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!


Advertisements

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. 


Advertisements
Advertisements

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.


Advertisements
Advertisements

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!


Advertisements
Advertisements

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

Advertisements
Advertisements

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.


Advertisements
Advertisements

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. 


Advertisements
Advertisements

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!

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.


Advertisements
Advertisements

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.



My Next Keyboard: ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II

I have been a religious user of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon since the first generation of the laptop. Now, I haven’t had much of a choice since that is the laptop of choice for my employer, but I have through GadgetSyrup used dozens of other keyboards. The only one that I liked as much as the ThinkPad has been the Surface Book 2.

When I am at work or at my home office though, I spend a fair amount of time using either my desktop or have my X1 Carbon docked and not using its internal keyboard. I always prefer the feel of the X1 keyboard though, so will often use the laptop undocked when typing up a post or a long email. However, I think I found the solution.

On the eve of CES 2020 Lenovo announced the ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II which brings the ThinkPad typing experience to the desktop PC and it looks great!

It’s not cheap though, so it will be a tough pill to swallow when I inevitably purchase one. Lenovo is saying that the ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II will launch in May 2020 for USD $100

The ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II connects to your PC via 2.4Ghz wireless or Bluetooth 5. They keyboard is rechargeable too thanks to its USB-C connection. According to Lenovo a single charge should last for two months depending on your level of use. Since it connects via Bluetooth, this could also be used with other devices, such as an Android phone or tablet.

What do you think of the ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II? Will it be your next keyboard? What other keyboards do you prefer?

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.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

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.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

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

Best Surface Book 2 Accessories

The Surface Book 2 may be the most “complete” notebook on the market in 2018. It checks all the boxes, but like any device, the experience is dramatically improved with the correct accessories.

Check out my list of the best Surface Book 2 Accessories!

The Surface Book 2 may be the most “complete” notebook on the market in 2018. It checks all the boxes, but like any device, the experience is dramatically improved with the correct accessories.

Check out my list of the best Surface Book 2 Accessories!


Megoo Surface Book Tempered Glass Screen Protector

 The Surface Book 2 had a gorgeous touchscreen, so taking care of it should be of the highest priority!

 The Megoo Tempered Glass screen protector is a must. Spec’ed at 9H hardness the Megoo can stand up to scuffs and scratches from nearly any object.

Some lower quality screen protectors cause the display to look faded or dull. That won’t be that case with the Megoo, since it is highly transparent, allowing 94% of light through from the display.

It is also only 0.2mm thick, so added weight and bulk on the display will not be an issue.

You can pick up the  Megoo Surface Book Tempered Glass Screen Protector at Amazon.ca for around $25 CAD.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Xbox One Wireless Controller

The Surface Book 2 packs some serious power. The review unit I have been spending time with of late ships with a Nvidia discrete GPU w/2GB GDDR5,  an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U at 4.2 GHz, and 16 GB of RAM.

With all that power, you’d be doing Microsoft a disservice by not using it for gaming, and you can’t game, properly, without an Xbox One controller.

Selling at the Microsoft Store for $74.99 CAD, the Xbox One controller will work with both your Windows 10 PC and Xbox One game console.


StarTech.com USB-C Docking Station

Surface devices have suffered from a lack of ports to allow users to connect various peripherals and displays. The Surface Book 2 is no exception offering only two USB 3 Type A ports, one USB Type C port and an SDXC slot. Actually, that is better than say the Surface Laptop which peers only a single USB Type A and mini DisplayPort connection, but given the performance abilities of the Book 2, I would have hoped for more connectivity options.

Thankfully, many companies offer various docking station options which give users a variety of ports. One solid example is the StarTech.com DK30A2DH docking station.

The DK30A2DH allows users to connect dual 4k displays, six USB Type A devices, Ethernet, and 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks. All of this connects to the Surface Book 2 via a single USB Type C connection.

The  DK30A2DH sells for just over $227 CAD from Amazon.ca

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


Surface Pen

Any Surface device wouldn’t be complete without a Surface Pen. Since the original Surface release, the Pen has seen dramatic improvements with each new release. The current Surface Pen iteration is incredibly precise with 4,096 pressure points which makes drawing and sketching nearly lag-free.

The Surface Pen doesn’t come cheap though. It will set you back $129.99 CAD.


That’s it! Those are my picks for some of the best Surface Book 2 accessories? Agree? Disagree? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments section below!

 Don’t forget to check out my Surface Book 2 Review while you’re here!

Cozmo Goes Global With Collectors Edition and New Functionality

Everyone’s favourite robot, Cozmo, from Anki is now available to a much larger audience! He is also about to evolve dramatically thanks to a major update to his app which is being pushed out now too!

You can also pick up the Collectors Editon of Cozmo too. Which comes in a sleek Liquid Metal finish.

Check it out!

I have spent a lot of time with Cozmo since he arrived in Canada this summer. Every time Cozmo wakes up and begins to interact with you I am amazed at just how awesome this tiny little piece of tech is. He has learned a lot on his own and has become incredibly more skilled at playing games and completing tasks than he was the first few days he was with us. A game of keep-away was an easy win early on. Now Cozmo can keep up and in a lot of cases, win with ease, forcing us to watch him spin around and brag about his latest victory of us inferior humans. The work Anki has put into the development of Cozmo is truly amazing.

