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!

Syrup Drop: Turn Off Google Maps Turn-By-Turn Audio.

Turn off turn-by-turn audio in Google Maps with this handy tip!

I was listening to the All About Android podcast recently, and the show’s crew was talking about the annoyance of Google Maps barking out directions while driving that was more disruptive than helpful. One of the show hosts, Ron, said that he had never come across the option to reduce or silence Google Maps voice directions in all his years of using Android.

This is a feature I have used for years while using Google Maps as a passive timer and route avoidance tool. I was pretty surprised to hear someone on an Android Podcast say they had no idea that this feature existed. I also got a laugh out of Ron stating he was too busy with twins to sit down and learn about things like that. This was funny to me, because I too have twins, but they are kid number 4 and 5!

Regardless of the humour and surprise, I thought that if the AA crew didn’t know this function, many of you might not know about it as well.


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Enter Syrup Drop; A series of posts that will feature a quick and useful tech-related tip that you may find helpful!

By default, Google Maps has all voice navigation unmuted and provides users with turn-by-turn directions while navigating from place to place. While this feature is beneficial when visiting a new destination, it can be somewhat distracting and in some case annoying when using Maps to plan you busy drive to work or some other location.

It is a pretty straightforward function to alter as well; there is no Apple-style digging through the settings to find this. The setting is staring right at you during your navigation. Check it out below.



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The options are as follows;

  • Unmuted – Full voice navigation. Each turn, a different route or traffic issue is announced.
  • Alarms only – You’ll hear alerts like traffic, construction, and crashes. You won’t hear the constant turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Muted – This one is pretty self-explanatory. When active, Google Maps will stay completely silent. The only issue with this option is that should Google discover trouble on your route or a faster route, you’re likely to miss the onscreen pop-up.

That is it for this one! Hopefully, we can all get back to travelling soon and put this handy feature to use.


If you have any other tips and tricks like this, please get in touch with me HERE.

My Favourite Apps: Microsoft Office Lens

Microsoft Office Lens is one of my favourite and most useful apps. Check out my mini-review of this must have app.

My wife and I have recently embarked on a Marie Kondo-Esque type clean up of our house. We moved in just over a year ago, and like with any move, many boxes of miscellaneous things ended up shoved into the storage rooms of the basement. As a result, more and more junk ended up was added to those rooms. Inevitably, the storage rooms were a complete nightmare. Our messy storage room, amplified by the welcoming of twins to the family (five kids now in total), started to spread into the rest of the basement. It was time to do something! It was time to be ruthless and finally rid ourselves of all of those things that would have been sure to spend many more years in a box.


One of those many things in boxes were old pictures, documents, schoolwork, certificates, awards, etc. Were we ever going to display them? Read them? Use them in any way, shape or form? The answer was NO. We didn’t want to throw out all of these memories, but the idea of scanning them on our now antiquated HP all-in-one wasn’t an inspiring option either. My wife suggested to me to take pictures of the papers we were planning to toss, but me being me, I had to find a more technologically involved method.


I had considered Google’s photo scanning app but, having tried that in the past, I decided it was a non-starter. Google’s offering requires you to take four shots of the same picture to capture it. Nope, not happening!

Enter yet another Microsoft app tucked away in my app drawer rose to the occasion to save the day. Microsoft Office Lens.



What is Microsoft Office Lens?

You can think of this app as a document scanner for your phone but backed by robust, well-thought software. Thanks to the far more powerful camera on your smartphone, results are better than the scanner attached to your printer.


Why I Like Office Lens

Effortless Use

Using Lens is as simple as using your camera. Open the app, line up the document, picture whiteboard or business card you are trying to capture and click.


Powerful

As you can see in the image, lining up, the whiteboard, or whatever you are capturing, doesn’t require a perfectly aligned head-on shot. Shooting from the side will yield the same result.


