Archive for the Lifestyles Category

Acer Aspire Switch 10 on the Go

Posted in Gadgets, Hi-Tech, Lifestyles with tags , on October 6, 2014 by shutterbuggeek

I received the Acer Aspire Switch 10 a few weeks ago, and after a couple of days of using it for work and play wrote this post. Now after working on it more in-depth, I can say this Acer 2 in 1 is great on the go. I used it during a meeting, at the library, and while traveling, with and without wifi.

Driving to my destination, I connected the 2 in 1 to my car with an audio out cable, since I used Bluetooth with my phone at the time. I listened to a  new playlist, and loved non-commercial selections of my favorite tunes.

DropCam Screenshot

I downloaded the Dropcam Pro app. I like to use Dropcam as a surveillance device while I’m away. I could monitor the exterior of my home, and keep an eye out for any deliveries.

Tip: Bluetooth has to be enabled before pairing devices. Click the arrow next to the keyboard icon at the bottom right of the screen. It will open the Acer Quick Access menu. Scroll to the top and slide the Bluetooth toggle to the right. Now you can proceed with pairing.

I paired my Braven speaker to give the audio more bass and a richer sound. This made singing and dancing at my friend’s house a lot more fun!

Once Upon a Time Screenshot

I like to watch movies on planes, in hotels and on cruises, sometimes alone with headphones, and other times with my family paired with speakers. Tent mode works great for this purpose, but occasionally, I can connect the 2 in 1 to the HDTV so we can all watch on a big screen in our room. I can do this with my micro-HDMI adapter. It worked beautifully! With a wifi connection, we watched TV shows on Hulu and Amazon Prime Instant Video directly from the site using the browser and streamed movies using the Netflix app, watched Ultraviolet movies via the Flixter app, and watched TV shows using CBS, ABC or one of several other network apps.

I also took advantaged of wifi by video chatting with family or friends via Skype.

OneTable Screenshot

The OneTable app to made making dinner reservations easy peasy, and racked up points towards a $20 dining check. This app also allowed me to discover restaurants in the area. I found a great  restaurant that I can’t wait to eat in again!

Acer Aspire Switch 10 Dual Screens

I am experimenting with the Office Suite apps so I can share Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on a larger screen at upcoming meetings and events with the screen in presentation mode, using dual screens. The micro USB adapter I purchased made the connection a snap!

I like to take a lot of photos wherever I go, especially on vacation. When I shoot video as well, I transfer my files, and I did this easily by connecting my camera to the USB port on the keyboard.

Considering the brains of this 2 in 1 device is all behind the monitor, makes this ultra convenient. I have even used this as a laptop without the keyboard. This means I am using a tablet to do things that I should only be able to with a laptop, like watch Hulu.com. Score!

It allowed me to bring this with me for business and travel. It didn’t matter if I was in a café writing a document and sipping on chai tea, or at the park listening to an audio book while taking photos, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 has been able to keep up with all of my on-the-go needs so far. It packs a big punch for a small price, and I like that!

#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include Intel providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Intel 2 in 1

Netflix Original Series

Posted in Entertainment, Entertainment-Movies, Lifestyles with tags , on September 26, 2014 by shutterbuggeek

Netflix House of Cards and Orange is the New Black

I’m obsessed with Netflix, especially after binge watching a few TV series over the summer. I’ve been a fan of Orange is the New Black, but didn’t start watching until after the first season had ended. It made me curious about other Netflix original series.

One series I’d heard so much about is House of Cards. I usually like political dramas, so I thought this wouldn’t disappoint me. Not only did it NOT disappoint, but it was beyond what I imagined. HoC really goes THERE. Much like OITNB, it’s a no holds barred show, and nothing like what I see on network TV.

Netflix has certainly evolved since starting out as a DVD home delivery company, to adding streaming to the plan, and now offering a selection of amazing original series with more on the way.