Check out my original Cozmo review right HERE

Since his USA launch last year, Cozmo has grown up a lot, and now he is primed for another growth-spurt.

It has been a pretty incredible run for this little guy. Cozmo had been in development for 5 years before we finally met him last year. He changed a lot over the course of his development before taking his final form at launch. Now, a little less than a year later and only a few months after coming north to Canada, Cozmo is ready to take over the world (in a cute and fun way, not in a Skynet rise of the machines kind of way. I promise…I hope).


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});



The work Anki has put into the development of Cozmo is truly amazing


Prior to today, Cozmo was only available in the USA and most recently, Canada. However, thanks to a lot of hard work from Anki, Cozmo is now available in the U.K., Japan, France, Germany and the Nordic countries. I mentioned above that Cozmo was primed for a growth-spurt too. Aside from rolling into new countries today, Cozmo’s application is seeing a major update to take your interaction level up significantly. 

Prior to today, Cozmo was pretty easy to manage and get a long with. You would play with him by teaching him new games and tasks and play them with or against him with the goal being to fully charge his emotions to unlock more functionality. The update being pushed today is set to “transform” the way you interact with him. 


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


Cozmo now has three specific “needs” to keep his development moving along.

  • Play: Cozmo is smart (maybe too smart), and that means he’ll get bored without entertainment. You can keep his Play meter filled by playing games with him, helping him perform tricks, and letting him explore and interact with his Power Cubes.
  • Feed: You have to eat every day, right? So does Cozmo. Except he eats energy, which he gets from his Power Cubes. He needs your help to stay fed. When he’s satisfied, he’s more likely to play!
  • Tune Up: Cozmo’s a robot, and like other robots, he needs a quick fix every now and then. You can help him stay in tip-top shape by giving him a Tune-Up.

 If you don't play with Cozmo he will get bored. He is a pretty intelligent little guy, so lots of play helps him grow and learn more.
If you don’t play with Cozmo he will get bored. He is a pretty intelligent little guy, so lots of play helps him grow and learn more.

 Keep Cozmo fed to boost his energy levels.
Keep Cozmo fed to boost his energy levels.

 Like any robot, Cozmo may need a tune up after a busy day of play and exploration.
Like any robot, Cozmo may need a tune up after a busy day of play and exploration.


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


As was the case before, the more you put into Cozmo, the more you get out of him. Just like training a pet. If you focus a lot of time and energy on him, the quicker he will pick up skills and be able to do more on his own.

If you have not had the update pushed to your Android or iOS device yet, sit tight, it should be ready for download soon.

Along with being available in more countries and seeing a major app update, Anki is also bringing us a new version of Cozmo, the Collectors Edition which is essentially the same Cozmo we all know and love, but in a sleek Liquid Metal finish. I haven’t been able to get my hands Cozmo just yet, as he seems to be taking the scenic route to get up to Canada. However, as soon as he arrives and meets his elder sibling I will be putting him through the paces to see how they two compare and most importantly, interact with each other. Stay tuned!



//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


While we await the CE edition of Cozmo, some homework.

  1. Check out my original Cozmo review right HERE.
  2. Check out the blog post from Anki announcing the upgrades to Cozmo’s app right HERE.
  3. Check out a few of the Cozmo accessories now available!
    1. Tread Pack: You can outfit your Cozmo in a new set of treads in the following colours: Osmosis Blue, Luminous Lime, New Dawn Yellow and Crimson Flame.
    2. Carrying Case: Cozmo deserves more than the bottom of your bag. Let Cozmo travel in style in a custom molded carrying case that holds Cozmo, his power cubes and charger.


As mentioned, the CE edition of Cozmo is on his way here to meet his big brother. So stay tuned for a full review soon and let me know what you think of the work Anki has put into Cozmo.

Will he be on your Christmas list this year?

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.



//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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!


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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?

**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.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});



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?


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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.


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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. 



//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});



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!

**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.


//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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.”

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. 

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

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!



//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

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.


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

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!


//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=gadgetsyrup-20&o=15&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=as_ss_li_til&asins=B0157Z3I7Y&linkId=cf7d0cee103bc2aa4e6051b3634cab25//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=gadgetsyrup-20&o=15&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=as_ss_li_til&asins=B00V69523O&linkId=b9f934da10cb220579f02d9635a1585e

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

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.


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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.

//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?ref=qf_sp_asin_til&t=gadgetsyrup-20&m=amazon&o=15&p=8&l=as1&IS1=1&asins=B01H3PEWDK&linkId=3f298209d0df9c03ab084632bba1f467&bc1=FFFFFF&lt1=_top&fc1=333333&lc1=0066C0&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?ref=qf_sp_asin_til&t=gadgetsyrup-20&m=amazon&o=15&p=8&l=as1&IS1=1&asins=B01H3PF2AM&linkId=2f876734f9ad316a561e9f62bbbdf1a9&bc1=FFFFFF&lt1=_top&fc1=333333&lc1=0066C0&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Special Anki Overdrive “Fast and Furious” Edition Coming in September

Anki is back it with an upgraded special edition Overdrive Kit featuring some of your favourite cars and characters from the Fast and Furious franchise.

