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January 2013 Archives

January 4, 2013

Goal Zero Guide 10 Rechargable Battery Pack and USB Charger

Portable chargers certainly were useful the morning after Hurricane Sandy (see earlier post), but as the outage continued even these backup batteries eventually ran dry, leaving us to hunt for a friend or a business with live wall jacks, to charge both our devices and our chargers.

But we probably still have plenty of potential power in our homes, just locked up in various batteries in drawers and closets. What we need, then, is batteries with a USB jack so they can be connected to our devices -- something like the Goal Zero Guide 10 Rechargable Battery Pack.

This is a rechargable battery pack that you can use as a battery charger -- or, once loaded with charged batteries it also serves as a power pack with the integrated USB port. It can charge a cell phone up to 3 times, and even have the amps to charge tablets and iPads.

The Guide 10 uses four AA or AAA batteries, and comes with AA NiMH cells with a shelf life of 12 months. It recharges through a miniUSB connector in 8 to 10 hours.

Plus Goal Zero is a solar energy company, so you can recharge the Guide 10 using solar panels, including the Nomad 3.5 in 6 to 8 hours, or the Nomad 7 in 2 to 4 hours. (The Goal Zero Nomad 7, for example, is a compact 7 watt panel that folds to 6 x 9 x 1 inches and weighs 0.8 pounds. It can charge handheld devices directly, including smartphones in 2 to 4 hours. It's available for around $80.)

As a bonus, the Guide 10 has a built-in LED light that runs over 100 hours as an emergency flashlight. It's weather-resistant, with a snap-close cover for use on the move. And it's compact, at 4 x 2.5 x 0.75 inches and 0.4 lbs.

The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus is available for around $40 to keep you powered on the go, or during prolonged outages.

See my Holiday Gadgets 2012 coverage of Portable Accessories for more on chargers and other useful and fun ideas.

Find the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus on Amazon.com

January 7, 2013

CES 2013 Returns to Vegas

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) returns to Las Vegas this week, with the exhibition running from Tuesday, January 8 through Friday, January 11, 2012.

The show is produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which reports that CES continues to be the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, and the largest tradeshow of any kind in North America.

Last year's CES expanded to over 156,000 attendees, with over 35,000 international visitors from over 150 countries.

This year the show floor has grown slightly to more than 1.87 million net square feet, with some 3,000 exhibitors expected to launch some 20,000 new products.

Specific focus areas and Tech Zones include eight automakers, more than 300 exhibitors in the iLounge Pavilion with Apple and other mobile accessories and software, some 140 startups exhibiting in the Eureka Park, and more than 220 companies exhibiting digital health and fitness products.

Other major product trends mentioned by the CEA include cloud-based services, gesture and sensing technologies, connected vehicles, the latest smartphone and tablet innovations and Ultra HDTV.

CES 2012: Attendees in the hallway outside the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (CEA)

As in previous years, the gadget blogs and tech publications will be out in force at CES, with teams live blogging the new announcements for hot-off-the-press coverage. I'll update my annual summary document with links to these sources and other coverage of the show.

See my 2013 International CES Summary article for information on the show, facilities, Las Vegas, exhibits, conference program, and press events -- plus evolving links to more information and press / blog coverage.

January 22, 2013

Olloclip 3-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone

Smartphones like the iPhone 5 have grown into serious photo and video cameras. These devices now have the megapixel resolution, better lenses, and image processing to reasonably replace point-and-shoot cameras.

So it's not surprising that the recent CES conference (see earlier post) featured a variety of photo and video accessories for these new imaging platforms.

For example, the iPhone lens is good, but sometimes it would be nice to have a wider angle, or to be able to zoom in close. But smartphones don't have threading for lens mounts, so this requires a different approach -- like the Olloclip quick-connect lens for the iPhone.

The Olloclip is actually a 3-in-1 lens that slides over the corner of the iPhone, aligning with the lens for the higher-quality rear-facing camera. It's a quality device, made from anodized aluminum and ground glass multi-element optics.

The clever design has lenses on both sides. Insert it one way to use the wide angle lens to double the viewing angle, or flip it over to use the fisheye lens with around a 180 degree field of view. Plus, you can unscrew the wide angle lens to expose a macro lens with 10X magnification, to focus within a half inch.

You then can shoot photos and videos with the native iPhone Photo app, or with other imaging apps, but now with a greater variety of looks.

As you learn to take advantage of the new possibilities, be aware that the wide angle lens does produce some barrel distortion in the captured image, and shooting with the fisheye lens can produce a slight offset that depends on your particular device. Olloclip recommends experimenting with tilting the fisheye lens within the assembly to compensate.

The Olloclip is available in red, black, and white versions for the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 4/4S, for around $69. It comes with lens caps and a microfiber bag that also serves as a lens cleaner. The iPhone 4/4S version also includes a iPod touch 4th generation adapter.

This is a smart and simple device -- just quickly slide on for your choice of additional lenses.

See my Holiday Gadgets 2012 coverage of Portable Accessories for more imaging devices and other useful and fun ideas.

Find the Olloclip lens for iPhone on Amazon.com

January 28, 2013

Studio Neat Glif Tripod Mount and Stand for iPhone

Part of the fun of tech gadgets and accessories is seeing the inventiveness of small companies -- in creating seemingly simple things that are just the right answer to perhaps small but irritating problems.

For example, photo accessories like the Olloclip Photo Lens (see previous post) further enhance the iPhone as a powerful camera. But the more your phone is like a camera, the more it would be useful to have a way to support and stabilize it, especially for shooting video of long events.

Enter a simple solution -- the Studio Neat Glif Tripod Mount & Stand for iPhone 4/4S and 5.

Just slip it on the end of your phone, and it adds a standard tripod mount thread-- so you can set up your phone camera for shooting on a tripod, monopod, or other support. It also can be used to prop up your iPhone at different angles

Studio Neat offers the Glif mount for $20 for the iPhone 4/4S or 5, plus the Glif Plus bundle with two other devices for $30. This includes the Serif cross-strut to keep the phone secure in mobile situations, and the Ligature keyring loop that attaches to the tripod thread on the Glif.

They also offer the Cosmonaut wide-grip stylus for touchscreens at $25.

The Glif mount is simple and smart, and is designed and manufactured in the U.S.A. Not bad indeed for two guys with an idea, fired up through a Kickstarter campaign.

See my Holiday Gadgets 2012 coverage of Portable Accessories for more imaging devices and other useful and fun ideas.

Find the Studio Neat Glif mount for iPhone on Amazon.com

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About January 2013

Entries posted to Manifest Tech Blog in January 2013, listed from oldest to newest.

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