Best Camping Tech for 2021

If you are going camping this summer, you are going to want to check out this list of the best camping and outdoor tech.

While it is certainly nice to step away from the busy tech-focused world we live in, leaving our phones and computers behind, there is also something to be said for getting away on an adventure with the best outdoor tech and gadgets available. 

Check out my list of the best camping and outdoor tech for 2021 


BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE 2 – $299.95

I covered the BIOLITE CampStove 2 back in back 2017 when it was first released. The CampStove 2 is a portable wood burning stove that converts heat into electricity. 

BioLite’s patented core technology captures waste heat from the fire through a heat probe attached to the stove’s power pack. The captured heat is converted into electricity via a thermoelectric generator. This powers a fan and sends electricity to a USB charging port. Excess power is stored in the internal. The internal fan injects air back into the burn chamber which improves combustion and creating a cleaner, more efficient burn.

The CampStove also comes with an array of accessories such as a lamp, kettle and cooking grill.

Check out the BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE 2.  


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LUMINAID PACKLITE LANTERN – $49.99

The LUMINAID PACKLITE LANTERN is something I have never considered needing before. However, when I think back to every time my family and I have gone camping, one thing that inevitably happens is we arrive to the site late in the day and are trying to setup camp and cook dinner since we are all starving after a long drive. 

I have used trouble lights, oil lanterns or even our van’s headlights, but none of those are ideal. When I came across the LUMINAID I knew it needed to be on this list! 

The lantern is solar powered so you will need to do a bit of planning to ensure it has a charge to get you up and running. You can also charge via a USB port if solar is not an option, however.

Delivering up to 150 lumens of LED light at max power and can supply up to 50 hrs. of light in low power mode. 

My suggestion is to pick up 4-5 of these lanterns to illuminate your entire campsite. They are also waterproof with an IP67 rating so they can stay setup for the whole trip. 

Check out the LUMINAID PACKLITE LANTERN


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LIFESTRAW PERSONAL WATER FILTER – $25

The LIFESTRAW PERSONAL WATER FILTER is something you are going to want to have on hand if you are going to be away from a potable water source on your next camping or hiking adventure. 

The LIFESTRAW filter removes a minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters to 0.2 microns. It does this without the need for iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals. 

You can place this in any body of water like a river or stream and drink through the straw delivery clean, filtered water that will not harm you. A must if you are going to heading into the back county.

Check out the LIFESTRAW PERSONAL WATER FILTER 


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AKASO V50 PRO NATIVE 4K 30FPS 20MP WI-FI ACTION CAMERA WITH EIS TOUCH SCREEN – $189.99

Now we are into some real gadgets in the Gadget Syrup sense! You likely have not heard of AKASO before but think of them as a poor-man’s GoPro. And that is not a bad a thing! 

The AKASO V50 ACTION CAMERA records in up to 4K/30FPS, shoots 20MP stills and has WI-FI to transmit your content a smartphone for editing and sharing. 

This action cam also offers EIS or Electronic Image Stabilization to ensure your videos and images are stable and clear. There is also a 6-position gyroscope onboard to ensure the camera always knows which direction it is oriented. 

This camera bundle includes 2 x rechargeable 1100 mAh batteries, chargers, a remote-control wristband, and lots of other useful accessories. 

AKASO V50 Pro Action Cam
AKASO 14 in 1 Action Camera Accessory Kit

If you really want to step up your action camera game, you should also consider the AKASO 14 IN 1 ACTION CAMERA ACCESSORY KIT. This add-on kit only costs $24.99 CAD and includes useful add-ons such as the chest strap, mini tripod, and floating wrist strap. 

Check out the AKASO V50 PRO ACTION CAMERA 


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JBL FLIP 5 PORTABLE WATERPROOF WIRELESS BLUETOOTH SPEAKER – $149.98

The JBL FLIP 5 is one of the best rugged and waterproof speakers available and comes in a variety of assorted colours. Eleven to be exact.

Look at all those colours!

The 4800mAh battery provides up to 12 hours of playback time and the speaker is IPX7 rated, which means it can be submerged in up to 3 ft of water with no fear of damage. 

Its cylindrical design also makes the FLIP 5 easy to pack in your back, taking up minimal space.

The FLIP 5 also supports pairing with other “partyboost” speakers giving you the ability to create a stereo pair.

Check out the JBL FLIP 5 PORTABLE WATERPROOF WIRELESS BLUETOOTH SPEAKER


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JACKERY PORTABLE POWER STATION EXPLORER – From $259.99

A few years ago, the family and I went camping in Northern Ontario. The site we selected was a no-power site. We figured we would be fine without electricity and we could use the battery from our SUV to keep our cooler running overnight. Using the car each day to keep the battery charged for the next night would be fine. We woke up on day two and the battery to the SUV was dead and our food was warm.  

Sigh. We moved to a powered site immediately. 

Had we planned better we would have brought one of these with us. 

The JACKERY PORTABLE POWER STATION EXPLORER will let you power and charge your devices when you cannot get to a wall charger. You can power up to 4 devices at a time including smartphones, laptops, small heaters, and lights. 

The JACKERY PORTABLE POWER STATION EXPLORER also can be recharged via solar, but you will need to purchase the solar panel separately. 

Its biggest limitation is that it cannot power devices like a kettle because of the wattage requirements. 

Check out the JACKERY PORTABLE POWER STATION EXPLORER 


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VANKYO BURGER 101 3D PICO PROJECTOR – $276.99

The VANKYO BURGER 101 3D PICO PROJECTOR may be a bit of an unnecessary camping item, but it sure is a lot of fun. I have long been a user of the Motorola Z line of phone and Moto Mods. The mod I have used most has been the Incipio InstaShare Projector which snaps onto the back of the phone, turning it into a fully functional projector. 

The VANKYO BURGER 101 3D PICO PROJECTOR does not snap onto the phone, but instead connects via Wi-Fi or HDMI to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. 

This projector provides up to the equivalent of a 100” screen size at 1080p resolution and has a built-in 5200mAh battery which is more than enough to get through a movie or a few TV shows on Netflix. 

All of this comes in a device that weighs about the same as an iPhone 12. 

The projector also supports 3D playback if you have 3D glasses, which are not included. However, I would not buy this for its 3D capabilities, but more for its size and convenience.

Don’t forget a big white sheet and some rope to create a makeshift projector screen!

Check out the VANKYO BURGER 101 3D PICO PROJECTOR 


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That is it! There are hundreds of other fun and useful gadgets you could take camping with you, but these are some of my favourites. I hope you enjoyed and let me know in the comments what type of tech you take with you when venture to the great outdoors.


If you would like to see other guides like this, send me an email HERE.

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Check out the spec breakdown:

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

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



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


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


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


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


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Where can you buy the STORM 2?

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

Check out the STORM 2 on Kickstarter

Kickstarter Spotlight: DGRule – The Invisible Hub for MacBook

The DGRule dock is touting itself as the first ever invisible dock for the MacBook Pro 16″/15″/13″ and is designed to overcome the dongle life and the limitations brought on by having only Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro. Check it out!!

I haven’t done one of these in ages, but back when GadgetSyrup was new I would share some of the fun or neat campaigns I would find on Kick Starter. They were pretty popular posts and I really enjoyed sifting through and finding some really useful and interesting items on the platform. So after this long hiatus I thought it would be fun to bring these posts back. First up a USB dock for MacBooks. It may not sound super interesting on the face of it, but is actually really cool.

First a little back story. I spend a lot of time with laptop docks, like a disgusting amount of time. My day job is with computer peripherals company that sells dozens of different types of laptop docking stations, so I think it is safe to say I have “seen ’em all.”

What Is It?

The DGRule dock is touting itself as the first ever invisible dock for the MacBook Pro 16″/15″/13″ and is designed to overcome the dongle life and the limitations brought on by having only Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro.