Last year I reviewed the Overdrive Starter Kit from Anki, makers of the Cozmo robot. We had a lot of fun testing these AI-powered Super Cars out using the included specialized start track. Check out that review here.


There is a bevy of different Supercars, Supertrucks and track accessories available for purchase to keep the fun going, but Anki is bringing something new this fall, just in time for the holidays.

Anki has formed a partnership with the Fast and Furious franchise to release the Fast and Furious Edition which will be available this September for $229.99 (CAD) or $169.99 (USD).

The special edition will give Overdrive fans Dom’s Ice Charger, Hobbs’ MST and a “new exclusive track piece.” This new track piece is listed as the “Power Zone” in the specs for the new kit. It is also worth noting that the new kit ships with one less straight track piece than the standard starter kit and includes in 12 guardrails.

It is worth noting that users will need to download a different version of the Overdrive app, designed specifically for the Fast and Furious Edtion. 

Anki also told me that Hobbs’ MXT and Dom’s Ice Charger will not be made available as stand-alone vehicles for purchase. So, if you are looking to experience Overdrive the Fast and Furious way, you will need to purchase the entire kit. 

http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_cw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=CA&ID=V20070822%2FCA%2Fgadgetsyrup-20%2F8010%2F558f350f-bb8d-4ab4-baf8-9ae04e445819&Operation=GetScriptTemplate Amazon.ca Widgets

Pre-Orders for the Fast and Furious Overdrive edition begin May 16. You can sign up for notifications on Anki.com.

You can read the full press release from Anki here

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

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.


//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


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.

**Update** Happy Mario Day! Will Super Mario Run For Android Launch Today?

Will March 10th – MAR10 Day – finally be the day Nintendo releases Super Mario Run to Android users? 

Update: Nintendo has made March 23rd the official release date for Super Mario Run.  

 Are you excited or is it too late? 

Happy Mario Day!

Today is March 10th, which is also Mario Day, you know, because MAR10.

We all had hoped that today would be the big day for us Android users. The day where Super Mario Run finally made its wa over to Android, so we could join all our iOS user friends in playing the game that we have waited so long for.

Well as of 11:00 am EST there is still no Super Mario Run in the Google Play Store. At the time of this post, the first banner ad on the Play Store is still telling us that Mario will arrive soon.


 Is today the day, Mario?
Is today the day, Mario?


There is still a chance that Mario will make his long-awaited debut for Android today, but knowing Nintendo, we will be left waiting.

I hope that by then end of the day I have updated this article and my wallet will be $10 lighter. Fingers crossed!

At the very least you can have another look at the Play Store screenshots.


Review: Aukey Neckband Bluetooth Headset (AUKEY EP-B20)

Looking for a more affordable alternative to the Apple-Beats X Bluetooth headphones? Check out my review of the AUKEY EP-B20 Neckband headset. For $23 how do they stack up?

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of buzz around the release of the Beats X from Apple. 

The Beats X take advantage of Apples W1 chip, which is also found in the Apple Airpods. The W1 chip allows for nearly instant pairing to most Apple products. Open the dental floss case of the Airpods, or turn on the Beats X near your iOS or macOS device and you are immediately prompted to pair. You can also use the aforementioned Apple products with Android device too, but you will not be met with the instantaneous pairing. The Airpods also end up being pretty limited in their use.

I am not an iOS or macOS user, and I am not too concerned with the instant pairing offered by the W1 chip. What I am concerned with is having a quality set of Bluetooth earbuds or headset that work consistently, when I turn them on, each and every time. Something that, unfortunately, most Bluetooth headsets do not offer.

With all of this in mind, I almost pulled the trigger on the $179.99 (CAD) Apple Beats X headphones (sorry the Airpods are not my style). They looked good; they appeared to function well according to most reports in the media, but wow, they are expensive. Being expensive is a Beats tradition. You are paying a Beats/Apple tax when you buy these products because they are just as much a status symbol as other products from Apple. Don’t get me wrong, though; Apple hardware is almost always the best quality you will find in the consumer market.

Eventually, I decided not to buy them, at least not yet, and thought, maybe there is an equivalent product on the market that performs just as well (on Android) for a fraction of the cost. My first stopping point was Amazon. I immediately chose to see what Aukey had to offer since I have been every impressed with their other headset options in the past. I recently reviewed a foldable over-the-ear set (https://www.gadgetsyrup.com/home/2016/12/6/review-aukey-foldable-bluetooth-headphones), as well as a behind the head sport-style headset (https://www.gadgetsyrup.com/home/2016/9/14/aukey-water-resistant-sport-bluetooth-headphones) and enjoyed them both very much.

After looking through the different offerings, I found the Aukey EP-B20s which are a neckband style headset more like the LG Tones than the Beats X, but it was the closest available at this moment in time.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});



The Aukey Neckband Headset will set you back $22.99 (CAD) on Amazon Canada right now, which is nearly $160 cheaper than the Beats X.

