Kickstarter Spotlight: STORM 2 Sci-Fi EDC Power Bank For Digital Nomads

The STORM 2 EDC Portable Battery is not your average power bank.

There are a lot, like a lot, of different portable battery packs on the market. You see them everywhere. Like Google Home Minis, you find them everywhere you turn, even in the the bottom of the cereal box. For the most part, they are all the same boring black slab of battery with nothing that sets it apart from the others. Ever once in a while, you find one that stands out. However, they’re a pretty boring category of tech gear.


I will admit, the Pikachu one is pretty damn cool. It also has USB C for charging which is nice ⚡

I don’t use these very often any more. Mostly because they either lack the power to run everything I need them to or just don’t like to lug the ugly bricks around. Then I came across the STORM 2 Power Bank courtesy of Daniel Rubino from Windows Central. Much like Daniel, I find these battery packs tend to all be the same, but the STORM 2 has an LCD which ties into the battery pack’s OS/firmware and the housing for the battery is completely clear. It caught my attention.


I have seen a lot of comparisons to a Cyberpunk-style design, but for me it feels more like a prop from Star Trek.


STORM 2 Power Bank from Kickstarter
Microsoft Surface Duo connected to the Storm 2 Power Bank. 📸: Daniel Rubino

What is the STORM 2 Sci-Fi EDC Power Bank For Digital Nomads?

The STORM 2 is a 27,600mAh / 99.36 Wh battery pack at its core, but it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve. The housing that encases the battery is clear, which serves no purpose other than to look cool and nerdy which is right in my wheelhouse. You can see the battery, circuitry and ports.

On the top-side the STORM 2 has a LCD display which allows you to control the power banks OS/firmware. Yes, this battery pack runs its own OS. The OS runs on a 32-bit M3 ARM MCU chip.

Check out the spec breakdown:

Power100W PD In/Out
3.3-25.2V DC Out
Pass-through charging
Battery27,600mAh/99.36Wh
Panasonic-Sanyo NCR18650GA
Ports2x USB Type-C (100W, 30W)
1x USB Type-A (5V)
1x DC Output (3.3-25.2V/3A)
Display1.14″ IPS TFT LCD
FeaturesAirline Safe Compact Battery Bank
Retro Style Monitor
Manual Power Control
Voltage Protection
Short Circuit, and Temperature Protection
Lifespan500 charges
Recharge time1.5 hours
Size151 x 46 x 59 mm
Weight578 grams
MaterialAluminum Alloy/V0 fireproof chassis

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Using the single button on the battery allows you to control the batteries settings for things like temperature control, voltage, etc.



Thanks to the impressive spec list the STORM 2 can fast-charge 3 devices simultaneously. On their Kickstarter page they state you can “charge your DJI drone with the DC port, MacBook Pro & iPhone with two USB-C ports, and your smart watch at the same time to boost your productivity.” It is pretty impressive that a portable pack this small has the ability to charge a MacBook Pro plus additional peripherals.


Charge your DJI drone with the DC port, MacBook Pro & iPhone with two USB-C ports, and your smart watch at the same time to boost your productivity.


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The DC port which allows for passthrough charging is also key for the STORM 2. Many, or rather most power banks do not allow for this, unless you’re breaking the bank and getting something like the massive Anker batteries that are more akin to a car battery in size. It is this kind of convenience coupled with a good price that make this so compelling.


It is also worth nothing the Watt-Hour size of this battery, which is 99.36Wh. Why 99.36? The STORM 2 is “airline safe” and they were able to achieve this by keeping the battery capacity under the 100Wh airline restriction. When we are allowed to do things like fly again and travel you will be able to bring your STORM 2 with you keeping your devices charged, even above 30,000 ft!


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Where can you buy the STORM 2?

The STORM 2 is currently running its campaign on Kickstarter. The team behind this battery pack reached their goal of $10,000 USD or $12,900 CAD about 5 minutes after going live and the project currently has a little over $200,000 CAD in funding. If you would like to back the STORM 2, Early Bird pricing is still available for $138 CAD + $24 CAD in shipping. The campaign runs until March 25, 2021 and orders are expected to start shipping internationally in April of 2021.

Check out the STORM 2 on Kickstarter

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!

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!

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!

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

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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