Monthly boxes of random coolness (and sometimes crap)

I realized as I was sitting in the dentists office waiting for my son and daughter to finish that it had been a while since I had posted anything about the random unsolicited boxes of products I have received.

Some of these boxes I expect every month from subscription services hoping for publicity like the great folks at GeekBox and Wet Shave Club.  Others show up out of the blue, like the tshirt and sweatshirt that arrived with the "Last Star Fighter" logo shortly after I reposted an article about a sequel to that amazing movie being in the works.  Sometimes the contents are worth keeping, sometimes they are worth passing on to Jimmie and other friends, or handing to the wife and kids. Once in a while they are barely worth the room they take up in the trash can. 

Here come the pictures and descriptions, I'll come back through when I get time and add links where I can tomorrow.  Enjoy! 

This liquor infusion kit from TongueSpank Spice Co. was a welcome arrival

This liquor infusion kit from TongueSpank Spice Co. was a welcome arrival

This hoodie and matching tee came from the production folks behind the new Last Starfighter movie

This hoodie and matching tee came from the production folks behind the new Last Starfighter movie

These are just some of the tees to arrive from the guys at pop-up-tees this month

These are just some of the tees to arrive from the guys at pop-up-tees this month

Zac Brown Band sent us a few copies of their newest album.  If you haven't yet, buy it now. 

Zac Brown Band sent us a few copies of their newest album.  If you haven't yet, buy it now. 

May's monthly box from the guys at Birchbox included no-show liners from the folks at Taft in addition to the normal variety of grooming samples

May's monthly box from the guys at Birchbox included no-show liners from the folks at Taft in addition to the normal variety of grooming samples

This month finally brought the release of the Nüüd for iPhone 6 Plus from the folks at Lifeproof.  I've been amazed at how long it has taken some companies to get precision manufactured cases on the market for the 6 Plus, but this is by far the most durable case you will find, especially when combined with a ballistic glass screen protector. 

This month finally brought the release of the Nüüd for iPhone 6 Plus from the folks at Lifeproof.  I've been amazed at how long it has taken some companies to get precision manufactured cases on the market for the 6 Plus, but this is by far the most durable case you will find, especially when combined with a ballistic glass screen protector. 

GeekFUEL's theme this month was Teams, and featured items surrounding comic and movie teams like the Avengers and TMNT

GeekFUEL's theme this month was Teams, and featured items surrounding comic and movie teams like the Avengers and TMNT

As I've written about before, one of the most important items in my gear bag is a large battery pack to keep my devices charged.  This aluminum number from EliteBuy was on sale for just $30 on Amazon and is rated at 10000mAh, or around four full charges for your iPhone.  The color didn't win me over but construction was solid

As I've written about before, one of the most important items in my gear bag is a large battery pack to keep my devices charged.  This aluminum number from EliteBuy was on sale for just $30 on Amazon and is rated at 10000mAh, or around four full charges for your iPhone.  The color didn't win me over but construction was solid

This pack from Aukey, who are quickly becoming one of my favorite accessory companies was on sale for $20 when they sent it for review.  It features auto sensing technology that adjusted the output on the USB ports to charge devices as quickly as they would take power, and more importantly reduce output when your device gets closer to fully charged or is a lower powered device.  Very important to prevent overheating, especially when they are carried together in a gear bag. 

This pack from Aukey, who are quickly becoming one of my favorite accessory companies was on sale for $20 when they sent it for review.  It features auto sensing technology that adjusted the output on the USB ports to charge devices as quickly as they would take power, and more importantly reduce output when your device gets closer to fully charged or is a lower powered device.  Very important to prevent overheating, especially when they are carried together in a gear bag. 

This cool tabletop BX Bluetooth speaker from GoGroove is part of their BlueSYNC line.  While it's dual drivers and multiple input sources are pretty standard, and it's wood grain finish helps it fit in nicely on my night stand, GoGroove is hopeful that what will set this product line apart from the masses is the addition of a removable and rechargeable battery that is interchangeable with the other speakers in the lineup. 