Now, obviously you are thinking, a $23 headset will not stand up to a $200 headset, and you are likely right. The question, however, is if they are good enough.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX



Inside the box, you will find the familiar packing items found in all Aukey products

– Headset
– microUSB charging cable
– small and large ear tips
– manual
– warranty insert



BUILD QUALITY

The first thing I will say about the build quality is to remember that this headset costs only $23.

The makeup of the headset is mostly plastic with some rubberized components as well. These materials provide for a very light headset, making it very comfortable for you to wear around your neck for prolonged periods. The trade-off, however, is that they feel as cheap as they cost. I’m not very confident that this headset will stand up for very long. 

The power button is a toggle style switch that feels as though it will break apart at any given moment. Often I have to toggle it a few times to turn the headset on or off. I am pretty sure this will be the first point of failure for this headset.



My next concern with the build is the call and playback controls. Overall, they work fairly well, but they are rather gummy, and on a few occasions the Play/Pause button has gotten stuck, which required some massaging of the button to release it again.

The lightweight build of the neckband should logically lend itself well to exercise and fitness. It is a mixed bag here. For weight lifting, sure, they are fine. However, they can get in the way in some cases when compared to a traditional Bluetooth headset.

Running with the neckbands, however, is not a desirable experience. Regardless of their weight, this style will cause a lot of distraction during a run. I ran for about 30 minutes on the treadmill with them on and while they did stay in my ears no problem, but the band itself was always banging off my collarbone. 



SOUND QUALITY

The audio output of the neck buds headset was pretty respectable for a budget pair. I have said it many times before, but let me repeat it. I am not an audiophile in any way at all. However, I can discern and appreciate the difference between “good” and “bad” audio output.

Most of my listening is to audio books and podcasts. Not very often do I listen to music through a headset. The Aukey’s do offer more bass than most other budget brands found on Amazon such as MPOW. However, it is not a significant improvement.

Never did I experience any issues with the audio levels being too high or low and volume levels can get high enough to be heard in a busy environment.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

BATTERY LIFE

I think the most impressive aspect of the neckband is the excellent battery life. I have been using the Aukey EP-B20’s for about two weeks now, and I have found that the battery just keeps going and going.



On more than one occasion, I have left the band turned on for hours on end with intermittent periods of listening or standby. Not once have I heard the familiar “chirp-chirp, battery low” interruption. I usually plug the band in every 2-3 days and let them charge back up overnight. 

SHOULD YOU BUY THESE?

Overall, I have been pleasantly surprised with how positive my experience with the Aukey EP-B20 neckband has been. They are comfortable for extended periods of time, designed fairly well, and have excellent battery life. There are some shortcomings and limitations to their design. However, I feel that the positives outweigh the negatives enough to recommend these to others. Remember, they are only $23, not $200, but they deliver much more than the $23 price tag would lead you to think.

What do you think? Are the Aukey’s an acceptable budget alternative the Beats X or would you rather shell out the dough to get the more premium offerings?

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse Review

Check out my review of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse. I recently decided it was time to improve my ergonomic setup after taking a few weeks off of work, only to return to a considerable amount of discomfort when I started using a mouse again.

I recently took a few weeks off of work, spending next to no time at all using a mouse. My computer use was limited to either my Surface Pro as a tablet or my Nexus 6P phone.

Upon returning to work, I almost immediately felt discomfort and pain in my right hand. At first, it was not significant, but after a few days of using my mouse again my hand was considerably irritated. Clearly the discomfort was being caused by the use of a mouse. 

I had often considered an ergonomic mouse in the in the past, but alway stuck with my traditional standard notebook mouse from Logitech. The older Logitech MX Anywhere to be concise.

However, the direct correlation between my hand pain and mouse use was enough to kick the search for a better, more ergonomic mouse into full gear.

I was strongly considering the Anker offering which looks much like a shark fin. However, after using it on-loan from a co-worker for a week or two, it was too dramatic of a design to be useful for me. I have larger than average hands which made the shark fin design almost more challenging to use than a traditional style mouse.

Having used and enjoyed the Bluetooth Microsoft Sculpt Comfort mouse in the past I decided to “pull the trigger” on Microsofts Ergonomic mouse.



The Sculpt Ergonomic mouse is shaped much like a baseball and does an effective job of keeping your wrist and hand in a more natural position. When holding a traditional mouse, your radius and ulna are crossed with each other. This will inevitably lead to discomfort. A more natural resting position for your arm/wrist/hand is found when holding your arm on its side, or with your palm up.

I have used the Sculpt Ergonomic mouse for a little over two weeks now. I am very pleased with the immediate comfort and relief provided to my hand and wrist in such a short period.

The mouse comes with a few useful features as well that any modern mouse should come with at minimum.

  • Scroll wheel
  • Windows Button
  • Back Button

Those are pretty basic features found on most mice today. However, many ergonomic offerings lack these, as they are focusing on the form, more than the function. 

The absence of a forward button is unfortunate considering that amount of space available on the thumb side of the mouse.

My biggest issue with the mouse is not with the physical mouse itself but rather its choice of connectivity to the PC. In a time where port-limited ultrabooks reign supreme, Microsoft elected to use a 2.4Ghz wireless connection which requires a dongle.