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Connects to All The Things

I initially used Lens to capture whiteboards in meetings at work. Since then, Microsoft has added a lot of features that make it appealing to use for personal reasons too. For example, this house clean up and capturing old school work and pictures from years past. Having the ability to seamlessly switch from personal and work accounts is a big value ad for Lens


Flexible

Lens lets you save a document in a handful of different locations and file formats at the same time. After capturing the image, you can save the output as a PDF or JPEG to your OneDrive account, add as an image to a OneNote notebook, add to a PowerPoint slide, save to your phones camera roll or if it is a text-based document use Microsoft word and OCR to output as an editable text document.


Overall, I have found Office Lens to be a big help at home and at work. It is available for download on Android and iOS at the links below.



A Bird? A Plane? A… Vacuum??

Recently I reviewed my first smart vacuum. It was a mixed bag to say the least. It did a great job with the day-to-day dog fur and crumbs left behind by the kids, but it repeatedly accosted my Golden Retriever and finally gave up the ghost and stopped working altogether thanks to a lidar-related error that I am still working on with BlitzWolf support.

One thing I didn’t mention in the review was the obvious downfall of most smart vacuums. Stairs. Smart vacuums lack arms and legs, therefore they are stuck on whatever level of your house you decide it will live. But what if your vacuum could fly…

YouTuber and engineer Peter Sripol has heavily modified his smart vac to do just that. Check it out.



This is a pretty impressive bit of work Peter has done, and all for about $200. It does have its limitation though. Due to the lack of the needed sensors to navigate on its own while in flight, the vacuum does need to be piloted by a person and due to the downdraft from the fans it will blow around any dirt it hopes to clean up.

Those issues aside, this is just a proof-of-concept and more of a fun party trick than anything else right now. With time though, I do hope to see actual vacuum manufacturers finding ways for their vacuums to overcome stairs.

How To Use The Windows 10 Emoji Picker

You too can have the power of the Windows 10 Emoji Picker!!

Emoji are, for better or for worse, one of the most popular ways in which we express ourselves online. For most people, the only computer 💻 they use daily is their smartphone 📱 or tablet. Modern versions of iOS and Android have emoji picker shortcuts on the keyboard making selection a breeze💨.

However, there are a small number of users such as myself 🙋‍♂️who spend a considerable amount of time using a standard PC with a physical keyboard and mouse. That does not mean I do not want to or should not be able to easily add emoji to my tweets and the like. There had to be a better way, thankfully, Microsoft actually already has made emoji selection easier, I just hadn’t noticed yet.

Until recently I resorted to always manually selecting the software keyboard button from the task bar, and going through the painful process of paging through the emojis. Only recently I learned of a far more superior way, so I wanted to share it with those who may not enlightened with this wonderful power.

Windows Key + Period Key, it’s that simple. Pressing that hotkey combination will pop the emoji picker as a floating window over the application you’re working in. What makes it even easier, is all you have to do is start typing to find your emoji. Once you have found the perfect one, click it and your text is automatically replaced with the emoji.

The emoji picker is a very simple feature, but something that has already been incredibly useful to me in the short time I have known about and been using it.

Did you know about the Windows 10 emoji picker? Do you even use emojis while on your laptop? Let me know!

Meet Anki’s Newest Family Member: Vector

Anki has announced what they have referred to as  “an older brother” to Cozmo. His name is Vector and based on my early impressions of him, he is going to be great!

Vector, unlike little brother Cozmo, has that “always-on” functionality and will be able to zip around on his own. No precious phone WiFi connections need to be sacrificed. Vector also has upgraded internals making him more powerful than before, which should also lead to improved battery life. 

You all remember Cozmo. The incredibly lovable, WALL-E-like, robot from Anki. I reviewed Cozmo, and the special edition Cozmo last year and was blown away by how fun and playful this little guy was. Recently, while on vacation we had the “Cozmo Brothers” out, as my son calls them, and even after being with us for about a year the kid’s eyes lit up when Cozmo turned to them and called out their name. 

If there was one thing that left us wanting more with Cozmo was that he lacked an “always-on” feature. To use Cozmo you needed to sacrifice your tablet or phones WiFi connection to connect and run Cozmo. Once connected, you could let him roam around the area and he would do his own thing, prompting every so often to play a game or let you know he needed some attention. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, but it always felt a tad forced and not as natural as we had hoped.