2019 MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 Ports

Why Do I Like It?

I’m not a Mac users. I actually find the MacBook Pro laptops to be very boring in design and in some respects kind of ugly. Specifically the football field-sized track pad. However, when looking at the MacBook in a vacuum with the DGRule dock connected, they make a pretty near perfect pair.

The dock secures itself to the bottom side of the MacBook and stretches from the left to right edges. The dock connects itself on those edges by plugging directly into the Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The dock is very low profile and stays out of the way while also packing a lot of I/O connectivity. The DGRule has the following connections:

  • USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 with 100 watt power delivery (the image below from DGRule is incorrectly labelled as USB 3.1 Gen 1)
  • 3.5 mm audio
  • 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type A)
  • SD card reader
  • microSD card reader
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • Thunderbolt 3, 40 GB/s

Those ports pretty much have you covered for all modern or accessories from memory cards, USB devices and displays and in a very small package.

The dock also provides passive cooling for your MacBook since it raises the back-end of the laptop off your desk or lap keeping it from overheating and slowing down while you are running intensive tasks like running Final Cut of Adobe Premier.

Where Can You Buy It?

The DGRule is still active on Kickstarter as of the date of this post and has about 7 days to go, ending on Sat, January 18 2020 2:59 AM EST. They have crushed their funding goal of CAD $6,519 with a current total of CAD $373,789!!

BlitzWolf BW-FYE5 True Wireless Headphones Review

Last year I got in touch with a company that sells primarily in Banggood and they sent me a pair of their BW-ANC1 headphones which were a wired pair of wireless headphones featuring active noise cancelling. I was very impressed with them for the most part, so when offered their true wireless BW-FYE5 (they really know how to name a product!!) I jumped at the opportunity.

I am admittedly late to the true wireless headphone game. I have stuck to my Aukey EP-B61 neck buds for longer than I likely should have and when those are missing in action or dead, I resort to a wired pair of headphones I have had since I got my minion-yellow Nokia Lumia 1020, unless I am using a phone without a headphone jack. In that case, I suffer in silence waiting for the Aukeys to charge.

Last year I got in touch with a company that sells primarily in Banggood and they sent me a pair of their BW-ANC1 headphones which were a wired pair of wireless headphones featuring active noise cancelling. I was very impressed with them for the most part, so when offered their true wireless BW-FYE5 (they really know how to name a product!!) I jumped at the opportunity.

What’s In The Box?

Brad, you won’t believe what is in the box!

Blitzwolf’s packaging is pretty basic but a slight step ahead of some of the other budget companies in this space, such as Aukey. Inside the box were the following items.

BW-FYE5 BOM Shot
  • Blitzwolf BW-FYE5 headphones
  • Charge case
  • Large and small replacement ear tips (mediums come pre-installed)
  • Micro USB cable for charing
  • Manual

Nothing really exciting, but all the basics are there.

Battery Life 

Blitzwolf states that a single charge of the earbuds will last 2.5 to 3 hours of listening/talk time and the charging case that stores the buds when not in use add an extra 15 hours of battery life. So for the sake of keeping it simple, let’s say 18 hours of total battery life. I found this to be fairly accurate and I only have to charge up the case every few days depending on my use.

When the buds did run out, putting them back in the case for a quick charge was a pretty great experience compared to having to find a place to plug in my other set from Aukey into a USB cable. The charging case is very convenient when on the go.

Size and Fit

The size of the BW-FYE5 was awesome, they fit perfectly in the ear and for the most part, never came loose or lost their seal.

I didn’t suffer from any discomfort when wearing the earbuds for extended periods, which in some cases was for a full cycle of the battery. I did find that my ears would start to hurt where the buds would rest against my ear. So far, not the case with these earbuds for me.

The charging case is also far more compact than I was expecting which was great for putting them in any pocket. The dimensions of the case measures 6 cm X 3.7 cm X 2.8 cm.

Audio Quality

Since I am not listening to music in most cases I can’t say much about the quality of the BY-FYE5s for music. The small amount of music I did listen to sounded good. Bass was light but expected given the size of the device. Listening to audiobooks and podcasts were perfect. I didn’t have any complaints, which is a good thing.

IPX6 Water and Sweat Resistance

Water and sweat resistance is more or less table stakes these days with any wearable. In fact, one could argue that in 2019, heading into 2020, water resistance may not even be enough, full-on waterproofing may be the expectation. The BW-FYE5s, despite the low price point, are water-resistant, which is great for most users. Myself included.

Pairing Process and Connectivity Quality

One of the major complaints I have with Bluetooth devices, especially earbuds, today is the pairing process. It seems to be different for every manufacturer and is almost never intuitive. That mostly holds true for this set from Blitzwolf too.

After opening and charging the case and earbuds for the first time I opened the case, removed the right earbud and immediately it entered pairing. Great! After going through the standard pairing process on my Android device, I removed the second earbud and it automatically connected to the first bud and connected. So far… So good…

Where things got messy was when I wanted to use only one earbud. The right bud had no issue at all and would connect quickly and start working. However, when wanting to use the left earbud only I was given the impression the right earbud also needed to be removed from the charging case and act as a bridge for the left earbud. It was only after a few weeks of use that I decided to try again with only the left earbud. I removed it from the case, place it in my ear and for fun double-clicked the button. The earbud powered on and after about 30 seconds entered the pairing mode. The device showed on my phone as BW-FYE5 L, indicating left. Ok… paired and working.

When using the right bud first, the left bud will always connect to the right and begin to stream through both. Pretty seamless in most cases. When using the left bud first, adding the right caused the left to drop connection while it waited for the right to connect and hook up to the right as a bridge. If that was confusing, I’m sorry, but it is a messy process that the devices initiate depending on the order of connection. This may just be the way true wireless headphones have to work today, and maybe a future version won’t require this, but this messy connection process is less than enjoyable. I would like to see how Apple handles this thanks to the W1 chip in the airpods and modern macOS and iOS devices, but at this time I don’t have that luxury.

Overall: Should You Buy the Blitzwolf BW-FYE5 True Wireless Headphones?

For me, someone who has had issues finding headphones that have a good fit for my ears these headphones were perfect. However, others may not find this fit comfortable to use.

Outside of the potential fit-issues, the BW-FYE5 TWS are incredibly affordable and are available for just short of $50 CAD and should absolutely be considered if you’re looking for a truly wireless set of headphones. The odd connection process once solved is not really a major issue in the grand scheme of things when considering the other positive features found here.

You can purchase the Blitzwolf BW-FYE5 True Wireless Headphones from Banggood by clicking the link below!

OneUp: The First Truly Portable and Ultra Compact Life Preserver

You’re probably asking right now, “Why am I reading about a life preserver on a gadget blog?” That’s a great question! The reason, however, is a simple one. Some of the coolest tech and gadgets out there are not AI-powered robots, laptops or smartphones. Some of the coolest tech I have looked at since starting GadgetSyrup.com has been outdoor techs such as the Skycamp from iKamper, HURU’s all-weather backpack and the BioLite CampStove 2.

I recently came across another really interesting outdoor piece of tech; OneUp. Check it out

You’re probably asking right now, “Why am I reading about a life preserver on a gadget blog?” That’s a great question! The reason, however, is a simple one. Some of the coolest tech and gadgets out there are not AI-powered robots, laptops or smartphones. Some of the coolest tech I have looked at since starting GadgetSyrup.com has been outdoor techs such as the Skycamp from iKamper, HURU’s all-weather backpack and the BioLite CampStove 2.

I recently came across another really interesting outdoor piece of tech; OneUp. Check it out below.


What is OneUp?

OneUp is the billed as “World’s Most Compact Self-Activating Life Float” and comes in can the size of a Monster Energy drink.