The current lineup includes Arrested Development, Bad Samaritans, BoJack Horseman, Hemlock Grove, House of Cards, Lilyhammer, Orange is the New Black, and Turbo FAST. As if this wasn’t good enough, Netflix has a number of new quality series lined up.

Love, a Judd Apatow series is coming to Netflix, as well as the sci-fi series Sense8 from the Wachowski siblings. PLUS  Marvel has a few superhero shows heading to Netflix, featuring Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, there’s the Pablo Escobar drug drama Narcos, and I’m also looking forward to the adventure epic Marco Polo!

Movies and TV hits used to be the big draw to Netflix, but now that they will have a small arsenal of amazing original series, viewers might not use too many other apps for entertainment.

eLibraries Change How We Borrow Content

Posted in Entertainment-Movies, Entertainment-Music, Hi-Tech, Lifestyles with tags , on June 16, 2014 by shutterbuggeek

Princeton Public Library eLibrary

Summer reading programs have begun, as well as vacations, so kids, teens, and adults are searching for reading material. Princeton Public Library has revamped their eLibrary to make life more convenient for cardholders. It’s easier than ever to get collections of books and other content to you without a visit.

In these days of instant gratification in the form of streaming and downloadable content, Princeton Public Library is constantly redefining itself to meet the needs of the community. Hoopla, Mango, OverDrive, and Zinio allow you to read, watch, and listen to content for free on your desktop, laptop, eBook reader, tablet, cell phone, or iPod Touch.

Unlike some free e-book apps that merely provide the classics, Hoopla and OverDrive e-book and audio book selections are bestsellers from authors like John Grisham, Veronica Roth, Judy Blume, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, John Green, Markus Zusak, Katie DiCamillo, and EL James. There’s something for all ages and both genders.

In addition to audio books and e-books, Hoopla also provides movies, music, and TV shows. Zinio gives you current and archive issues of popular magazines, such as O (Oprah), Car and Driver, Macbook, The Economist, Cosmopolitan, Popular Photography plus others that will pique the interest of most men and women.

The eLibrary doesn’t end there. Leaving the country for business, vacation or relocation, or studying abroad in a land where the language is foreign to you? Download the Mango app and learn a new language or refresh your skills at home or on the go.

The best thing is, these collections are available 24/7 wherever you get wi-fi. So you can still get a book and some magazines at the airport or at your final destination if you’ve forgotten to download before you left home.

A four-hour training session will be held at the library on June 26th to learn how to use the eLibrary for those who are not as technically incline, so make an appointment today if you’re interested. The librarians can also offer you quick help over the phone if you’re a bit tech savvy.

There is also an e-book challenge for the month of June. Load up on e-books using OverDrive, and help the Princeton Public Library win $1,500 to further build their digital collection. You can check out up to five books at a time for 21 days.

Not near the Princeton Public Library? Check out your local library’s digital collections. Happy Reading!

Cool and Practical Gadgets for Power Outages

Posted in Gadgets, Hi-Tech, Lifestyles with tags , , on February 7, 2013 by shutterbuggeek

Items for Power Outages

The power seems to go out periodically no matter what time of year it is. You might be one of the fortunate ones to live in the heart of town with the fewest outages. I’m not that lucky. It seems like every other month the power is out in my grid for about an hour, but sometimes it’s out for one to seven days because of a storm. And since it’s the season for snow storms, I am listing cool gadgets to buy for those without a generator. Some are practical, and others are for entertainment.

Rechargeable items are listed becausethere’s always somewhere in town with power that offers free charging stations, or you can buy item #12 to power them up while driving. These sources will help juice up devices and power packs for an evening of work or play. Finish cooking dinner before it gets too dark unless you have powerful lighting like item #1.