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Today, that seems like it is about to change. Anki has announced what they have referred to as  “an older brother” to Cozmo. His name is Vector and based on my early impressions of him, he is going to be great!

Vector, unlike little brother Cozmo, has that “always-on” functionality and will be able to zip around on his own. No precious phone WiFi connections need to be sacrificed. Vector also has upgraded internals making him more powerful than before, which should also lead to improved battery life. 

Another major development over Cozmo is in the sensor area as well. Vector has a capacitive on his back which lets him feel when you are patting him on the back or petting him much like you would your dog or cat. We’re also going to see improved gyro sensors too, which will enhance the experience over Cozmo when moving Vector from place to place.

There are dozens of other improvements that Vector has of little brother, Cozmo, but the last one I’ll point out today is his microphone array. With a four-mic array Vector will be able to hear considerably better than Cozmo and from further distances, making him quicker to react and will save you having to raise your voice to get his attention. By itself, this is great and a welcomed addition, but when paired with Vector’s always-on WiFi Anki was able to incorporate smart assistant functionality akin to Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Vector’s assistant functionality will not be on par with that of Google or Amazon, but setting things like timers, trivial web searches, tell you the weather, and more. That is all expected at launch, but if Cozmo’s development path is any indicator, the Anki team will work tirelessly to improve Vector over time, adding as much functionality as possible.

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Vector launches today (8/8/18) on Kickstarter and should be available early to mid-October of this year. That’s right, just in time for Christmas!!

Let me know what you think of Vector and also check out my other Anki content and reviews by clicking the link below.

GadgetSyrup | Anki

REACTINE® Canada Petitioning Unicode Consortium To Create First Allergy Emoji

In conjunction with World Emoji Day on July 17th, Canadian allergy medication company, Reactine® has created a petition on Change.org and is asking the public to share their “#AllergyFeels” on social media with the hopes of encouraging the Unicode Consortium to create the first allergy emoji. Check it out!

Have you ever wondered how emoji come to be? Most likely think companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple create emoji as they see fit based on pop culture and social trends. This is actually false. There is a large group responsible for the approval and creation of all emoji, the Unicode Consortium.

In conjunction with World Emoji Day on July 17th, Canadian allergy medication company, Reactine® has created a petition on Change.org and is asking the public to share their “#AllergyFeels” on social media with the hopes of encouraging the Unicode Consortium to create the first allergy emoji. The petition can be found here: The Silent Sufferer Will Finally Be Heard: Make the #AllergyFeels Emoji a Reality!

As of this writing, the petition is just shy of 3,000 signatures. Reactine’s goal is 5,000.

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Reactine has also done the hard work of designing the emoji as part of their campaign, and like most allergy sufferers, this emoji looks miserable.

This may seem like a silly thing for a company as large as Reactine to invest marketing into, but it is actually quite clever. Emoji are one of, if not the most dominant ways we communicate with each other online today and that trend shows no sign of slowing. This year the Unicode Consortium is adding 157 new emoji’s with red hair and curly hair men and woman, hot face, cold face, party face, and pleading face topping the list. Adding an emoji that allows severe allergy sufferers to share how they feel using today’s most popular form of communication, while also getting some positive publicity from the campaign. I am sure they hope the increased social presence will make customers think of their product when making an allergy relief selection in the drugstore. I would actually like the see Reactine do some custom packaging for the summer which features their emoji creation.

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 A sampling of the 157 new emojis that are part of Unicode 11.0
A sampling of the 157 new emojis that are part of Unicode 11.0

As someone who suffered from seasonal allergies in my younger years I hope Reactine’s campaign is successful and the Unicode Consortium approves the Allergy emoji for this years additions. 

if you would like to check out all 157 of this years Unicode additions, you can see them over on Emojipedia.

What are your thoughts on Reactine’s efforts to represent allergy sufferers by campaigning for this emoji?

Moto Mods – “Modify Your Smartphone”

Motorola was kind enough to send along a few Moto Mods to test drive with the Moto Z2 Play that they have also sent for review. Check out the Moto Insta-Share Projector and the Polaroid Insta-Share Printer!