#DONGLELIFE


Almost all wireless peripherals today are using Bluetooth rather than 2.4Ghz wireless, including many of Microsofts own keyboards and mice. Not only did they choose the #donglelife for users of this mouse, but the size of the dongle used is a bit disappointing.



The mouse takes advantage of Microsofts “BlueTrack” technology, which allows users to use the mouse on nearly any surface, including glass and is powered by two AA batteries.

Another thoughtful design choice Microsoft made with the Sculpt Ergonomic mouse is the battery door. Rather than a traditional click-in design, this one uses magnets to keep the door secure. Removing the door also reveals a slot to stow-away the massive wireless dongle for safe keeping while on the go. 

SHOULD YOU BUY THIS?

I would absolutely recommend this mouse over others for users who are either dealing with some sort of discomfort while using their current mouse or simply wanting to make a healthier choice ergonomically to avoid future unwanted pain while using the computer.

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse can be purchased from Amazon for $55.43 CAD with a Prime Membership.


Anki Overdrive Review

After talking about Anki and Overdrive for months, I finally got my hands on the Overdrive Starter Kit to review.

If you’re still looking for that big gift for the kids, this may be exactly what you are looking for!

I’ve been talking a lot about Anki’s products over the last few months. It started with Cozmo, which is giving the NES Classic Edition a run for its money in the battle for top toy supremacy this holiday season. 

After I had learned about and fell in love with Cozmo and Anki, I discovered their other AI-powered product, Overdrive. 

Overdrive, as I have explained it, is akin to a Hot Wheels track on steroids combined with Mario Kart. It is app enabled and AI driven. It is also loads of fun! 

Thanks to the folks at Anki, I have now had the opportunity to test out the Overdrive Starter Kit. Read on for the full review!


WHAT’S IN THE BOX

 Relax, Brad. It's just a race track.
Relax, Brad. It’s just a race track.

Inside the Overdrive starter kit, you will find the following.

– 2 Robotic Supercars named Skull and Ground Shock
– 6 curved track pieces
– 4 straight track pieces
– 2 track riser pieces
– 1 tire cleaner
– 1 charging base, which accommodates up to 4 cars

Once you have unpacked and set up your track in one of 8 possible configurations, you will need to head over to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download the Anki Overdrive application. Sorry Windows Mobile users…

The Overdrive app is available on devices running iOS 8 and up, and Android 5 and up.


HOW DOES THE AI WORK

So how exactly does artificial intelligence drive this “toy”? Well, you have a lot of input, and control over your own Supercar, but the cars you are racing against will use their AI to scan the track, allowing them to set the best racing course. Your opponents also use AI to understand your racing habits while it plans out how to track you down and disable you. 

Each car and virtual commander can consider more than 50,000 possible actions to defeat you on the track. Anything from zipping around you on the last turn or disabling you with a flurry of weapon attacks from the onset of the race.

Each car has a unique set of attributes and arsenal of weapons to use during a race. Skull, for example, is not the quickest Supercar, nor does he have the greatest defense, but his firepower packs enough of a punch to take down nearly any opponent. Whereas, Ground Shock packs a lot less firepower but can use his speed to stay far enough ahead to avoid weapon blasts.

SETUP AND GAMEPLAY

After setting up the track, which clicks together using magnets, you are ready to go. Launching the app on your phone or tablet then prompts you to place your Supercars on the charging base so they can sync with your device and perform any needed updates. 

Once that it is out of the way, the app will prompt you to place the cars on the track and choose from one of the following game modes.

– Race – First across the line wins
– Battle – Take our your opponents, scoring points to win
– Time Trial – Race the clock
– King of the Hill – Hold the lead longer than the rest of the pack to win
– Tournament – Battle the AI through various challenges. Take them all down to win!

The controls of the app while racing is very easy to figure out. My only gripe with the app was that I could not flip the controls horizontally on the screen. I was forced to use my left hand to control my cars speed. I would have preferred to flip it, giving speed controls to my dominate hand.

Before you start racing, each car needs to learn the track configuration you have setup. To do this, the Supercars are equipped with dedicated CPUs and IR camera scan the specially coated track 500 times per second. The cars will now know exactly where they are on the race track.

Once the track scan is complete, this is where the real fun began for me. The race to an observer may be rather boring to watch, but being in control of one of the cars is a lot of fun. 

You start off at full speed and jump ahead of your opponent, only to look down and see your being pulled in by a tractor beam. Once you’ve been reeled in, you are now under fire from a short range missile attack. Firing back with your tractor beam brings your opponent back into range will allow you to take them down with something like a plasma cannon. That may not be enough, though. To deliver the final blow and pull away from your enemy, you may need to slow down to crawl, get in line with them and drop a depth charge to stop them in their tracks. Now you can floor it and take the lead for the remainder of the race.

All of the above is done with your smartphone or tablet with a few simple controls. I should also add; you can steer your car by tilting your device left of right to move across the four racing lanes.

Between the gameplay on your device and seeing the cars zip around the track is a lot of fun. Kids are sure to love it, and even the kid in all of us will enjoy joining in on the fun.

 You're dog may want to join in on the fun too!
You’re dog may want to join in on the fun too!