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What Does OneUp Do?

It is fairly obvious based on the description, but OneUp, when thrown into the water, rapidly transforms into a full-sized inflated life preserver. The process is quick too, according to OneUp the device takes only 2 seconds to transform from its energy drink sized can into the life preserver.

OneUp is pretty impressive device too, given its size. As I mentioned, it is no bigger than an energy drink can and weighs less than one pound, but when inflated can hold up to 330 lbs or 150 kg.


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How Does It Work?

Using tech commonly used with aeronautical & naval safety and security, OneUp is equipped with a small salt pod and a CO2 sensor that is triggered by contact with water.

When the OneUp lands in the water, the salt pod instantly dissolves, revealing the CO2 inflation sensor and therefore, causing the rapid release of CO2 into the contained inflation device.

What makes OneUps life preserver even more fascinating is its reusability. Deflation and repack into its container takes a little over a minute and but you will need to replace the salt pod and CO2 cartridge after each use. 



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What Else?

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional deaths globally, with an estimated toll of 360, 000 lives or 42 deaths every hour. That is a staggering number.

Being equipped with a device, like that of the OneUp, water safety can be dramatically improved no matter where you are, be it the beach, the local swimming pool or when traveling by boat on a large body of water.

Saúl Arteta, CEO of OneUp, has said that the mission of “OneUp is to improve water safety forever while giving people an easy-to-use tool they can rely on during any water activity.”


Until now, life
preservers have been bulky and difficult to manage. With our new device, people can still enjoy
their time on the water and trust that if an issue arises, OneUp is there to save anyone in just
seconds.

— Saúl Arteta, CEO of OneUp

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Finally, a little fun behind the name. OneUp was selected as the name of this device as a throwback to classic video games of the ’80’s and ’90’s because extra lives were commonly referred to as “OneUps” And that is exactly what OneUp is; it is an “extra life” approach to aquatic safety. It is nice to see a company using a little nostalgic fun with their naming conventions.


Where to Buy OneUp?

Early-bird pricing is available today, April 4th, on Indiegogo for $49. OneUp plans to ship their life-saving device sometime this summer.

For more information head over to OneUpSaves.com.


What are your thoughts on the OneUp? Is it a game-changer for you? Personally, for myself, a father of 3 small children, I absolutely plan to purchase a few of these to keep on hand. You never know what is going to happen when out on open water. In a perfect world, you never need to use a device like OneUp, but I would rather have it on hand and not use it, then need it and not have it.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Moto Mods – “Modify Your Smartphone”

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

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


What Are Moto Mods?

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


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Meet The Mods

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

Stay tuned for the full review shortly!

HURU All-Weather Backpack Preview

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

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

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

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

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


What is HURU?

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

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



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

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

HURU Features Gallery


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

— Olg Vlasenko – Founder of HURU

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Why I Like The HURU Backpack

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

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

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

Long story short. This backpack is built to last!


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Check Out The HURU in Action


Where Can I Get My Own HURU?

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

HURU ON KICKSTARTER

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


Summer 2017 Essential Travel Camping Tech

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

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


UE WONDERBOOM Super Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker



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

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

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

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

Click the link below to pick one up now!

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SITPACK portable seat

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



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


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

The SITPACK is currently avaiable for $60 USD


BioLite CampStove 2

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

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

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




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

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


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Anker PowerCore+ 20100

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

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

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

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

You can pick it up on Amazon down below.

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AirSelfie

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

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


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

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


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

Anything you would add to the list?

Let me know below!


Pixie: A Better Bluetooth Tracker?

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

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

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

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


What is the Pixie

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

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


What’s in the Box

The kit Pixie sent me contained the following:

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

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


How does it work?

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

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

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

Pixie uses a different approach. 

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

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

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


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Experience

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

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

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

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


Need to Know

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

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


Cost and Where to Buy

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

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

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


Should You Buy This?

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

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

Upgrade Your Tent with Skycamp from iKamper

Take your camping to the next level! Check out the Skycamp rooftop tent from iKamper.

What is Skycamp?

The Skycamp, from iKamper, is a unique take on the prototypical tent. Rather than dealing with a mess of poles, pegs and bags way to small for repacking the Skycamp is a collapsable room that mounts to the roof rack of most vehicles.

It is not just a tent on your roof either. Every Skycamp comes equipped with a kingsize bed which lies on the hard plastic floor (no more tree roots!)

Why do you want this?

Judging by the video above, the Skycamp is incredibly easy to set up. According to the iKamper, it should take less than one minute. For me, this is a major selling feature. Our current tent is a behemoth, requires its rolling suitcase and takes a very long time to setup and tear down.

The Skycamp, by nature of its design, is always off the ground. Keeping you dry from water seeping in from the bottom seems, while also keeping you up and away from unwanted four-legged visitors.

The biggest reason I would buy the Skycamp is the freedom it offers. With this, you can camp anywhere, at any time. It makes road tripping far easier than having to lug, setup, and tear down a tent. Can’t find a campground while on a long road trip? No problem, find a rest area or service center and you’re set.

Where can you buy it?

Pre-orders are currently available at iKamper.com for $2500, which is $900 off the price the Skycamp will eventually retail at.

You can also purchase via Kickstarter as well for another 15 days.


Overall, the cost of the Skycamp will be prohibitive to most, but if you’re thinking of something like a popup trailer or a very easy to use camping solution I think the Skycamp is worth considering.

HERE WeGo Review

It has been a long journey (pun intended) but HERE WeGo may be the best all around mapping solution available today. Yes, yes, “Google Maps” I hear you yelling – but hear me out…

Once upon a time a company you may have heard of, Nokia, was a juggernaut in the mobile phone market. During their reign atop the phone industry they created one of the first and best mobile mapping solutions. That application was know as HERE maps and worked with Nokia’s Symbian operating system.

At the time of the last update (2012) HERE Maps on Symbian offered everything from turn-by-turn directions for driving or walking, live traffic visualization, offline map support and “city lens” augmented reality. For its time, it was jam-packed with extremely useful features.

Fast forward 5 years, throw in the end of Symbian, Microsoft buying Nokia (but not the Maps part); then shuttering Nokia, HERE maps being bought by a conglomerate of German auto makers, and an entry into iOS and Android operating systems and we are left with a re-branded and fully loaded HERE WeGo mapping solution.

As mentioned, HERE WeGo (HERE) is available on Android and iOS. HERE Maps still lives on in a way for those running Windows Phone 8.1, as well as in Windows 10 thanks to Microsoft licencing HERE mapping data for their own Windows Maps app. You can also use HERE via the web at https://wego.here.com

Most of this review will focus on HERE for Android, but the experience is very much the same on iOS.


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What does HERE offer?

  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Online or Offline mode
  • Real-time traffic data (where available)
  • Public transport, walking and bicycle navigation
  • Taxi hailing (limited availability)
  • Destination collections with current location sharing/saving
  • Indoor venue maps
  • Nearby point-of-interest recommendations

HERE WeGo was recently renamed from the aforementioned HERE Maps since it was felt that ‘HERE Maps’ was too generic of a name, causing it the application to be lumped in with “other, lesser apps”. The new name is designed to place the focus on what people really want from an app like HERE, which is “getting to places”. 

Using HERE is very easy and the app is overall very intuitive. It is feature packed and those features are very easy to access. One of the primary gripes I have with Google Maps is it does so many things that navigating the app and understanding some of those features can become overwhelming.

 Left to right - Maps, Drive, Collections
Left to right – Maps, Drive, Collections

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Accessing the side menu via the hamburger button reveals some top level settings and options. Much like Google Maps, users can select Map (default), Drive and Collections (more on collections later). 

You will also be able to toggle the extremely useful offline mode that HERE has always offered.