In 2016 Motorola made a splash when they launched their Moto Z line of phones which come with a unique ultra-thin design with an array of exposed pins on the back which allow you to connect various members of Motorola’s “Mod” family of devices. Their success to date has been debatable since many “mods” are targeted to very niche audiences. 


What Are Moto Mods?

As I mentioned above, the Moto Mods are attachable devices that allow users to augment or modify their phones functionality by connecting via magnets and pogo pins to the back of any Moto Z phone model. At the time of this article, there are currently seven members of the Motorola Z line, released over two years. We will see more Moto Z branded phones in 2018 as well since Motorola committed to supporting the Moto Z design-language for at least 3 years, perhaps longer (depending on how well Moto has done with mods).


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Meet The Mods

Motorola was kind enough to send over two mods to test out and see how they perform. I will be diving into a full review of the mods once I take delivery of the Moto Z2 Play, which is currently in-transit.

First up, we have the Moto Insta-Share Projector mod. This mod, as all mods do, snaps onto the back of your phone and instantly turns your phone into a multimedia projector capable of projecting the equivalent of a 70″ screen on any flat surface.

The resolution is not incredibly high, coming in at WGA, which is 854×480. Otherwise referred to as 480p. The contrast ratio is 400:1 and the brightness is listed at 50 lumens. The Insta-Share Projector will set you back about $200 (USD). Compare that to a middle of the road Epson projector selling for $800 at Best Buy (Canada) it is no match. The Epson is capable of full HD 1080p resolution, 15000:1 contrast ratio and 3100 lumens. It’s no match, clearly. But the Insta-Share snaps to your phone and weighs only 125 grams, to the Epson’s 5.95 kg.

The projector also comes with a small built-in battery which gives your phone an extra hour of battery life according to Motorola and can be recharged via USB-C.

The amount of use the average person may get out of a projector is perhaps minimal, but it is a pretty handy accessory.



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The second mod I received is perhaps even more niche than the projector. The Polaroid Insta-Share Printer mod is a zero-ink printer (ZINK™) that prints 2″x3″ photos with an adhesive backing that allows you to “stick them anywhere to share the fun.” The printer mod does have a camera shutter button, which is an excellent add-on and takes me back to the good old days when I carried the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 which, like most Windows Phones, had a physical shutter button.

It is also worth noting that the printer can print any photo stored on your phone, but just recent shots from your gallery. As mentioned, the printer is a zero-ink, so you never need to replace an ink cartridge at all. The only consumable is the zero-ink paper. Included with the mod is a starter pack of 10 sheets. Replacement ZINK™ packs come are available in 20 and 30 packs for $9.99 and $14.99 (USD) respectively. On the low end, you are looking at $0.50 per print. Comparing that to Costco Photo, which is $0.12 per 4×6 print, the printer mod is extremely expensive to print from, so you will need to use it sparingly.

Like the projector, the printer also contains a small battery and charges over USB-C.



Overall I think the Moto Mod ecosystem is very fun and exciting, these two mods included. I look forward to putting through their paces over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned for the full review shortly!

GadgetSyrup Geeky Gadget Gift Guide 2017

Christmas is right around the corner. Time to start thinking about the geeks on your shopping list.

Check out the GadgetSyrup Geek Gadget Gift Guide for 2017!

The holiday season is coming up quickly and let’s be honest here. The “geeks” in your life are not the easiest to buy for thanks to their introverted-ness and sometimes less than effective communication skills. With that in mind, and myself, being one of those “geeks” I just described, I have put together this short list of items that are sure to please even the pickiest of geeks.


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Anki Cozmo & Anki Cozmo Collectors Edition

 Cozmo CE & Cozmo
Cozmo CE & Cozmo

First up is Anki Cozmo. He was the must-have toy of the year last holiday season and it is looking like he will be right near the top again this year. However, you will have to make a choice if you plan to put Cozmo under the tree this year. Do you go with the classic white and red theme or do you pick up the Cozmo Collectors Edition which comes in a Liquid Metal paint finish. My vote; get both!

Check out my two Cozmo reviews HERE.