This cool tabletop BX Bluetooth speaker from GoGroove is part of their BlueSYNC line.  While it's dual drivers and multiple input sources are pretty standard, and it's wood grain finish helps it fit in nicely on my night stand, GoGroove is hopeful that what will set this product line apart from the masses is the addition of a removable and rechargeable battery that is interchangeable with the other speakers in the lineup. 

The newest kid on the "lets throw together a box of stuff geeks and fanboys will like every month and see if they will pay to get surprised" block is NerdBlock, and they didn't do too bad with their first box.  I'll reserve final judgment on the company as a service until we get six months in, but I'm not upset by what I've seen yet. 

The newest kid on the "lets throw together a box of stuff geeks and fanboys will like every month and see if they will pay to get surprised" block is NerdBlock, and they didn't do too bad with their first box.  I'll reserve final judgment on the company as a service until we get six months in, but I'm not upset by what I've seen yet. 

The Foldio 2 from the folks at Orange Monkie is the perfect mobile photo studio

The Foldio 2 from the folks at Orange Monkie is the perfect mobile photo studio

Well, that was most of the assorted stuff that came in May.  I have some other reviews to get caught up on, and some great recipes to post for you guys.  Stay tuned. 

Gizmodo has all the best CyberMonday deals in one place

As always, Gizmodo and Kinja have teamed up to put together a comprehensive list of CyberMonday deals for all things tech and geek, I'll post deals as I find them but their list is a good place to start today.

 

Source: http://gizmodo.com/the-best-cyber-monday-d...

Review: Typo Keyboard

Today I received the Typo Keyboard, made famous by way of Ryan Seacrest's investment in the company and the lawsuit they face from Blackberry over the layout of their keyboard.

Right off the bat, the fact that the keyboard needs to be plugged in separately from the phone is a killer. The second thing you notice is that typing here isn't nearly as easy as it should be. At least for my thumbs, typing is cramped and difficult to get up to speed even after 20 minutes of practice.

The good news is it adds very little bulk or size to the unit. It feels good in the hand, and is responsive to touch.

If you really need a full time keyboard on your iphone it might be a good try, but for me the short comings make the $100 price tag far too high.

Review: The Brick from Binatone

When one of the first press releases I saw from CES this year was the announcement from Binatone that they were bringing back the old Brick cell phone form factor from the late '80s/ early '90s I was sceptical.  When I read further and saw that it could not only work as a 2G cell phone but could also function as a bluetooth handset for my iPhone, I get a little more intrgued.

While the exterior dimensions are familiar to anyone who grew up with these phones, the first thing you will notice is the weight being greatly reduced.  Modern electronics are a lot smaller and lighter, and it is noticeable.  The Brick will support an optional XXL battery that will provide up to 6 months of standy time(!), but ships with a battery that provided me with about 3 days during normal use connected via bluetooth to my iPhone.

In addition to it's bluetooth functionality it also has a built-in FM radio, calendar,  everyones favorite cell phone game snake, an alarm clock, and will access your address book via bluetooth from your smartphone so that you don't need to program numbers into it to dial.

In all, it works as designed, and has that old school charm that will bring back those early days of technology for a lot of us.  Sound quality is very good, and volume is surprisingly loud from the speaker.

I must not be the only one intrigued, as their inventory is completely sold out and backordered for several weeks.  I'd pre-order now, as they are likely to stay sold out for a while.  The device can be ordered for $69.99 from their website.

Kickstarter Project: Dustcloud

Dustcloud is an interesting new Kickstarter project that has me intrigued.  The idea and proof of concept evolved in Prague during 2012, while the people involved worked together in a bar in the old city.  They came up with a spy game, and started brainstorming how they could make it work online.  The result took them to China to design hardware, and resulted in an ambitious project.  Their goal is to build a combination social network and online role playing game based on cold-war era espionage and assassination.