  1. 27 LED Superbright Worklight/Flashlight – This is really VERY bright. The magnet allows for attaching under an over-the-range microwave oven for cooking (if you have a gas range), or hooking onto anything for hands free light.  The best part is it only uses 3 AAA batteries (no hard to find Cs).
  2. Energizer 7 LED Headlight – Wear this around your head for hands=free reading or working. The pivoting head allows you to target the light.
  3. Tablet – A laptop is great, but requires too much power to operate. Tablets can be charged faster, have practical and fun apps
  4. Smartphone – This is even more efficient since it charges in 1 – 1.5 hours, and keeps you up to date with news.
  5. FrogEye Power Play P80  – Charge phones, tablets and other small devices on this list. It has a 8,000 mAh lithium battery that can charge an iPad nearly full.
  6. Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector – Stream video or play movies stored on your device. This will provide a couple of hours of entertainment.
  7. Jambox Wireless Speakers – Enhance the sound of your smartphone, tablet, or above projector with a Bluetooth speaker. The popular Jambox has the bass many like. The Braven speaker (pictured) has a built-in power bank and can be connected to other wireless speakers for a bigger sound.
  8. Seagate Wireless Plus – Store up to 1 TB of videos, music, photos, and files on this re-chargeable storage device. It has its own wi-fi network, so you can stream the same content wirelessly to up to eight devices or three different movies to three devices simultaneously. You can create a portable home theatre combined with the projector and speakers above. This will certainly entertain family and friends. Not too shabby during a power outage. I’m currently using the older Kingston Wi-Drive, which only offers 8-64 GB .
  9. Wired Phone – An old school technology that comes to the rescue in a time of need.
  10. Charcoal or Gas Grill – This will allow you to cook if you don’t have a gas stove.
  11. RadioShack Emergency AM/FM/WX Crank Radio – Stay in the know.
  12. DC/AC Power Inverter – Plug it into your car, and you can charge your mobile devices while you drive.
  13. APC UPS Battery Back Up – This is great for when you’re working on your computer  and the power goes out. You’ll have at least 5-15 minutes to save documents and shut down properly. It also has surge protection.
  14. Solar-Powered Backup Battery Charger – Power up small devices.
  15. ReadyBright Lighting System – Small light devices stay plugged in outlets to charge, and come on in an outage. They can be unplugged and used as flashights.
  16. Fashy Fleece Covered Hot Water Bottle – Not a gadget, but can keep you warm if you can boil water or get hot water still from your tap. Place it your bed to warm it up at night. Many come with fleece covers. The one pictured has a polar bear fleece cover, and is great to snuggle.

FrogEye HotBox S7+ Wireless Speaker Review

Posted in Entertainment, Gadgets, Lifestyles with tags , , , on January 28, 2013 by shutterbuggeek

FrogEye HotBox S7+ Boxed

FrogEye is a new company that has just introduced an awesome line of lifestyle products. The HotBox S7+ is one of their Bluetooth speakers. Like their S6 model, it has a noise-cancelling microphone to use as a speakerphone, but it also has an integrated power bank to charge mobile phones.

Unboxing FrogEye HotBox S7+

UNBOXING

The packaging is of premium grade materials. Heavy stock cardboard houses what looks to be compressed foam board that cradles the speaker. The external packaging is asymmetrical, allowing the product to peek through the clear plastic on the right side. The accessories include a micro USB cable, a 3.5 mm stereo cable to connect to non-Bluetooth devices, and a water-resistant carrying pouch. There’s also a user guide, which in these days of online manuals is not a given. Right off the bat I had high expectations due to their marketing. So far, I’ve been impressed. Let’s see if this speaker can live up to its branding.

PAIRING

Pairing was quick and easy to a 3rd gen iPad and LG phone. It took a minute to pair a six-year old iMac. A 2nd gen iPod Touch and an iPad 2 needed several attempts before pairing was possible. Re-connecting was easy for all except the iPad 2, which seems to have had a general issue with Bluetooth.

TESTING

I tested sound quality of music and video playback as well as voice on the speakerphone on both the speaker and receiver ends. I listened to diversified sources to test the frequency range, and noise ratio of the speakers. The content came from files on my iPad, streaming sources from iPad apps, and streaming files via my iMac. I also connected the HotBox S7+ to a Toshiba laptop with the included cable. The MP3’s bit rates ranged from 128 – 256 kbps.