Offline mode allows you to download maps for entire countries or specific regions such provinces and states. There is some loss of function with offline mode. You can still search for addresses and some POI’s, as well as turn by turn navigation. However, searching using generic search terms, live traffic and other connected only options such as venue search will not function the same way as when online. To download all available HERE maps will take up a total of 10GB of space on your device.

The UI, as you can see in the previous images, is fairly basic, which is welcomed. Many mapping options available on Android, especially those offering offline navigation are over saturated with UI elements that can make the application challenging to use. This is not the case here.

Driving directions are clear and concise and HERE also offers drivers parking options near your destination, then will automatically switch to walking directions from the parking spot to the final destination. Another UI element I really like when using HERE is the ability to swipe left on route options to highlight the alternative routes available for your journey.

Possibly one of my favourite features of HERE is the aforementioned Collections function. Much like save places in Google Maps, users can save places to their favourites. With HERE you can sort them into customizable collections making it easy ti plan out a trip a head of time, or add places you encounter and want to circle back to. I have used this for many trips including time spent last year in Florida, Prince Edward County and Mikasew Provincial Park.

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Here also has a very active Beta program for those looking to provide feedback and be on the bleeding edge of what HERE has to offer. On Android, you can visit the app page in the Play store, scroll the end of the listing and add yourself to the beta stream. 

Overall, HERE WeGo does not offer as many features as the current King of the Hill, Google Maps, but it overall I feel that this application offer a more pure and simple mapping application. The implementation of “real” offline maps (sorry Google, you did it wrong) also adds the appeal for those who may want to avoid chewing through their data while travelling abroad or simply travelling locally with heavy map use.

You can download HERE WeGo from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store

BioLite CampeStove 2

Remember when camping involved packing up the car with a tent, sleeping bags, matches, clothes, food and bug spray?

 

Forget all of that. We can’t camp today unless we have smart devices and power to keep them charged! The BioLite CampStove 2 is here to meet that need. Check it out!

Remember when camping involved packing up the car with a tent, sleeping bags, matches, clothes, food and bug spray?

Well; those days are over. It is time to come to terms with the new way of camping which involves several smart devices, battery packs and things of the like. I have accepted this reality and stress before a camping trip about things like; Do I bring one portable battery or two? Should I bring a second lightning cable? Does the tablet have enough movies and shows for the kids? 

Welcome to the future! Isn’t it great!

The CampStove 2 from BioLite is something I am seriously considering for this year’s camping outings. I am always tweaking the packing list for each years camping, and something like this is certainly going to be beneficial for my family and me.



What is it?

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

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

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

Click here to check out all compatible BioLite add-ons

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


Check out the CampStove 2 promo video from BioLite.


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


What do you think? Is the CampStove 2 something you would consider bringing on your next camping adventure?

Do you miss the old days of roughing it in the woods? Or have you embraced this new way of camping?

Must Have Travel Tech 2016

It’s that time of year where you are likely going to be traveling a bit more than usual with Thanksgiving in the USA followed closely by Christmas. For all that time spent on the go this holiday season, check out this list of must have travel tech to make your trip a little easier.


I wrote earlier this year that my family and I will be driving, over the course of three days, to Florida. It is going to be a long trek and I’m sure by the end of the drive we will all want to vegetate at the rental house for a few days. Despite how long the drive is, and how tiring it will be, this is what we’ve signed up for. To make that trip a little easier, packing the right tech can make all the difference. Here are a few essential items for travelling this year. 


StarTech.com AP150WN1X1U Travel Router

Most hotels nowadays have wi-fi included, but there are still a surprising number that have the wired only Ethernet in the room. In some cases, that may be fine, as long as you have the right dongle in your bag and are the only one wanting to use the blazing fast hotel internet. However, in most cases, you want to get online with your phone, tablet or as is the case with my family, connect more than one device to the internet during your stay.

The solution to this is a fairly simple one. A pocket-sized travel wireless router.

The AP150WN1X1U portable wireless N router from StarTech.com allows you to turn any wired connection into a wireless hot-spot. It is powered off of any 5 volt USB connection, such as your laptop or even the back USB “service port” on most TVs.

The AP150WN1X1U supports three different modes of operation; Access Point, Router and Repeater making it a pretty versatile device that can be quickly setup via its web interface. When not in use the compact size tucks away nicely in your bag or pocket.

Get the StarTech.com AP150WN1X1U Travel Router at Amazon:

Canada

USA


Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C

I never thought I would use a device such as this next one as often as I do, but the reality is, for a power user such as myself, a portable high capacity battery pack is a must on any trip these days.

The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 with USB-C is my personal favourite. I tote either a Nexus 6P or a OnePlus 3 as my daily driver on the phone side, so the USB-C port is a wonderful thing on this battery. It also contains 2 x USB-A ports for older legacy USB devices, or USB-A to USB-C cables. Both of which are handy for charging my wife’s iPad Mini 2 or the kids older iPad Mini at the same time.

The battery is 20100mAH and all USB ports provide 5v/2.4amps of power which is actually enough to charge the new USB-C based MacBook.

Anker also includes their rapid charge tech as well ensuring that your devices charge at max speed without causing any damage to them. 

Inside the box you will find the battery, a case, a USB A-C and USB A-micro B cable.

Get the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 at Amazon:

Canada

USA


Google Chromecast

Recently covered in the GadgetSyrup Geek Gift Guide, the Chromecast is a very handy travel companion if you are on the road with only your mobile devices (phones, iPads, tablets, etc).

Simply connect it to the HDMI port on the back of the TV in the hotel room, switch the input and away you go. From your phone, tablet or some Windows based laptops you can cast your YouTube or Netflix videos to the TV. Thus avoiding suffering through channel surfing on the hotels basic cable and avoiding the high cost of renting movies through the hotels clunky video rental interface.

Get the Google Chromecast from Google:

Canada

USA


TrackR Bravo or Tile Mate

Ok, you spent the night in a hotel, the kids threw stuff everywhere, you’re trying to get packed up and get back on the road for the next lag of your trip and you can’t find your keys or some other vital item to get going. Well, had you prepared yourself by using a Bluetooth tracker such as the TrackR Bravo or Tile Mate you would have already found that item and been on the road.

Pick up either the TrackR or the Tile, attach it to your keys, bags, kids or pets and with a quick tap from within their respective iOS or Android apps and you will be able to track down your item quickly by sounding their alarms. Another really cool feature I like with my Tile, is if my smartphone is hiding somewhere, a quick press of the button on the Tile will activate the alarm on the phone. You don;t realize how handy this is until you us it. Trust me.

Get the TrackeR:

Canada

USA

Get the Tile Mate from Amazon:

Canada

USA


TFY Universal Headrest Mount

Now that you have found your keys and phone, you’re loaded in the car and the kids want to watch a movie. If you’re fortunate enough you bought a van for this trip that packs a Blu-Ray, DVD player, 2 screens and Bluetooth headphones and this is an easy fix. However, lets say you didn’t buy that van, or still have one rear-facing car seat and child that cannot see the roof mounted screens. No worries, you’re covered there too!

The TFY Universal Headrest Mount wraps around nearly any headrest in the vehicle and using its two adjustable clamps will fit any tablet style device from 7″ through 11″. I’ve used this with a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and it works like a charm. The clamp is strong enough that,  despite the Surface Pro being a relatively heavy device compared to an iPad Mini, it will not move of fall down while on the road.

Get the TFY Universal Headrest Mount from Amazon:

Canada

USA


Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Canceling Hi-Fi Headphones

Regardless of whether you are travelling alone or with the family, sometimes you just need to block out the noise and focus on listening to a book, podcast or music. 