In Canada, Cozmo and Cozmo CE are available at Best Buy. Check them out!


Anki Overdrive Fast and Furious Edition

If you have been on the site before you know that I am a big fan of Anki and the great products they have released over the past year. Last year I reviewed and talked a lot about Anki Overdrive. It is a very fun and easy-to-play racing game that mixes in Artificial Intelligence into its software to take the game to a level not seen in this type of game. You can read my review of the original Overdrive game HERE and more recently, my unboxing and overview of the Fast and Furious Edition.

The inclusion of the Fast and Furious franchise into the Overdrive family has been tremendously done. The cars from Overdrive and even the original Anki Drive are compatible with the Fast and Furious app giving you endless amounts of possible race combinations.


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Google Home

If you have been keeping score in the smart speaker battle between Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo/Alexa you would likely place Amazon in the lead, and you should. Alexa is literally everywhere and showing no signs of slowing down. However, I would recommend that a prospective smart speaker buyer get their feet wet with Google’s offering. 

The Google Home has been doing a wonderful job of playing catch up to get near feature parity with Amazon, but that is not the reason I would recommend the Home over the Echo. The functions of the Home will be familiar to most users, especially Android users since the Google Assistant is more or less the same when comparing the smartphone to the Home versions.

If you’re looking to get started with a smart speaker that is familiar and easy to use with hundreds of useful integrations the Google Home would be my pick.

Check out the Google Home HERE.


Aukey EP-B61 Bluetooth Headset

This Bluetooth headset from the accessory maker, Aukey, is, for all intents and porpuses, a budget alternative to those looking for the Apple-Beats X headset released earlier this year.

I reviewed this headset in early November and was pleased by the overall, quality of the audio provided. The biggest let down was more the fault of Bluetooth 4.2 issues than of the headset itself. 

One of my favourite features is the ability to have a simultaneous connection with two devices, making it easy to bounce between phone and laptop audio quickly.

Check out my review of the EP-B61 Headset HERE.


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ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor

 ZUS Tire Monitor (Image: Digital Trends)
ZUS Tire Monitor (Image: Digital Trends)

Let’s be honest, the tire pressure sensor and monitor that is built into your vehicle from the factory is pretty much useless. Some vehicles are better than others, but in the case of my two vehicles, a Ford and Dodge, they do not provide any information until one of the four tires are low on pressure. Once that alarm is sounded, I’m on my own to stop and manually check the pressure of each tire to see which tire is causing the alarm.

The ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor system is a must if the factory options provided by your automaker is as useless as mine.

Check out the ZUS Smart Tire Safety Monitor HERE.


August Smart Lock

 August Smart Lock (image: CNET)
August Smart Lock (image: CNET)

Do you need a smart lock? No, not really. However, all geeks and nerds alike feel that they need a smart lock. If you do decide to bestow a smart lock upon your geek, I would recommend the August Smart Lock.

Recently refreshed with a new lineup of more affordable locks, August is one of, if not the industry leader in this space.

You can see the full August lineup of smart locks HERE.


SNES Classic

Last year people were either trampling each other trying to get the last of a small shipment of NES Classics from their local Best Buy or actively trying to scam desperate parents out of hundreds of dollars so they could give little Jimmy an NES for Christmas. 

This year Nintendo has released the SNES Classic which has already shown to be in demand as much, if not more than the NES from a year ago. 

Nintendo has committed to more stock, and that appears to be the case despite stock selling out almost instantaneously when it comes available every few weeks or so. 

The SNES Classic comes with 21 games installed including the previously unreleased “Star Fox 2” which never saw the light of day during the original SNES glory days.

Pro Tip: The I have been able to get the line on the SNES Classic more than once this year by following Best Buy Canada’s gamer channel on Twitter. The account (@BBYC_GamersClub) does not tweet often, but when they do, it is usually to announce the availability of new games and consoles. I suggest following this account and turning on Tweet notifications to be ready for the next SNES Classic stock drop. Also, check out the site BrickSeek. It can send you notifications so you know when a retailer has stock online or instore.