FrogEye HotBox S7+ Streaming Music from iPad 3

AUDIO

This little speaker handled everything I threw at it. I played classical, jazz, new age, R&B, pop, rock, hip hop, reggae, opera, and new wave (county & western from a video source). Starting with the mid-range that usually sounds muddled from most speakers this size, the HotBox S7+’s was natural and clear. The highs weren’t too sharp, and the bass was tight, though I could’ve used just a little more, but that’s usually at the sacrifice of the mid-range at this price ($199 at Amazon). The test playlist is below.

The two drivers deliver 3-watts per channel, making the volume quite impressive. I cranked up the source and the speakers to their maximum, and I walked around a 5,000 square foot house with an open floor plan with no other sounds present. I could hear the music playing everywhere through open doors, except for some spots upstairs. There wasn’t even distortion at that level. The volume is higher while using Bluetooth vs. while connected with a cable. Happily, there was very little noise, especially for a Bluetooth speaker.

Amazon Cloud Player : Duffy – Mercy, Three Mo’ Tenors – La Donna è Mobile, Andreas Vollenweider – Moonday, David Garrett – Smooth Criminal, Samuel Barber – Angus Dei (Adagio for Strings)

iMac: New Order – Shellshock, Tchaikovsky – 1812 Overture (op 49), Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl

iPad 3: Pearl Jam – Black, Bennie Man – Dude, David Sanborn – It’s You, Black Eyed Peas – Imma Be, M83 – Midnight City, John Mayer – Daughters

Pandora: Chairlift – Bruises, Sting – Englishman in New York, Solo Banton – Music Addict

Toshiba Satellite: Bobby Valentino – Slow Down

FrogEye HotBox S7+ Paired with iPad 3

VIDEO

The HotBox S7+ allowed me to really enjoy watching movies on my iPad and mobile phone. There isn’t a lot of stereo separation since the drivers are so close to each other, but there was enough ambience created to fully immerse me in whatever I was viewing.

ABC PlayerNashville

Amazon Prime Video – Thor

CrackleS.W.A.T.

Trailers – Olympus Has Fallen

YouTube – Katy Perry’s Wide Awake video

GAMING

My adventures were also taken to another level thanks to the HotBox S7+. How could I ever go back to listening to my iPads’s speakers? Asphalt4, Temple Run, Real Soccer 12, and Rock Band were played with much more enthusiasm.

NOISE-CANCELLING SPEAKERPHONE

I called my cell from my landline and had a conversation with family members. Their voices were loud and clear over the speaker. The noise-cancellation did a great job on the other end, allowing an equally amazing sound listen on the landline. The only difference was the volume was a bit lower, but not at all hollow or tinny sounding like from the speakerphone from mobile phones. This can definitely be used for business conference calls.

FrogEye HotBox S7+ as Power Bank Charging Android Phone

POWER BANK

The HotBox S7+ can charge mobile devices. After about seven hours of playing music and video, I was still able to charge my phone to 50% in a couple of hours. I think this is great as an add-on feature, and is pretty good in a pinch, but I wouldn’t rely on fully charging devices if you’ve use the speakers for a few hours. FrogEye sells a standalone power bank dedicated strictly to charging devices. I’ll review that another time.

PROS

The HotBox S7+ speaker comes in seven different colors, suitable for all lifestyles. It’s made from high quality materials, comes with good accessories, and in outstanding packaging. It’s fantastic for kids, teens, and adults for both personal and business use, and great for travel or at home. It has a speakerphone and a power bank, and can be used wired and wirelessly. The design is sleek and it has large control buttons on top. It’s loud, and small enough for traveling. Best of all, the sound quality is amazing!

CONS

The bass is tight, but a little light, yet about on par with other speakers of this size. Pairing can be frustrating on a few devices.