For this, the Plantronics BackBeat Pros make a great addition to your travel tech arsenal. Sure, there are the Bose QuietComfort 35s, but at half the price the Plantronics BackBeats are a great mix of price and performance. The feature active noise cancellation, a built in mic should you need to take a call while listening, sync with multiple device, offer decent sound and up to 24 hrs of battery life.

Get the BackBeat PRO from Amazon:

Canada

USA


Neewer® Camera Handle Pistol Grip

This item, and the next, have made a world of difference in the quality of smartphone videos I have taken recently. The way you hold your phone to take a video doesn’t translate into a very steady video most times since it is not a natural way to hold something. But attaching this to your phone and holding the grip you will see a massive improvement in the stability of your videos and pictures. Since it uses a standard tripod mount thread, you can also use this with any tripod mountable camera.

Very handy and highly recommended.

Get the Neewer Pistol Grip from Amazon:

Canada

USA


Mudder Universal Smartphone Adapter Mount

In conjunction with the pistol grip, you will need something to clamp your phone onto that can also mount to the tripod style mount of the grip. The Mudder adapter can be mounted vertically or horizontally to the Neewer grip. 

There really is not a lot to say about the Mudder. It works well with the Neewer grip, holds the phone securely. If you tend to shoot a lot of video with your phone, like most people do, the combo of the Neewer Grip and Mudder Mount will be well worth it!

Get the Mudder Smartphone Mount from Amazon:

 

Canada

USA


That about wraps it up for this one. There are countless other things that could have been on this list but these were a few of my must haves for when on the go.

Are there any essential travel tech items that you take with you on every trip? Let me know in the comments below!

Las Vegas Testing Kinetic Tiles That Use Your Steps To Power Street Lights

Las Vegas and EnGoPlanet are using kinetic tiles to power street lamps and more using your foot power. 

We are at the point on this planet where we all need to get serious about where our energy comes from and how we use it. There are companies all over the world trying to solve our energy woes, but often their efforts do not trickle down to the average person.

How can you be more aware and see the impact of these new and fresh ideas on how we can save energy and generate it different ways? This new trial being run in Las Vegas may be one of those ways that will enable you to see how you can have an impact.

A company by the name of EnGoPlanet is trialing their tech in Las Vegas that will capture the kinetic energy generated by walking on the sidewalk and using that energy to power things like street lamps. Vegas is a great place for this as well, given that you are guaranteed to have a significant volume of foot traffic at nearly all hours of the day.

 EnGoPlanet Kinetic Tiles
EnGoPlanet Kinetic Tiles

Clean and free energy is all around us. Urban cities have to build the smart infrastructures of tomorrow that will be able to harvest all that energy. This project is small, but a very important step in that direction

— Petar Mirovic, CEO of EnGoPLANET

The kinetic tiles lining the sidewalk are also backed up by solar power to provide some degree of redundancy or backup should foot traffic be lower at a particular time of day or year.

The panels can generate 4-8 watts of power that will be stored in a system of batteries that can be used to power anything from street lamps and public Wi-Fi hot-spots.

What do you think? Will this type of energy production be a productive player in the future of power generation? I think it will when you look at the sheer volume of foot traffic in the busier cities throughout the world.

Easily turn your bicycle into an electric bike with the “electron”

We all want to ride our bikes to work, but many do not. Not because we are lazy and don’t want to put forth the effort, but because upon arrival you do not want to be hot sweaty and exhausted having to start your work day. The Electron bike is part of a growing segment of e-bike attachments, but the difference here, is that this one is actually well made and extremely easy to install and use.

Many of us today are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of riding a bicycle to work, or for getting around town, the problem for most is not that we are too lazy and don’t want to put forth the effort. The issue, I feel, is that the majority of us do not want to arrive at work, or wherever your destination may be, tired and sweaty, then having to start your work day.

I used to ride to work a few times a week. The trip was 11 km to the office, and by the time I arrived, I was hot sweaty, and the last thing I wanted to do was put on my “business” clothes and sit down at my desk. 

This is where a product like the Electron Wheel could come in extremely handy.

So, what is it?

The Electron Wheel is a nearly universal electric wheel that replaces the 

The Electron has 250-watt motor with a maximum speed of 20 mph or 32 km for us Canadians. A 10.7 Ah lithium-ion battery that provides a range of up to 30 miles (48 km). The battery is also sporting the ability to quickly recharge in about 2 hours with the optional 4-watt quick charger.

How does it work?

The Electron is an app-connected device that you monitor and control via the Android or iOS app available from electron using a Bluetooth 4.0 LE connection. The motor is pedal assisted meaning the more work you put into pedaling, the greater your range and speed should be.

Installation is claimed only to take about 30 seconds as well, which is much better than most other electric bicycle conversions. This installation includes removal of your old front wheel followed by installing the Electron wheel and pedal assist sensor. So a bit more than 30 seconds. Either way, though, it is a seemingly easy conversion.

The Electron comes in especially handy in hilly areas. Have a look at the video below and watch how effortlessly the Electron propels the ride through the streets of San Francisco.

The Electron wheel comes in two sizes, a 26″ and 28″ tire size.

It can be purchased from Electron directly for $799, plus an additional $85 if you which to add the quick charger add on.

Another New Tile! The “Tile Mate”

The Tile family of Bluetooth trackers continues to grow, by going smaller! Check out the Tile Mate.

A few months back Tile updated their offerings with the Tile Slim, which was a vast improvement over the original Tile, but not meant to entirely replace its predecessor.

The Tile Slim was meant to be placed in a wallet, stuck to a tablet/laptop, or somewhere that you wanted a thin discrete way to track belongings. The Slim was not able to be (easily) used with car keys, since it lacked the keying hole.

Fast forward to October and we now have the “Tile Mate”.

The Mate is a replacement for the original Tile, coming in at 25% smaller, while packing all the same features. Including the key ring hole.

The Tile Mate is also part of the reTile program, which allows you to easily replace your tile when the battery runs out. Tile generally says a Tile should last about 1 year, but your mileage may vary.

The Tile Mate can be purchased directly from the Tile website for $25 each or $70 for a 4-pack.

 Check out my review of the original Tile while you are here!
Check out my review of the original Tile while you are here!

WipeBook: The “last notebook that you [will] ever buy”

The last notebook you may ever buy. Meet the Wipebook.

I am always in search of something to either increase my productivity or reduce waste in my day to day.

Recently I discovered the Wipebook. At first glance the Wipebook looks like any other spiral bound notebook. However, it is much more than that.

Wipebook states that their product may be the “last notebook that you ever buy.” Why, you ask…

The Wipebook brings together the benefits of;

  • a pencil, being a non-permanent way of taking notes, but not always easy to completley erase.
  • a pen, offering a better writing experience than a pencil
  • a notebook, since it is portable and can move with you form place to place.
  • a whiteboard, giving you a great non-permanent way of jotting down ideas, but is usually stuck to a wall in a meeting room.

It is a rather simple, yet completely practical and useful idea.

The Wipebook, and new improved Wipebook Pro can be used with semi-permanent markers such as the Staedtler Lumocolor Correctable dry erase markers. Wipebook offers them for $3.99. You can also use them with whiteboard makers as well.

Based on content found on Wipebook’s site, the semi-permanent maker route is a better way to go. Once applied, the notes tend to not smear or rub off unless you are actually attacking them with an eraser. Going the whiteboard maker route, you will find that your notes wipe off with little to no effort with your fingers or hand.

That is not say the the dry erase whiteboard markers don’t offer their benefits. Let’s say your in a brainstorming during a small meeting, you want to get the benefits of the whiteboard, but would rather confine yourself to the Wipebook. Since the dry erase comes off with ease, you can quickly change or iterate on your ideas as you go.

The Wipebook really offers the best of both worlds.

There is a small caveat, but really nothing you should be concerned with. It is a reusable product, but since you are using a semi-permanent marker, leaving the ink on the paper for too long can lead to some difficulty when removing the ink.