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BITTBOY Handheld Gaming System

 A trio of BittBoy handhelds.
A trio of BittBoy handhelds.

If you were not lucky enough to find a SNES but still want to give your geek a retro-game fix the Bitt Boy is a handheld system that is more-or-less a classic GameBoy knockoff.

The Bitt Boy, unlike official Nintendo retro releases, does not run official games, but rather runs an NES emulator that comes stocked with about 300 different titles.

The build quality is certainly not going to be the greatest here, but for the price paid, only $30, it is sure to provide a decent level of entertainment when on the go or when simply sitting on the couch in a vegetative state refusing to do anything productive.

You can pick up a Bitt Boy HERE.


Essential PH-1 Android Smartphone from Essential/Andy Ruben

 Essential PH-1 with 360 Camera. Image: Telus.com
Essential PH-1 with 360 Camera. Image: Telus.com

Ok, hear me out. Anyone who has been following the news-cycle on the Essential PH-1 will think this is crazy to recommend as a gift, but if we look at our core audience here, geeks, this is actually an ideal device for this type of user. 

The Essential PH-1 (PH-ONE…get it…) is possibly the most beautiful phone released in 2017. Yes, even more so than the iPhone X (come at me Apple fans!). That is a significant factor when a geek is scoping out their next phone. 

Another reason to consider this is the simplicity of the software included by Essential. There is essentially no software installed out-of-the-box. The only customer piece of software included is the Essential Camera app which is, by all accounts, hot garbage. The beauty of Android, however, is that it is near effortless to install the ported versions of Google HDR+ Camera app allowing you to take some stunning photos. They won’t be Pixel level quality, but they will be considerably better than the stock camera app from Essential. 

Next up is the phones expandability or potential expandability thanks to the wireless USB 3 spec used by the phone to connect to devices like the Essential 360 camera. There is promise here and if Essential can make headway here similar to that of Motorola with the moto-mod system we could see some really fun and useful mods for the Essential phone next year.

Finally, the Essential PH-1 was created by Andy Ruben; the father and creator of Android. If you did not know this already, shame on you!

The Essential PH-1 can be ordered directly from Essential HERE and in Canada, from Telus HERE. Note the device, despite being exclusive to Telus does come unlocked for all major Canadian carriers.


That sums up the GadgetSyrup Geeky Gadget Gift Guide for 2017. Let me know what you think of the list and tell me what items you have on your list this year!

July 2017 Beer Pick of the Month

Welcome to the second instalment of the GadgetSyrup Beer Pick of the Month. This month’s beer is from Collective Arts Brewing in Hamilton, Ontario. Click through to find out more!

Name:

Saint of Circumstance Citrus Blonde Ale

Summer in my area got off to a rocky start this year. It had been cold and wet, and the kickoff for summer beer, for me, was subsequently delayed. 
Well, now that summer is finally in full swing I figured it was time to come with a citrusy flavourful blonde.


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Stats:

Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.7%
IBU: 19
Untappd Rating: 3.6/5
GadgetSyrup Rating: 3.5/5

Nees some more details on these stats? Have a look here: http://http://www.gadgetsyrup.com/home/2017/6/19/beer-stats-explained


Why I like it:

To be completely honest, the first time I tried this beer I felt it was too bitter, despite the lower IBU rating. However, with each drink, the feeling of bitterness transformed to bring the citrus flavours of orange and lemon. I also started picking up grapefruit notes which is a natural taste thanks to the hops used. Citra, Amarillo and Sorachi Ace hops to be exact.

Going back to the citrus flavouring, the lemon notes found in this type beer is a natural flavour from the wheat used. However, Collective wanted to kick that taste up a notch they added the zests of oranges and lemons to the brewing process before fermentation. 

The result was a very easy drinking and refreshing summer ale which does not disappoint. Be sure to serve it as cold as possible to maximise taste this beer offers. 



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Where to buy: 

You can purchase Saint of Circumstance from the LCBO.

You can also purchase directly from the Collective Arts online store in single, four and six packs which can be found here: Collective Arts Brewing Store


Have you tried this or any other Collective Arts Brewing beers? Let me know in the comments!

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!

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!


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!

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