CONCLUSION

I prefer the sound quality of the HotBox over the JamBox (3.8) and Braven (4.3) wireless speakers, because it has a cleaner and more natural sound. TIP: the HotBox can be used in a car for those without a Bluetooth connection. This is definitely my go-to mobile speaker because of its big hi-fi sound. I rate the FrogEye HotBox S7+ wireless speaker 4.3 out of 5.

FrogEye has provided me with these complimentary speakers for the purpose of a review. While it has NOT influenced this review, I believe in full disclosure.

The Ultimate iPad/Tablet Accessories

Posted in Gadgets, Lifestyles with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by shutterbuggeek

iPad and Tablet Accessories

iPads and other tablets were a hot ticket on Santa’s sleigh, so if you weren’t on the naughty list, you might’ve received one this past holiday season. After a few weeks of use, you’ve probably discovered that you could use some accessories to enhance your user experience. I’ve compiled a list of the ultimate accessories for your new iPad, iPad mini, Android or Windows tablet. This includes the Kindle Fire and Nook HD.

Frogeye Hotbox S7+ – It’s a brand new Bluetooth speaker that includes a power bank to charge mobile devices, and a noise canceling microphone to use as a speakerphone. The sound is spectacular for such a little box, and it has a crisp mid-range. It’s very loud and comes in seven colors to fit your lifestyle.

eComfort Tablet Pillow – This tablet holder makes tablet use in bed very comfortable, but can be used anywhere else, i.e. in the car, on a plane, or at a table.

Sensū Portable Artist Brush & Stylus – Use the brush end with various art apps to create digital masterpieces, or the stylus end for art, writing, or playing games.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad – This super sleek Bluetooth keyboard is very stylish for iPads, comes in black AND white, has an auto-off feature like the Apple cover, and is comfortable while typing. For a universal model good for smart phones, the iPad mini, or Android tablets, check out the ZAGGkeys FLEX.

Frogeye PowerPlay P80 – This mobile power bank can charge two items at once, including topping off a tablet.

Apple Camera Adapter Kit – Place an SD card in it or attach a card reader with a CF (other) card to transfer photos to your iPad or iPad mini.

Cocoon Grid-It – A fantastic organizer that uses elastic bands attached to a pad to neatly keep your chargers, camera connection kit, earphones, etc. in place.

Apple TV – This media player gives you access to free and paid content via ‘apps’ on the device, as well as, audio and video files on your computer or iPad via wi-fi. In many cases you can either use Air Play to view video on your large screen TV, or you can mirror video apps or games onto the screen for  better viewing.

Bowers & Wilkens Headphones – The B&W P5 is stylish and has a pure sound. This is one that adults AND teens would use.

Smart Phone with a Hot Spot – A hot spot will allow your device to tap into your mobile phone’s 3G or 4G service to gain data service. This should be included in your monthly fee if you have a new contract since August 2012, otherwise you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for use of a hot spot. You can usually tether 3 or more devices to one hot spot.

ion Audio iCade – This turns your iPad into a retro arcade using a 30 pin connector. Works great with the Atari game app.

Belkin @TV Plus – A media streamer (think affordable Slingbox) that has built-in wifi, so there’s no need to connect it to ethernet. You can watch live TV, recorded DVR content, or record live TV on your tablet thanks to the free companion app.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite – Rechargeable storage device (500 GB) that uses its own built-in wifi to wirelessly stream different audio and video content simultaneously to multiple tablets. Great for entertaining kids of all ages in the car, at airport terminals, etc.

Belkin Kitchen Cabinet Mount – This will allow you to easily watch live TV or Video on Demand in the kitchen using the Comcast Xfinity TV Player, Verizon FiOS Mobile, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, ABC Player, HBO Go, WatchESPN, and other  apps. It ‘clamps’ under the cabinet to free up counter space.

Eye-Fi Wifi – In conjunction with the free Eye-fi app, you can wirelessly stream photos from your camera via the SD card sized accessory to your iPad.