QUALITY

The quality of the track, cars, and app are all excellent. 

The track, as mentioned snaps together using magnets. Not once did I encounter any issues with it staying together,  even when using the riser pieces to add a small hill to the racing environment.

The cars are made mostly out of plastic, especially the outer body. I had no issues with their durability during my testing period, however, over time there could be cause for concern if you frequently use the collision figure 8 track setup or introduce the much larger, heavier Supertrucks into the mix. I do not think this is a major concern, but something to consider.

Back to the track. I was amazed at how well the cars clung to the track. I recall growing up; I had a race car track that used remote controlled, motorized cars that held onto the track with the weakest of magnets. Every turn at high speed would send your car sailing off the track. This was never the case with Overdrive. With the tight turns, banked corners, and moderate collisions the cars stayed on the track. Even when the clipped the edge of the track, the AI was able to get you car back on track and remain in the race.


BOTTOM LINE – SHOULD YOU BUY OVERDRIVE

Absolutely! The cost of this product may seem high when compared to other similar products, but the gaming experience and the intelligence of the AI-powered opponents make it worth the extra investment.

There are also several ways you can add to the Overdrive fun by adding additional track pieces, other cars, and trucks which can inject new life into the product once the shine wears off.

You can buy Overdrive starter kits addition Supercars or Supertrucks and accessories from Anki, Amazon, and Toys R’ US.

http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_cw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=CA&ID=V20070822%2FCA%2Fgadgetsyrup-20%2F8010%2F558f350f-bb8d-4ab4-baf8-9ae04e445819&Operation=GetScriptTemplate Amazon.ca Widgets

Geeky Gadget Gift Guide

Looking for the perfect gift for the geeks in your life? Check out a few that are likely to be on every geeks wishlist this holiday season.

Trying to find the perfect gifts for the geeks in your life? Check out these recommendations from GadgetSyrup!

 

Cozmo, the real-life robot from Anki

By now you’ve probably heard of Cozmo, the adorable life-like robot inspired by Pixar’s WALL-E character. This holiday season Cozmo is only available in the United States, but would make a great gift for the geek on your list. He is an AI powered palm-sized robot that will roam around your desk, table or the whole room. While he is out and about Cozmo will play games and interact with those he encounters. He is sure to be a hit with anyone of any age. 

Check out my piece on Cozmo from earlier this year. “Anki Cozmo: Our Future Tiny Robot Overlord”.

Check out Cozmo over at Anki.com. He can be purchased for $179.99 USD


Star Wars BB-8 with Force Band

Right on the heels of Cozmo is last years robot toy of choice, BB-8. However, this years version of our new favourite Star Wars droid comes with something really cool. The “Force Band”.

The Force Band, from Sphero, allows you to control your BB-8 App Enabled Droid using hand gestures. You can also use the Force Band to discover and collect digital “Holocrons” around you.

The BB-8 with Force Band can be picked up from Sphero for $199.99 USD. If your geek is lucky enough to already own a BB-8 droid, the Force Band can be purchased on its own for $79.99 USD.

In Canada, you can pick up BB-8 with Force Band for $249.99 CAD or $99.99 CAD for the Force Band only from Best Buy.

Get BB-8 SE with Force Band

Gen Force Band Only


Tile Bluetooth Tracker

The Tile is a Bluetooth enabled “tag” that you can clip to your key ring, laptop bag, put in your wallet, or any other essential item. 

Using the Tile App, you will be able to sound the alarm on your lost item so you can stop searching and get out the door. 

Another really interesting use for the Tile that I have seen in other reviews and posts, is attaching it to your dog or child. I’m not sure if I’d make use of my Tile this way, but hey, you never know.

The Tile comes in two size and will cost you anywhere from $25 USD for the smaller Tile Mate to $30 USD for the Tile Slim. You can also purchase multi and combo packs if your geek has a tendency to lose track of more than just their keys.

Check out my review of the Tile from earlier this year.

Get the Tile Mate

Get the Tile Slim


Anki Overdrive

If you thought that Cozmo was a really cool geek gift, I’m sure you will find Overdrive to be just as awesome.

Also made by Anki, Overdrive is a lot like the Hot Wheel tracks you may have had as a kid, except this track uses a special coating that is scanned by semi-autonomous Supercars and Supertrucks that race around the track trying to blast the competition off the track. 

Read more about Overdrive here!

The Overdrive Starter Kit costs $149.99 USD or $199.99 CAD

Additional cars, trucks and accessories start at around $15 up to $80.

Get the Overdrive Starter Kit (Canada)

Get the Overdrive Starter Kit (USA)


Ring Video Doorbell

The Ring Video Doorbell is one my favourite products I’ve discovered this year. 

Ring, as the name indicates is a video enabled doorbell. It installs in place of your existing doorbell, or can be ran off of a rechargeable battery if your home does not have doorbell wiring. 

When someone rings your doorbell, the Ring app on your phone will activate the video feed from the camera while also enabling two way communication between you and your visitor.