Here is a short video from Wipebook’s YouTube channel displaying the effects of leaving the ink on for extended periods.

In Canada, the Wipebook, Wipebook Pro and recommended accessories here and at Staples.

What do you think about the Wipebook? Something you could adopt? If not, what do you use for note taking when you’re PC is not an option?

Must Have: Narrative Clip 2

Don’t miss out on the “authentic” in between moments in life. The Narrative Clip 2 is a must have for your next vacation or to simply capture the day to day moments that matter.

This December my wife and I have decided we’re going to pack up the kids two days after Christmas and make the long (sooo long) trek to Florida for a week at Disney World and Universal Studios.

We could fly, sure, however, with 2 adults and 3 kids on the ticket, that is a pretty steep price tag at that time of year. So we have decided to drive all the way down. According to Google Maps the journey should take about 19 hrs. We have decided to slit it up over the course of three days. 

Day 1 we will aim for Lexington, KY. Day 2 our target will be Macon, GA and on the third day, we we hope to roll into Orlando in the early afternoon. On paper, seems like a breeze, in reality, I’m sure it will be less than enjoyable, but we are going to make the best out of it and use the drive as a sort of mini-vacation along the way.

So with the particulars of hotels, Air B&B’s and theme park tickets out of the way I need to start thinking about what tech will be best suited for a trip such as this. Devices like tablets, iPads, waterproof cameras, battery packs and two-way radios are givens. However, one thing I reflect on after each vacation (long or short) is whether or not I took enough pictures or video. Although the answer is usually yes, I still fell like I should have taken more or that I missed a several key things.

I feel a camera like a GoPro is too obtrusive to wear all day while on the go. While devices like Sony’s handheld action cams are too awkward to use while juggling other gear and wrangling children.

Not too long ago while looking through posts on one of my favourite blogs, ‘Becoming Nomad‘ by Mike Elgan, I saw in his gear section that he uses a camera called the ‘Narrative Clip 2’. Intrigued, I looked into the camera further and made note of how it would be perfect for our next trip to Disney (originally not planned until at least 2020). So, now that I am in tech planning mode for this trip three years ahead of schedule, I figured I should give the Narrative Clip 2 a closer look prior to buying.

What is the Narrative Clip 2?

As mentioned, it is a wearable camera that can clip onto your shirt or bag, or hang around your neck using a lanyard. The Narrative Clip 2 packs the follow specs:

  • 8.0 MP / 1080p Video (JPEG / MP4)
  • f/2.2 aperture
  • 86.5 degree field of view
  • 8GB internal storage
  • Wireless 
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • GPS 
  • USB 2.0

What does all that mean? Well according to Narrative that will net you about 4000 images or 80 minutes of video before running out of storage.

The Narrative can be affixed to your clothing via the standard hook-style clip, a magnetic clip or via a lanyard should you not want to clip it right onto your clothing.

How does the Narrative Clip 2 work?

The Narrative is a very simple device to use by all appearances. By default the Narrative takes a picture every 30 seconds, but can be adjusted to take shots at as low as 10 second or as high as 2 minute intervals. Another great feature is the manual mode available on the Clip, and that allows you to double tap the front of the camera to take a picture or a video (10-30 seconds in length). All of these features can be controlled via the Narrative app which is available on both Android or iOS devices. From a distance the Narrative app looks like a clean and simple application, however may be a bit clunky to use. 

 Narrative App on Android
Narrative App on Android

 Narrative App on Android
Narrative App on Android

What to expect from the Narrative Clip?

Do not expect to get printable-framable-hang on the wall type images from the Clip 2. Those moments are for your DSLR or other smartphone camera. The Clip 2 is for capturing the authentic in between moments when those devices are not in your hand. Narrative refers to them as “authentic” moments. 

The image and video quality from Narrative looks to be respectable but due to the f/2.2 sensor and lack of optical image stabilization for video images may suffer in some scenarios and videos may be a bit shaky. Again though, this is not the point of the Narrative Clip 2. It is there to capture the small, “authentic”, otherwise missed moments.

The Clip has no buttons. Turning it off is as simple as placing it face down on a flat surface or putting in your pocket.

The Clip also has a useful time-lapse feature that automatically engages when it is place on a flat surface such as a desk or bookcase. 

Other Thoughts

There are some privacy concerns to consider as with a device like the Narrative Clip 2. Ever since device like Google Glass were released. These types of device, despite the ever growing societal acceptance, still carry a significant stigma along with them. So be mindful of the fact your wearing a recording device while using a public restroom or other sensitive areas.

The Narrative Clip two retails on Narrative’s site for $199 USD. However, at the time of this post the Clip 2 is out of stock.

 Available in Piano Black, Arctic White and Narrative Red
Available in Piano Black, Arctic White and Narrative Red

Review: MPOW Flamingo (Elk) Bluetooth 4.1 Headset

Another day – Another MPOW Product – Take a look at the MPOW Flamingo Bluetooth 4.1 headset

What is it?

MPOW has continued to send along some review samples. Next up is the MPOW Flamingo (Elk) Bluetooth 4.1 Headset.

What’s in the box?

Inside the box you presented with:

     The headset (obviously), with medium sized ear tips installed.

A user guide, which outlines the procedure for pairing

A micro USB cable for charging

Small and Large replacement ear tips

Packaging quality is slightly more minimal than recent MPOW products I have seen, but the packaging is small, with little waste, and outlines the specs of the device at a high level. You can’t really ask for more and it is nice to see a company continue to use little waste with their packaging.

One thing of note, which as of this review, MPOW has yet to clarify, the listing of this product is the “MPOW Flamingo”. However, the package lists them as the “MPOW Elk”. I reached out for clarification, but have yet to hear back. When searching the MPOW Flamingo on Amazon.com a product that is similar to the popular JayBird design is all that is found, while MPOW Elk yields no results.

Why would you want it?

Ditch the wires and go wireless for running, exercising or any other activity.

Target audience?

With the secure ear hook design, this is targeted mostly towards runners or others who are constantly moving. The hooks will aide in keeping them in place and not falling out when jostled. Their light weight will also lend itself well to physical activities.

Specs

  • BT 4.1 LE
  • Advanced CSR chip with A2DP tech to deliver higher quality sound
  • Sound Enhance Tech to ensure or strong signal no matter where on your body your connected device is. Designed to reduce signal droppage found on most Bluetooth headsets
  • Ear hooks, to keep a snug and secure fit no matter what the activity.
  • Built in mic on right ear piece to enable voice calls
  • Extended battery life – 7 hrs talk, 6 hrs music, and 160 hrs standby time.

Build Quality


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Extremely lightweight, which has its benefits, but overall fit and finish feels cheap and fragile compared to several other MPOW offerings.

Buttons were tactile and responsive.

Performance/Testing/Experience Results

Overall audio quality was great with no issues and voice callers reported little distortion compared to using the phone alone without the headset. Wind stoppage was not the greatest however.

Battery life is in line with what MPOW states, I found that audio playback was in the 5 hr range. Your mileage will vary.

Length of the wire connecting the ear pieces, as is the case with almost all Bluetooth headsets is too long and was consistently getting pulled or caught when in use. However, the snug fit provided by the ear hooks stopped them from being torn from my ears. Something I have experienced with ever Bluetooth headset I have used to date.

As mentioned the buttons were tactile and responsive, however the placement of the main control button, for calls and audio is poorly placed. When pressing with a single finger you are forced to press the ear tip further into your ear. Something which was not very comfortable. A minor thing, but something to be aware of, especially trying to pause music or answer a call while on a run.