Thirsty Bag – A clever bag that absorbs liquids from tablets that have gotten wet.

aLoksak – A waterproof storage bag that prevents your tablet from getting wet. The touchscreen can be used while enclosed. You can even use it underwater to take photos or shoot video.

HDMI Pocket Projection – Connect your tablet to this mini projector from Brookstone to view content anywhere up to 60″ diagonally. iPads require an extra adapter.

Belkin Mini Surge Protector With USB Charger – This is a must have for traveling (or at home). Plug in up to three AC power cords and two USB connectors from one outlet.

Some items can be purchased locally. You can get Apple products at Creative Computing. The projector, grid organizer, and tablet pillow are available at BrookstoneBest Buy has the bluetooth keyboard, Eye-fi, surge protector, headphones, and GoFlex, and the iCade is at Radio Shack. If there are any other add-ons you’d like to share, please list them in the comment section below.

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Posted in Gadgets, Lifestyles with tags , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2012 by shutterbuggeek

Do you or someone you know deserve some cool gifts this year? I’ve got your back. Here’s a list of some awesome gear to put on your list or to buy for that special someone.

3M Streaming Projector

3M Streaming Projector – Use it as a standalone portable projector that’s battery operated for about 1.5+ hours to watch video on the go or at home, or connect the included Roku streaming stick to stream content, i.e. Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, and Hulu Plus with a wi-fi connection. The Roku stick can also be used separately with an HDTV. Available exclusively through Amazon.

Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT – This external flash uses wireless two-way radio signals allowing an expanded zoom range.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT – It’s a two-way radio controlled transmitter that allows communication to up to 15 of the new 600 EX-RT Speedlites.

Canon EOS 6D – The ultimate prosumer full-frame DSLR.

Hydroflask – This reusable stainless steel water bottle has a double wall, and is vacuum insulated. This keeps your hot beverages HOT for 12 hours, and cold drinks COLD for 24 hours.

Fitbit One

Fitbit One – It tracks your activities and how many calories you’ve burned during the day, and measures your sleep cycle at night.

Samsung Galaxy S3 – The features blow the iPhone 5 out of the water. Yes, it’s still on many wish lists!

Wii U – Nintendo takes the Wii to the next level adding a game pad giving you a second screen.

iPad Mini – The new kid on the block is the perfect sized tablet for taking photos and video.

Kindle Paperwhite – There are some people (like my sister-in-law) who don’t want a tablet. They just want to read books, and like having instant access to content. This is the quintessential eReader. You can actually read eBooks in broad daylight, even on the beach without glare, and a single charge lasts eight weeks!

Control4 – Home automation at its finest. You can control your home theater, lighting, HVAC, audio, and security with a remote, smart phone or tablet.

FROGEYE – Has just debuted a few new lifestyle products. They are currently only available exclusively through pre-orders on their site or through Amazon, but they’re worth the wait. The first two products listed below have another option. Amazon is offering LOW introductory prices, so pre-order quickly!

Power Play P80 – A mobile power bank that has a 8000mAh rechargeable lithium battery, and comes with five interchangeable charging tips so you can charge just about any device. FrogEye’s specialty is it has a standard and a fast charging port, also giving you the capability to charge two devices simultaneously, plus gives you up to four charges.

Hotbox S7+ – This bluetooth speaker has excellent sound quality, a built-in 2-way noise canceling speakerphone, and comes in seven different colors. What makes FrogEye different from the popular JAMBOX is it has a built-in power bank, and 3 watts/channel (6 total), which makes it louder.

Renegade H10 Bluetooth headphones with a stylish design like Beats Wireless by Dr. Dre, but that’s where similarities end. FrogEye’s wireless headphones has an over-the-ear vs. beat’s on-ear design, has noise cancellation, and a built-in 2-way microphone to switch between music and calls. It also comes with an audio cable for flights and low battery.

 

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