Why does this matter? Why not get up and answer to door? Well, it is actually quite simple. Say you’re not home and someone comes to the door with a package? You can let the driver know to leave it on the step, or leave it with a neighbour. Another benefit from the Ring and the two way communication it offers is break in deterrence. It is well known that most break ins actually happen during the day while you are away at work. The burglar will come to the door, see if you’re home and then proceed to go around back and break in. With the Ring, you will 1) see the would be burglar, 2) tell him your unable to come to the door, giving the allusion that you are home and 3) should he break in anyways or come back another time, you have video evidence for the police.

The Ring would make an excellent gift for your geek to help them protect their home along with all their geeky goodies.

The Ring starts at $199 USD.

Get the Ring Video Doorbell


R2-D2 Coffee Press

 The coffee is strong with this one...
The coffee is strong with this one…

Every geek needs coffee to function. It is a well known fact. It is also a well known fact that every geek loves Star Wars. 

So why not put the two together in the form of an RD-D2 coffee press? Head over to ThinkGeek.com and check this out. 

There really isn’t much to say about it. StarWars + Coffee = Happy Geeks

Get the R2-D2 Coffee Press


Google Chromecast

Starting at $45 the Chromecast is quickly becoming a must have for all, not just geeks. 

What does it do?

The Chromecast is a media streaming device that you connect directly to the HDMI port on your TV. From there, using either the Cast app, or the cast function from directly in a supported app, you can display your movies, shows, games or pictures from your phone or tablet to your TV screen. No wires needed!

With cord cutting no longer being a fringe topic and is now a reality for many.

Get the Chromecast from Google

4moms Self-Installing Car Seat

Installing a car seat is a scary thing. You never truly know if it was done properly. It does not have to be that way any longer. The Self-Installing car seat from 4moms ensures that your seat is installed correctly and that you baby is riding safely.

As a father of 3, I have installed and reinstalled many car seats over the years. It is never fun, and you never know if it is 100% correct. Is it uneven? Is it tight enough, too tight? No matter how many times I have installed the seat, I always have a small amount of doubt in my mind and fear that it was installed incorrectly.

If only there were a way to ensure it was installed correctly. Sure, you could go to a car seat clinic usually put on police or fire services, but again, they are also eye-balling the installation and hoping for the best.

Now there is. The 4moms self-installing car seat will give you that peace of mind that your seat was installed correctly and your baby is as safe as possible.

Once you have placed the seat base in the car and connected the anchors on both sides of the seat, the automated portion of the installation takes over from there. Using the 4moms application on your smartphone, the seat will tighten the UAS anchors to correct level of tension. Next, the app will signal the seat to level-out, ensuring that it is completely level with the ground below.

Not only does the application show you this information, but the seat base itself also has an LCD screen as well.

It does not end there, though. By way of the application, the seat will be continuously be monitored, alerting you to any issues with latching, leveling, tension, battery and child size.

One thing we always have had a concern with regarding the installation of our infant carrier was if the baby was too big to stay in the carrier. Or perhaps the harness is too high/too low. The 4moms application covers this as well.

It is great to see a company like 4moms investing in technology add-ons for devices such as car seats. It is known that 4 out of 5 car seats are installed correctly, yet, most manufacturers do little to improve their products to ensure a correct installation. 

The 4moms self-installing car seat can be purchased directly from 4moms for $499.99 and is available in gray or black. They ship for free in the USA and Canada.

It is also available from Amazon US for $479.99 USD. It does not appear to be available on Amazon Canada.

Fizzics Waytap

Beer was never intended to be bottled or canned, placed into warehouses and shipped around the world. It was intended to be poured from a freshly tapped keg.

However, that is the reality we live in and this reality means that the beer we consume does not live up to its full taste potential. 

This is where the Waytap from Fizzics comes in. Check it out!

This has to be one of my favourite products of the year, and it is not even a tech product. Or at least not in the scope of tech products covered on GadgetSyrup.

Over the past few years, I have taken a significant interest in beer. Specifically, craft beer. For years I bounced around from brew to brew trying to find one that was sufficient. Then, after being introduced to craft beer when my wife gave me a mix of different craft brews as a birthday gift, I was instantly hooked and was officially a beer snob. I can’t even bring myself to drink a beer made by one of the big brewer conglomerates such as Labatt’s, Molson or Anheuser-Busch. Simply put, their beer is just bad.

Ok, rant over on how most beer is bad, and how craft beer is excellent. Let’s move onto the Fizzics Waytap.


I stumbled upon the Waytap recently and was intrigued by the concept. What’s better than craft beer? Craft beer on tap, that’s what.

What is the Fizzics Waytap?

It is an easy way to turn almost any can or bottle of beer into a draft beer. The intent of this product is to unlock your beers maximum taste potential.

Why would you want this?

 

Beer was never intended to be bottled or canned, placed into warehouses and shipped around the world. It was meant to be poured from a freshly tapped keg. 

However, that is the reality we live in, and this fact means that the beer we consume does not live up to its full taste potential. 

This is where the Waytap from Fizzics comes in. More below the break!


How does it work?

After loading your favourite brew into the Waytap, press down on the tap to pour your beer. The Waytap pours your beer under pressure, so it keeps the proper level of carbonation. Then, before the pour is complete, pressing the handle backward routes the beer through the Waytaps “sonic oscillator” providing the beer with a full body texture that you usually only see at the pub.