Conclusion

Despite the less than desirable build quality, the lightweight design and the addition of proper ear hooks, vs “fins” found on many other designs, I was very pleased with this headset and would recommend it as an affordable option for the budget minded person seeking an active type design. In future versions I would like to see some adjust-ability added to the ear hooks and a slightly more sturdy housing on the ear pieces. It would also be useful, given the target audience, to include the ability to adjust the length of the wire used, which would provide an even more snug fit when being used.

The MPOW Flamingo/Elk headset can be found on Amazon.

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Review: MPOW Clip on Lens 3 pack “MLens V1”

MPow has a new version of their popular clip on smartphone lenses. MobileCanuck went hands on with them. Have a read to find out the results!

Disclaimer: MPOW contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing some of their products. The first product offered was the MPOW Clip on Lens 3 pack “MLens V1”.

With that out of the way, what is the MPOW Clip on Lens 3 pack “MLens V1”?

Well as the title alludes to, it is a pack of three different type of clip on lenses for your smartphone (or tablet, if you’re one of ‘those’ people). The three lens types offer the following.

  • Wide angle at 0.36X
  • Macro at 20X
  • Fisheye

The lenses are made of a 4 element glass construction and have received a sizable upgrade from their original versions.

What’s in the box?

 It's just camera lenses, Brad. Calm down...
It’s just camera lenses, Brad. Calm down…

The packaging from MPOW gets better each time I see what of their products. They have come a long way from their brown-box/no label days. 
 

 MPow has come a long way with their packaging and design.
MPow has come a long way with their packaging and design.

 Package contents clearly called out on base of package.
Package contents clearly called out on base of package.

Upon opening the box you are met with an instruction card with a brief explanation of each lens and how to obtain the best experience with their use. Next you find the lenses, enclosed in a hard plastic travel case. This is an excellent inclusion, as I was constantly misplacing my older lenses since they would be tossed into a bag with several other accessories and peripherals.

The overall design of the lenses is much like several others found on the market, and for good reason. This design works – it’s that simple. 

The large clip style makes installation on any phone I tried quick and simple.

 From left to right: Macro, Wide-Angle, Fisheye
From left to right: Macro, Wide-Angle, Fisheye

Product Quality

The fit and finish of these lenses are of a fairly decent quality. Older versions of the lenses would twist and bind when leveraged and always felt like they would break if too much pressure was applied. That is not the case here, partially due to design and partially the materials used I felt the quality of the lenses was enough to handle the wear and tear from average use.

Image Quality

The image quality was found to be respectable. However I found two moderate issues with them.

  1. The wide angle lens does add a bit of a fisheye effect, which was less than desirable.
  2. The macro lens comes with a stand-off or riser which allows you to place the riser directly against the object you are shooting. However, depending on your lighting conditions a sort of light shining through water effect can be seen in the output.

 Wide angle shot, using the OnePlus 3.
Wide angle shot, using the OnePlus 3.

 Lookin' good Cap! Fisheye shot with the OnePlus 3
Lookin’ good Cap! Fisheye shot with the OnePlus 3

Conclusion

Overall, the Mpow MLENS V1 is a respectable product but for most it may be too niche or impractical to use. Personally, I find that I will only pull lenses such as these out on rare occasions where the use would make sense. I would be unlikely to use these with any degree of regularity during the day to day or even when on a trip. With all that said however, I would certainly recommend someone who enjoys smartphone photography pick up a package of these lenses to keep in their arsenal of accessories when on the go.

What do you think? Are these too niche to be practical or is it something every smartphone photographer should be carrying? Sound off below!

“Tile” goes “Slim”

The Tile family is growing, and shrinking, with the introduction of “Tile Slim”.

In June I picked up the “Tile” a small BlueTooth enable tracking device that you pair with your smart phone to keep track of things like your keys, wallet, dog…kids. You know, those things that always seem to evade you when you’re in a rush to get out the door and get on with the day.

I reviewed the “Tile” here on MobileCanuck and was impressed with its functionality

Read: “Tile” helps you find the things when you need them the most.

My biggest gripe with the original Tile was its size. Not its height and width, but its thickness of 5.3mm. When on my keys, bag or my kids (kidding, almost I never lose my kids) that size is not an issue, but putting in my wallet was not a desirable use of the device. I compared it to another popular tracking device, the TrackR, which is exceptionally thin and appeared to have greater versatility as a result.

Now, Tile has released a new version of the Tile called Tile Slim which is 2.4mm thin (about the thickness of two credit cards). 

The Slim packs all the same features of the original (minus the key ring hole) and also adds a few, such as custom ring tones and optional adhesive strips to attach it to your laptop or tablet. The adhesives are priced at $5 USD for a 3 pack.

The Tile Slim is currently available on Tile’s website for $30 USD each, or $100 USD for a pack of 4.

Check out the Tile Slim.

Must Have: Anker PowerHouse

Meet the Anker PowerHouse. This 120,000mAh portable battery will keep you up and running while going off the grid!

Camping season is winding down as Labour Day approaches I am starting to revisit my checklist of the items that we bring along with each camping or cottage trip. As I review this list and prepare for the final one or two outings I evaluate what is on the list, remove some of the unnecessary items, and more importantly, I look at what should be on the list for next year.

Heading into next year I think my list is in pretty good shape having added a trouble light and a short length of hose to use at campsites that have dedicated water. However, I think I have found another must have. Meet the “PowerHouse” from the ever popular battery maker, Anker. 

Not too long ago I reviewed the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 portable USB-C/A power pack. It actually was the first review I posted here on Mobile Canuck. I am big fan of Anker and have amassed a small collection of their devices over the last year or so.

So what is the Anker PowerHouse?

It is a 400wh/120,000mAh portable battery containing the following ports:

  • 12V “cigarette” lighter car socket
  • 4 x USB ports with Anker’s “PowerIQ” technology (more on that HERE)
  • Standard North American AC outlet

To put the size of the PowerHouse’s battery into perspective. The OnePlus 3, my current daily driver, has a 3,000mAh batter. Theoretically, one could charge a phone battery of that capacity 40 times. Actually, that is exactly what Anker tells you on the product page for the PowerHouse;

  • 40 phone recharges
  • 15 laptop recharges
  • 7+ hours of power for a “mini fridge”
  •  100+ hours of lighting from a 15V light

Unfortunately, due to power loss from batteries, cables, devices, etc. when charging from a source such as this, getting full use of the 120,000mAh battery will not be possible.

Recharging the PowerHouse is done through the AC outlet or through an optional solar charger

The build quality of the PowerHouse appears to be of a premium quality thanks to its aluminum casing and soft-touch handle. The PowerHouse also is shock-resistant and “impact-tested” which is important given the use of the device is for going “off-grid”. The last thing you want is to drop this while camping and be without power for the rest of your adventure. 

That premium build doesn’t mean an excessively large device however. The PowerHouse weighs in at 9.3 pounds and is 7.9×6.5×5.7 inches in size.

The price of the PowerHouse may be a factor that holds you back from purchasing. The listed price currently sits at $499.99 USD or $656.00 CAD(as of Sept 1, 2016). I have seen it as low as $399.99 and hope as time goes on it gets back to that or lower.

Also, for those like myself, outside the USA, the device is currently not available. An Anker rep told me last week that the PowerHouse is not currently available anywhere except for their own site and is limited to USA only at this time. Amazon.com will not stock and ship the device due to the size of the battery. He did however suggest that I email their support team and request shipment to Canada, as it may be possible in some cases. 

Check the Anker PowerHouse out HERE

Mpow Magneto Bluetooth Headphones Review

The Mpow Magneto Bluetooth headphones are an excellent option for wireless headphones as the smartphone industry inches towards a future where the 3.5mm jack is a part of history.

