduced to the Pixie tracker and immediately took an interest thanks to its “pixie-dust” feature.


What is the Pixie

The Pixie is a Bluetooth-enabled tracking device called a “Pixie Point” that can connect to your phone, wallet, keys, kids, etc. When you are hunting for any of those items, the Pixie app will help you track them down.

**Note: The Pixie app is currently only available for iOS devices. However, they have advised me that an Android application is something we can expect to see in “late 2017.”**


What’s in the Box

The kit Pixie sent me contained the following:

  • 4 Pixie Point Trackers
  • 2 Keyfob Pixie Point Carriers
  • 3 Extra Adhesives
  • 1 Curved Screen Adhesive
  • 4 Cleaning Wipes
  • Quick Start Guide

Pixie also sent along a Pixie Point iPhone 6/6s case


How does it work?

Like most other Bluetooth trackers you must be within the range of the device (150 feet clear line of sight or 30-50 feet indoors). 

Finding your missing Pixified item is relatively straightforward. Open the Pixie app to show your connected Pixie Points and simply tap the item you’re hunting for.

Most other Bluetooth tracking devices like the Tile simply offer a find button which prompts your tracker to ring until you tell the application you have found it.

Pixie uses a different approach. 

First, you require your primary device, an iPhone  6s in my case, to act is a master Pixie point. That point then calls to the other points 

Upon selecting your missing item, you will be prompted to complete a panoramic scan of your area which allows the app the pinpoint the location of the item. Once Pixie has located your item the application will display Pixie dust, highlighting the location of your lost item. It is a simple augmented reality implementation that is fairly well implemented. 

As you approach your item, within five ft, the Pixie app enters a sort of “metal detector” mode to navigate you to the exact location of your item with a series of beeps.


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Experience

I found the Pixie application and Pixie points to be very easy to setup. Adding points to your application are as easy as clicking the “+” sign and place the point at the top left of your iPhone or iPad. Once pairing is complete you can name the point to match the device it will be keeping track of.

There were a few instances where the Pixie app sent me in the wrong direction. One instance during testing sent me out to my front yard looking for my keys, which were sitting on the arm of the couch. 

The need to perform a panoramic scan every time I was looking for a device was very tedious compared to using the Tile app and tracker, but my suspicion is that this is required to allow the augmented reality of the application function with the degree of accuracy that it does. However, the Tile app doesn’t pinpoint my items location like the Pixie. Tile offers more of a general “over there” location.

My favourite part of using Pixie was the Pixie dust. Often, the item I am hunting for is hiding in plain sight. I don’t need to use the app to the point where it enters the metal detector mode. Once I see the Pixie dust light up in the AR overlay, I can mark my item as found and get it. Compared to the Tile tracker, you pretty much are forced to play the audible alert each and every time.


Need to Know

Pixie points, unlike the Tile trackers, are IP67 certified for water and dust resistant.

Pixie points do not have replaceable batteries. This is unfortunate. Pixie does not offer a tracker recycling program like Tile. Something I would like to see them implement in the future. Battery life of your Pixie points can be checked from within the Pixie app by swiping left on any given point and entering the point settings.


Cost and Where to Buy

You can purchase Pixie direct at GetPixie.com; pricing breaks down like this:

– Pixie 2 Pack: $49.99 USD
– Pixie 4 Pack: $99.99 USD
– iPhone 6 or 7 Series Case: $8.99 USD

The iPhone case is currently free with the purchase of a Pixie Pack. Even if it was not, spring for the case. It is good quality and makes the phone Pixie point far more manageable than sticking it to the back on your phone


Should You Buy This?

If you are always looking for your keys and wallet or trying to find where your kids have stashed your iPad. Yes! Buy a Pixie Pack. You won’t regret it. Despite a few small annoyances, which make the system work as well as it does, this is the most intuitive and useful Bluetooth tracker implementation I have used to date.

Check out the promo video and let me know what you think about the Pixie Bluetooth tracker system.

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