 

The only issue is that it's ultimate success will depend greatly on rapid adoption.  In Europe it would be easier, as travel between countries is much more common, but in the USA unless a large number of players in major cities are involved it would become boring pretty quickly.  It is definitely an interesting idea, and one that I plan to keep an eye on though.

You can find more details here.

CES 2014: The Brick is Back (kind of)

The Brick, from Binatone brings the '80s backThose of you in your 30s like me likely remember early cell phones from TV.  Huge brick shaped things with no battery life that were hugely impractical but were the only portable option short of the suitcase phones that Motorola first launched.  The folks at Binatone have brought back the basic design with a modern battery that can last up to 3(?) months on a single charge.  In addition to being able to be used as a very basic cell phone with any SIM card, it can also function as a bluetooth handset, allowing you to make and recieve phone calls without the distraction of a smartphone when you don't want it around.

I don't know if the idea will take off, ut I have reached out to the folks at Binaphone for a demo unit to see how it works. 

 

You Can Have a Zack Morris Brick Phone Without Going Back In Time:

You Can Have a Zack Morris Brick Phone Without Going Back In Time

 

Product review: Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt for iPhone from Kwikset

Today I recieved the Kevo Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt for iPhone, and I have to say, this is pretty slick.  Installation took about 10 minutes to remove the old deadbolt and install the new one.  From there it was as simple as installing the app from the app store and registering.  Once I was registered it paired quickly with my phone and was operational in minutes.  Now I simply touch the lock with my phone still in my pocket and the door unlocks!

The Kevo system runs on four AA batteries, and it says they should last a year or more.  The system also includes a keyless entry fob that when calibrated can stay in your pocket and identify itself just as the phone does for those folks you have that need access but do not have an iPhone.  It also includes two standard keys in case batterries die or something goes wrong with the programing.

I was able to send electronic keys to my whole family in about 5 minutes so that they have them on their iPhones, and programming the two extra keyless entry fobs they sent took seconds each.

In all this is a very simple to use system that brings my door lock into the 21st century quite simply and easily.  Highly recomended.

Product Review: Senta Ally Bluetooth Speaker from C. Crane

The Senta Ally from the C. Crane Company is an amazing speaker at a great priceA few weeks ago I recieved the Senta Ally Bluetooth Portable Stereo Speaker from C. Crane, and I have to tell you, this blows any other portable bluetooth speaker I have tried out of the water.  I love music and audio books, and listen to both from my iPhone all the time.  I have been looking for a way to listen wirelessly for some time, and have tried quite a few speakers, but none have the range of sound and richness of tone that this one has.  

I use it via bluetooth only, but it has quite a few other features.  Like others in this category it has a microphone which allows it to be used as a speaker phone, but also includes an FM tuner with 99 presets, the ability to listen to MP3 files from either an SD card or via USB, and an aux in jack to connect your MP3 player.  All of these are great, but it is the sound quality that makes this the best on the market.

C. Crane Company has been in business for a lot of years, and are known throughout the amateur radio community as the go-to place for electronics gear.  This speaker is no different.  Room filling clean sound, loud enough to be heard over the shower, and yet enough battery life to last all night when falling asleep to your favorite music.

Trust me, if you are in the market for a bluetooth speaker avoid the Bose hype and Jawbone or Beats prices.  For $69.95 this is the one to buy.

Kickstarter Project: Sound Band

A new company named Hybra Advance Technology, Inc. from Traverse City, MI has launched an interesting KickStarter project called Sound Band.  It is a wireless headset that uses sound surface technology instead of speakers for better sound without negatively impacting your ability to hear sounds around you.


They have already completed three design revisions, and are looking for funding to enter production with the fourth design, and have already reached their funding goal in one week.  This is a great project and an interesting new move in wireless portable sound.  Take a look and consider backing them!