Recently Lenovo launched the Moto Z, sans headphone jack. Lenovo is the first major brand the release their flagship device with no 3.5mm headphone jack. If rumors in the Apple-sphere hold true, the next iPhone will also ditch the 3.5mm jack in favour of the the lightning port to drive wired audio connections. For a good read on that topic, check out Nilay Patel’s article on The Verge discussing how the removal of port is “hostile and stupid.” Its a good read!

With device makers heading down this inevitable road, whether you like it or not, looking for a solid pair of Bluetooth headphones is certainly something to consider going forward.

The Mpow Magnetos are one of several options but I think you will find that they are one of the most compelling for a number of reasons. More below the break.

You may not have heard of Mpow before, as they are a significantly smaller player compared to the likes of Jaybird, Beats, Plantronics, and other big name brands in this space. The most compelling thing about Mpow, as a brand, is their exceptionally low prices and surprising quality. Not just for Bluetooth ear buds either, but a vast array of different smartphone and PC accessories. 

What else do the Magnetos offer? Well as you may have guessed by their clever name, Magneto, magnets play a key role in their design and function. The outside parts of the ear pieces have small magnets on the inside which allow the the buds to stick together when not in use, be it around your neck or in your bag. Pretty useful right? Well it does not stop their. The magnets also will pause your audio playback when you connect them, as well as resume playback when they are pulled apart. It is a very simple feature, sure, but one that has proven very useful for me in my use of the product. This feature also works to answer calls.

Outside of this unique feature the overall design and build quality of the Magnetos are very appealing, including the inline remote for pause/call answer and volume +/- which I found to be very responsive. The inline microphone handled calls as well as I expected with no reported quality issues reported from the callers on the other end of the line. They also sport the following specs:

  • CVC 6.0 noise cancellation technology
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Battery time of up to 8 hours of talk/music time and up to 175 hours of standby time (your milage will vary, as did mine)
  • Apt-X technology for CD-like, high-quality sound performance

Inside the box you will find a USB micro to type A cable for charging, clips that can be optionally installed to provide addition stability and two different sized ear tips to ensure a proper fit. For most, the tips that are pre-installed, medium, will do just fine.

I picked up the Mpow Magnetos on Amazon for $35 CAD, check the link below for both CAD and USD pricing at Amazon.

MPOW Magneto at Amazon.com – HERE

MPOW Magneto at Amazon.ca – HERE

‘Tile’ helps you find things when you need them the most!

The “Tile” is a Bluetooth enabled tag that will help you keep track of things like your keys, wallet or laptop.

If you are like me, you are constantly misplacing your keys or wallet at home. Despite several efforts to create a designated home for my keys and wallet when at home it just never works out. I set a bowl on the table near the garage door, quickly that bowl is full of other orphaned items leaving no room for the keys, so i set them at the next place I come across or simply forget to drop them there and will leave them on the bed side stand. 

Inevitably, when I am walking out the door to head to the gym, work, store or wherever I can never find my keys. This is not an exaggeration, it is just a fact. Countless times I have had to run around the house like a maniac looking for on of, or both of, my keys or wallet.

Then I discovered Tile and all that has changed.

What is Tile?

Tile is a small Bluetooth enabled block or “tile” and is about 1in x 1in in size. 

Tile, when paired with your phone via the Tile App allows you to locate your tile, therefore leading you to your misplaced item. 

From within the Tile app you will see your list of Tiles, as well as your phone (more on that later). By taping the item you are looking for, and then on the “Find” button and your Tile will start ringing to alert you of its location.

Another handy feature for some (not myself as my phone is permanently tethered to me) is the ability to ring your phone by pressing the “e” on the Tile itself. This, again providing the phone is i range, will ring your phone, until you tell the Tile app you have found your phone.  

You can also share your tile with a friend or family member which will allow them to also try and find your missing item.

So that is all that is great about the Tile. Are there any cons? There are a few.

The Tile battery is not replaceable. To some this may be an inconvenience. I personally would prefer a replaceable battery that I could swap out as needed and recycle the old one through the various recycling programs available in my area. However, not everyone prefers this and Tile makes sure it is easy for you to safely return your old Tile for recycled, keeping the depleted battery of the Tile out of a landfill. When the battery runs out, and you order via their reTile program, Tile sends a long a return envelope More info on that can be found here. https://www.thetileapp.com/reTile. 

The second concern I would attribute to the Tile is its size relative to another e-tag device with similar functions, the “TrackR“. When on your key ring or hidden away in your bag, the size of the Tile is not a concern. However, when placing the Tile in a wallet, it adds significant bulk to an already bulky personal item. This is a very minor concern however. 

Ultimately, I do think the Tile is a wonderful little accessory that will help you keep track of your personal items that seem to grow legs and wonder off, and I highly recommend checking it out. Keep in mind though, that they are disposable items and not perfect for every use case they offer.

Check the Tile out over on their site!

The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 packs all the power you will ever need.

Heading out on a trip and not liking the idea of lugging around, and inevitably losing, several different USB chargers? The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 is just what you are looking for.

Well, all the power you will ever need until it needs to be recharged again.

What is it?

The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 is a USB-C portable external battery containing a massive 20100 mAH battery.

This particular portable battery is host to 2 x USB type A ports and 1 x USB type C ports. Charging the battery is completed via the USB type C port which is also capable of delivering a charge to USB type C devices, including the new MacBooks which charge via USB-C.  While the USB type A ports are for charging other devices such as your tablet or phone.

The PowerCore+ 20100 utilizes “PowerIQ & VoltageBoost” technology. According to Anker, ” PowerIQ™ technology dynamically detects and adapts to your device’s unique charging protocol enabling it to charge at full speed. So thanks to PowerIQ™, together with Anker’s industry-leading power output, charge faster and save time.” (source https://www.anker.com/poweriq/). What does that mean? Simply put, your device will charge faster when connected to this battery pack compared to most other charging appliances available.

In the box you will find the following: 60cm USB A to USB-C cable, 60cm Micro USB cable, 90cm USB-C to USB-C cable, welcome guide and a travel pouch. The PowerCore+ 20100 comes with an 18 month limited warranty as well.

Why do you want this?

This is a road-warriors best friend. With the exceptionally high capacity battery, this power pack is capable of charging devices such as Google’s Nexus 6P’s 3,450 mAH battery several times before needing a recharge.

According to Anker, you could charge one MacBook, one iPad Air 2 and one iPhone fully on one charge.

This would be ideal for use on a weekend trip for business or family camping trip and want to keep your phone and tablet charged up without lugging around several different wall wart adapters and cables.

My Experience

I recently used the PoweCore+ on an trip to Montreal. I had no qualms about where I would be able to plug into a traditional charger. We were staying in an Air BNB apartment, so plugging in each night was not going to be an issue.

However, we were planning to be sightseeing each day of our 4 days in the city and I do not trust my Nexus 6P to make it through a day even when the camera is not used. So with the extra drain expected on the battery, I did not want to worry about missing a picture as the result of a dead phone battery.

The PowerCore+ added very little bulk to my bag that was also toting our water bottles among other essentials.

While out and about snapping pictures my battery quickly dropped down to the 40% mark. Between destinations I connected the USB A to C cable to the battery pack and carried on for 20 or so minutes. Each time I disconnected my battery was back up to about 75% and I was ready to go again.

One thing I did not discover until after my trip was how to use the battery with a USB C cable to charge the device. As mentioned this battery can charge a device off of all three USB ports. Each and every time I connected my Nexus 6P to the battery pack it would draw power from the phone, not provide a charge. After some reading online I discovered that to charge a device off the UCB C port, you must first press the indicator button on the battery then connect the device. This appears to reverse the current direction on the port allowing it to charge your device.

Should You Buy This?

Absolutely! There are several other brands in the heavily saturated market of portable batteries but, Anker is number one in this space, so you know your investment will be well worth it in the end. 

The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 portable battery can be purchased on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

Visit Anker.com

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