The Waytap was available on Kickstarter and Indiegogo and managed to crush their funding goal but almost 2000%. You can place a pre-order now with delivery sometime in the month of December. 

The Waytap would make the perfect gift for any beer-lover in your life.

Learn more about the Waytap here.

 

With Eclipse, Cable Management Has Never Looked So Good

Tired of seeing a constant mess of cables scattered around the house or on your bedside table? Check out the Eclipse. A new, neater way to charge your daily devices.

We all suffer from this problem. We either have chargers and cables all over the house or have tried to consolidate the mess by keeping it contained to a charging station. The problem with both of those scenarios is that no matter how hard you try, the cables are always a visible mess.

The solution? Well, I mean, kinetic charging would be fantastic, but we are decades away from that. In the meantime, you may want to check out Eclipse. A new, neater way to charge your daily devices.

Currently available for backing on Kickstarter, the Eclipse is a pretty nice looking solution for charging your devices.

With a light touch to the top of the unit, which comes in various wood grain style colours (and marble) the top of the station rises to reveal the up to three cables stored inside.

Using a precision fit design, your cables coil up inside the charging station and when not in use, are 100% stored away, tangle free. Rather than simply hiding the mess, the Eclipse manages that mess for you.

The size of the Eclipse is large enough for you to house up to 24 feet of total cable length (3 cables) but small enough that it will not take up much space on the counter or the bedside stand. The Eclipse also comes with its 4 foot long power cable giving you an extra bump on cable length compared to using just the charger and wall-wart that came with your phone, tablet or another device.

The Eclipse will also charge your devices at the fast possible speed allowed by your device, by intelligently increasing the amps that it is pushing out to your device (up to a max of 2.4A on USB A and 3A on USB C).

With future-proofing in mind, the charging hub contains both USB Type A and USB Type C connections ensuring compatibility with yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s devices.

 Slide to the left... Now slide to the right...
Slide to the left… Now slide to the right…

Eclipse also solves another problem we all have, especially if we charge our devices bed-side. The problem of fumbling around in the dark trying to find a cable for your phone while also trying not to knock everything off the table and wake up your wife. That has never happened to me, but maybe you can relate.

When the top of the station is touched to open and reveal the cables stored inside, the Eclipse emits a subtle hue from the bottom of the unit given just enough light to find the cables inside.

The Eclipse is also wall mountable which is a very nice added touch.

What do you think? Leave a comment below, and feel free to share your cable management solutions as well!

To learn more about the Eclipse charging station along with their various other cable offerings check out their Kickstarter page.

Way Back Play Back: Sega Mega Drive Returns

Whats old is new again with the Sega Mega Drive making a return to manufacturing. Earlier this year we had the NEW Classic from Nintendo. Now we have a return, of sorts, from Sega with the Mega Drive.

The age old battle that was Sega vs. Nintendo and which was best is still raging on decades after the two companies launched the Sega Genesis aka Mega Drive and Nintendo Entertainment System. You were either all in on Sega and hated the evil Nintendo or vise-sersa. Well, it doesn’t need to be that way anymore.

Earlier in the year, there was the release of the NES in a smaller form factor known as the NES Classic Edition which allowed you to play 30 different classic NES games that were pre-loaded onto the system.

Now it is Sega’s turn for a comeback of sorts with the Sega Mega Drive. Can we even call it a comeback, though? Maybe the Mega Drive never left?

Apparently, the Mega Drive system still sells around 150,000 units each year in Brazil. As a result of this a Brazilian company named Tectoy is going to be manufacturing under the Sega name as an officially licensed Sega product. Tectoy was the maker of the original Mega Drive in the late 80’s, early 90’s.

Here is the list if you were wondering:

  • ALEX KIDD
  • ALIEN STORM
  • ALTERED BEAST
  • ARROW FLASH
  • BONANZA BROTHERS
  • COLUMNS
  • DECAP ATTACK
  • E-SWAT
  • FATAL LABYRINTH
  • FLICKY
  • GAIN GROUND
  • GOLDEN AXE
  • GOLDEN AXE 3
  • JEWEL MASTER
  • KID CHAMELEON
  • LAST BATTLE
  • OUT RUNNERS
  • SEGA SOCCER
  • SHADOW DANCER
  • SHINOBI 3
  • SONIC 3
  • TURBO OUTRUN

This new incarnation of the Mega Drive has been designed to look and function almost exactly like the original version from 1989, including the original iconic Sega 3-button controller. The difference, this Mega Drive will come with 22 games pre-loaded. 

The chance of this selling well outside of Brazil seems to be slim, though. The Mega Drive will only connect to TV’s via traditional composite AV cables instead of modern inputs like HDMI. Price isn’t going to help either, coming in at $138 (plus shipping and import fees).

Regardless, though, it is fun to see these old systems make a comeback in some way or another. Fortunately for me, anytime I feel the pang of desire to play Sega Mega Drive games, I can just pull mine off the shelf and hook it up!

What do you think? Is the re-release of the Mega Drive, and previously the NES Classic, just a gimmick, or an excellent adventure into the past?

%d bloggers like this: