PhotoSpring Smart Digital Photo Frame- Photo Frames brought into the 21st Century

PhotoSpring Smart Digital Photo Frame- Photo Frames brought into the 21st Century



What we love…

Easy to set up and use. Auto update feature allows it to automatically upload and display new photos without any effort

What we’d love to see…

Ability to create own albums and tag and search photos (planned in future updates)

Summary

PhotoSpring Smart Digital Photo Frame is an effortless way to bring  family photos off phones and computers and into everyday lives.  It provides an easy way to enjoy and share  photos and memories with family and friends near and far.

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As children my siblings and I loved seeing the new pictures every time we got a roll of film back from the developers, and we loved reminiscing as we looked through them together. We had albums of family photos lying around that we loved to look through whenever family or friends visited. With my own children most of our family photos have been taken on digital cameras and, more recently, on cellphones.  We take way more pictures now, but we never see most of them – they stay trapped in a digital graveyard on our computers and phones. I really that feel we, as a family, are missing out by not looking at family photos together and enjoying the memories they bring, but any solutions I’ve tried have just been too time consuming, and end up getting dropped after a few months.

I recently started using the PhotoSpring Smart Digital Photo Frame and I love how it has brought our family photos off our phones and back into our everyday lives.  When I heard “digital photo frame” my first thought was of a frame we had years ago that required downloading photos onto an SD card, which was then inserted in it to view the pictures. This was OK the first time we did it, but we rarely got around to creating new cards for it so the same pictures stayed on for years. Comparing the PhotoSpring to that is similar to comparing a Prius to a Model-T – they are both digital photo frames but otherwise have little in common. The PhotoSpring is so easy to use, and once set up it can keep adding new photos as I take them, without any effort on my behalf.

Our PhotoSpring is on a bookshelf in the living room and I’ve set it to automatically switch on in the mornings and off around our usual bedtime. It has a nice sharp display screen and a wide angle of view so you can see the pictures from where ever you are in the room. It is currently rotating through around 1,600 photos taken on my iPhone 7 and my husband’s iPhone 6 over the last year. I love that we are now seeing these pictures and that the kids will often comment about pictures they see and reminisce about the times they were taken.

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If a particular photo catches our eye we can take the PhotoSpring off it’s stand and use it as a digital photo album to look through the photos surrounding it at our own pace. It is easy to mark favorite pictures to make then easy to find later or to delete or hide photos we don’t want on display.

My favorite feature is that with it set on auto-update all the new pictures I take on my camera automatically appear on the PhotoSpring without me needing to do anything. As a busy mum of 3 I always have good intentions about making photo albums, printing photos etc but never quite find time to get it done. With PhotoSpring I no longer have to feel guilty about not being more organized with our family photos -PhotoSpring gets our family photos out and on display for without any effort on my part and that is priceless!

 

Unboxing

In the box is the photo frame, charger and stand. The PhotoSpring looks similar to a 10 inch iPad or Android tablet, but slightly thicker. It has a clean look with no buttons on the front and a white border around the screen. The stand works in either portrait or landscape mode. The charger can be connected to the stand to charge whilst displayed, or directly to the PhotoSpring. It has a nice long cord so I had no problem reaching an outlet.

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Set Up

Set up for the PhotoSpring is very quick and easy.  I had mine up and running in about 5 minutes.
1) Connect PhotoSpring to power and wait for it to turn on.
2) Connect PhotoSpring  to your home WiFi network. PhotoSpring will then download the most current version of it’s software.
3) Name your device (e’g Mary’s living room PhotoSpring) then enter your name and email address to get a PhotoSpring account invitation.
4) Respond to the email to create a free PhotoSpring account.
5) Download the PhotoSpring companion apps for iPhone, Android, Mac or Windows to start uploading photos to your PhotoSpring.

You can connect your account to more than one PhotoSpring and invite multiple friends and family to connect to your PhotoSpring. This is great for keep family connected. You can have PhotoSprings at home and work to easily access your photos in both locations. It makes a great gift for Grandparents or other family members because even if they live a long way away you can easily share photos across the miles.

The PhotoSpring comes preloaded with a slideshow that runs you through the features of the frame and how to use it, as well as some art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Sending Photos

There are 2 ways to send photos to your PhotoSpring:

1) Manually: To send photos you open up the PhotoSpring app on your device, select the photos you want to send, and choose which PhotoSpring(s) connected to your account to send them to.

2) Automatically: choose “auto-update” and the PhotoSpring app will automatically upload new photos from your phone (and thus to your PhotoSpring) whenever you have the app open. You can choose to do this only via WiFi or via WiFi and cellular. For iOS you do need to also give permission for PhotoSpring to use location services for this to work.

The photos get sent to PhotoSpring cloud server and from there they are downloaded onto your PhotoSpring for local storage. This does take a little time, it only takes a minute or two for one picture, but large numbers of pictures can take a while to appear.

I send my photos via the auto-update feature as it means I don’t even have to think about uploading my pictures they just appear, my husband prefers to send his manually.

 

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In Use

Once the photos appear on the PhotoSpring they are automatically sorted and duplicate pictures are removed. It will place the pictures in smart albums based on the place they were taken, if they are geo-tagged and location service permission was granted. If you have multiple people connected to your PhotoSpring it will also create albums based on the person taking them.

When playing a slide show you can display either: a) all the photos on the PhotoSpring,  or b) all of a particular album or c) or you can apply one of these 3 filters:

1) Favorite photos- you can mark these by taping on a heart symbol.

2) People- PhotoSpring automatically detects pictures with people in.

3) Best quality- PhotoSpring assesses the picture quality and marks with a lightning symbol those that it considers the best quality.

The PhotoSpring is available with 16GB, 32GB or 80 GB of memory. How many photos it will hold depends on the size/ quality of your images, mine is a 16GB currently has 1,600 photos on it that were taken in an iPhone 7 and is about 25 % full.

The PhotoSpring is a also a touchscreen device, it has a 4 hour battery life so you can remove it from the stand to look through your photo albums and remove, hide or favorite pictures. You can select individual photos or whole albums when hiding, deleting or marking as favorite. When looking at an album the pictures are organized in date order of when they were taken, and you can choose to see them newest first or oldest first. On the side there is a timeline arrow that you can move up or down to easily find photos from a specific date.

In the evenings I like to sit and look through my photo albums – it is a great way to really enjoy the pictures but also lets me easily weed out pictures I don’t want on display and to highlight favorites that I might want to print or create a photo book from later. I would love a way to easily create my own albums as I do this so, that I could create separate slideshows with a theme e.g. vacations, kid’s art work, Scout trips; I am told that the company has plans to add this feature in the future, along with the ability to tag and search.

Currently PhotoSpring only supports digital photos, but video support is due to be added in the next few weeks. The PhotoSpring has built-in speakers ready for video support. When the company updates the software to add new features it automatically updates via WiFi so you don’t need to check for updates to access the new features.

Summary

I love our PhotoSpring – it makes it so easy to enjoy and share our family photos with very little time or effort on my part. The auto-update feature makes it effortless to constantly update the frame with new pictures. My whole family is enjoying  it. We all get to enjoy our family photos and gives us many opportunities to easily took through photos and share memories together. It makes a great gift for moms and dads as an easy way to view family photos at home or in the office. It is also is a great gift idea for grandparents, as long as they have a WiFi connection, many different family members can connect to their PhotoSpring and easily keep them updated with family pictures even if they live a long way away or even in a different country. Highly recommended !

PhotoSpring Smart Digital Photo Frame is available from PhotoSpring.com with 16, 32 or 80GB storage from $149

 

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

 

 

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
SnapPower Safe Light and USB Charger by SnapPower – Review

SnapPower Safe Light and USB Charger by SnapPower – Review

What we love…

super easy to install SnapPower Safe Light allows you to childproof and install night lights throughout your house.  Snap Power Charger is a perfect outlet replacement especially if you have a home office where you might need to charge your electronics without having them downstairs

What we’d love to see…

ability to use in a bathroom or kitchen using GFCI

Summary

Easy to install child proofing solution that has the benefit of pathway lighting and no covers to lose or cords to lose when charging your cell phone. I love how easy it is to access my outlets now and don’t worry my toddler will see me removing one of the plastic outlet covers and try to do so himself potentially resulting in a hazard.  Simple.  Easy.  A must have product in my home.

Our Rating

 

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SnapPower Safe Light by SnapPower is an easy to install wall replacement switch that not only childproofs but adds lights so you don’t need to take up one of the outlets with a nightlight.  As a mom of a toddler, I increasingly found myself telling my son “no” when it came to power outlets.  I remember childproofing with my first involved cumbersome outlet covers or the little white outlet covers you would remove just so you could vacuum and then stick back in.  I knew that there had to be a better solution.  At our house, in addition to needing to childproof, many of our outlets had nightlights plugged into at least one of the outlets.  We have some pretty dark corners, especially at the bottom of the stairs.  Other products in the lineup include switch plate covers for light switches
Installation was a snap – it took me more time to go downstairs and turn off the breaker than it did to install each of the three SnapPower Safe Lights.  You simply switch off the power, remove the outlet cover, and then insert the new outlet cover which has metal prongs on each side.  These prongs go inside the outlet and provide power for the LED guidelight at the bottom of the outlet.  Not only are they childproof, but you gain an outlet back and nighttime lighting.  Each outlet contains a sensor which turns the light on and off based on the light conditions or you can set it to high or low, and it costs mere pennies a day to use.  It’s so much brighter than the previous blue nightlights we were using, but not too bright if my older son gets up during the night to use the bathroom.

We also tested the Snap Power Charger, which allows you to convert your outlet to a USB charger, without losing the outlet.  We have a lot of tech in our house – and sometimes our home charging dock is full – or I might just want to plug in my iPhone if it’s running low on battery.  Installation for this was simple as well – the outlet screw provides the connection to power with the power prongs providing power and you simply snap on the cover.

For purposes of the review – I have used both the SnapPower SafeLight and Snap Power USB Charger for over a month – and I honestly love them.  I love that I don’t need to fiddle with plastic outlet covers if I need to do a quick vacuum of the playroom or worry about coming down the stairs in the dark.  When I use the SnapPower SafeLight I simply insert the plug of whatever item I want to use,slide the outlet covers over and am on my way.  When I am done, I unplug and don’t have to worry any longer about putting something else back into the outlet or fiddling with putting the cover back on.

The SnapPower Guidelight and SnapPower USB Charger work on standard outlets – they do not work with GFCI outlets due to the need for a reset button – so you can’t use them in the kitchen or bathrooms.  I would love to see this in the future although I am sure it will require a redesign of some sort.

Overall, this has been a fantastic solution for night time lighting, childproofing and charging for our family.  I love how easy it is to access my outlets now and don’t worry my toddler will see me removing one of the plastic outlet covers and try to do so himself potentially resulting in a hazard.  Simple.  Easy.  A must have product in my home. Items can be purchased directly from SnapPower or via Amazon.

RRP of SnapPower Safe Light is $17.00 USD for a single or 10 for $140 USD.

RRP of the SnapPower USB charger is $20 USD for a single or a three pack for $54 USD.

all>NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
Review of Circuit Scribe Electronics Kits and Giveaway for a Maker Kit – #STEM

Review of Circuit Scribe Electronics Kits and Giveaway for a Maker Kit – #STEM

BOSTON, MA - MAY 25.  Ryan Martin (left) of Boston and Jonas Gillespie (8) of Ithaca, NY happily observe the successful completion of an electronic circuit to power a moter. Martin is one of the members of an Electroninks outreach team that provided instruction and encouragement to children exploring circuit design using "Circuit Scribe" conductive ink and electronic components at Boston's Museum of Science.  Lori K. Sanders/Cambridge, MA.

Circuit Scribe Kits provide a great introduction to electronics. They teach kids about the basics of electronics whilst having them build a series of projects, which makes learning fun! There is no need to learn to solder when creating the projects- you simply use the included conductive silver ink pen to draw the wires and make connections. I recently got the opportunity to test out the CircuitScribe Ultimate Kit and found that it was a great addition to our Homeschool curriculum.

Review

The Circuit Scribe kits consist of a variety of electronic components as a series of magnetic modules, a workbook, a steel sheet, a circuit stencil and a conductive silver ink pen.  The Ultimate Kit contains over 30 components, plus instructions for lots of projects.

 

The Modules are color coded:

Input e.g. switch =red

Output e.g. LED =yellow

Connection e.g. transistor =grey

Power e.g. battery =blue

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Workbook

The Workbook contains lots of projects and they are color-coded so that you know at a glance which projects are compatible with the Basic or Maker or Ultimate kits. All projects can be completed using the Ultimate kit, most can be done with the Maker kit but the Basic kit can do less.

The steel sheet is used to place between pages of the workbook and acts as a magnetic backdrop for the projects. It also acts as a glossary of symbols and abbreviations used for describing electronic circuits and components.

For each project the student learns the theory behind the project, sees a circuit diagram for the project, then draws in the indicated wires using the silver ink pen.  They are encouraged to use some artistic flare rather than just tracing along the lines. Once they have drawn the required wires they can place the  modules in the indicated spots and they will magnetically stick to the steel sheet through the paper connecting to the silver ink wires as they do so. It takes a little practice to draw the wires so that they will conduct electricity well- you need to make the lines nice and thick without any breaks, but even if you don’t get them perfect the first time you can just add more ink to reinforce any areas of weakness.

As they work through the projects students learn the characteristics of different types of electrical components, how to create and read circuit diagrams.  As the students learn about the components they are encouraged to be creative and design their own circuits. The Ultimate kit is even contains connectors that allow you to use it with Arduino and Raspberry Pi (not included), and has a sample Arduino project.

Summary

Not only do Circuit Scribe kits provide projects to do, but they also teach the basics of electronics. Students learn about electrical components such as resistors, potentiometers and switches, plus they learn to draw circuit diagrams as well as build projects. This is a great kit for homeschooling families as it has students learning about physics, electricity and electronics in a hands on way. It is also a fun introduction to electronics for ages 10- adult – I know I learned from using it! Highly recommended #STEM gift.

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Maker Kit Giveaway

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Thanks to Circuit Scribe One lucky reader of The iMums can win a Circuit Scribe kit of their own- we have a Maker Kit to give away (RRP $79.99)

The Maker Kit contains 17 electronic components and instructions for a variety of projects.

Maker Kit Contains:

11 Modules:

  • 9V Battery adapter with 9V battery
  • x2 Bi-LED
  • SPST Switch
  • NPN Transistor
  • 2-Pin Adapter with 5x resistors (100, 1k, 10k, 100k and 1M ohm), 2x capacitors (0.1uF, 1.0uF), and one photoresistor (10k ohms)
  • Potentiometer – 10k ohms
  • Blinker
  • Buzzer
  • RGB LED
  • Light Sensor

Additional Items:

  • Conductive Ink Pen
  • Circuit Stencil
  • Jumper Sticker Sheet
  • Workbook
  • Steel sheet

Available from CircuitScribe.comAmazon and other retailers for US$79.99,

 

 

Giveaway

If you would like to win a Maker kit from Circuit Scribe ($79.99 value), please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to USA ONLY and a valid mailing address is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
17 Terrific Tech Gifts

17 Terrific Tech Gifts

With Black Friday coming up very soon, the rush begins to get our loved ones the perfect Xmas or Holiday gift. At The iMums we love seeing all the great new technology that is being created, and seeing how the connected home is evolving year upon year.  We have been busy creating all our Holiday Gift Guides to showcase some of our favorite products and help you choose the perfect gift for your loved ones. Here are 17 of our favorite Tech products for the adults on your gift list, be sure to also check out our kids gift guide, our gifts for health and wellness, our gifts for parents and our gifts under $30.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

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Orbi- Whole House Wi-Fi

rbk50_lifestyle_livingroom_00820_medresThe single most important thing to keep all our connected home, computing and entertainment technology working well is a strong internet signal. With all the connected devices a typical household has competing for bandwidth, it is important to have a great router to optimize your Wi-Fi signal. The Orbi Home Wi-Fi system is designed to meet high demands for Wi-Fi connectivity, and comes with a base unit and a satellite. It is a mesh Wi-Fi system with a difference- the world’s first Tri-Band Wi-Fi system that has one channel dedicated entirely to connecting the router base unit and the satellite. What this means in practical terms it is delivers fast internet speeds without dead spots over a 4,000 square foot area. It is also incredibly easy to set up. As you move around your home your devices automatically switch to whichever unit is giving you the best signal, and the dedicated channel makes sure the Wi-Fi from the satellite is as strong as from the router. The Orbi router and satellite create a single high speed network where your devices can move between bands and to different parts of the home without ever having to reconnect. I love how the Orbi has eliminated Wi-Fi dead spots from my home, even in hard to reach areas where the signal has to go through interior and exterior walls. Available from Amazon,  Best Buy and other retailers  RRP US$399

 

SingleCue Gen 2

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Until recently the idea you could control your home entertainment with the hand movement was the stuff of science fiction but with SingleCue it is a reality. The newly released 2nd generation Singlecue allows you to control your TV and a whole host of other devices including Media Streamers such as AppleTV, Roku and Hulu; Cable TV boxes, audio systems; soundbars, and even your Nest Thermostat or Phillips Hue lightbulbs.  A full list of compatible devices can be found here, it doesn’t yet work with game consoles or DVD players but the manufacturer is working on adding new devices (Nest was only added this month.) You can set up shortcuts for your favorite combinations such as turning on your TV & Apple TV together and automatically switching the TV to the right output for the AppleTV. You can also mute your TV instantly with a simple ssh gesture.  You don’t need to wear any special ring or have anything in your hand, it is all controlled via simple finger movements picked up from the SingleCue box. SingleCue is a really cool device for your living room and saves hours of hunting under the sofa cushions for lost remotes! Available from Amazon for US$149

 

Sengled Pulse Link

sengledWith TV screens getting bigger and bigger we often find ourselves sitting further from the screen for an optimal viewing experience but that can lead to a less than optimal audio experience. The Sengled Pulse link is a simple solution providing surround sound without the need to wire in new speakers. The Sengled Pulse link starter set combines 2 products- a pair of Sengled Pulse Bulbs and a Pulse Link. The Pulse is an innovative smart bulb which combines a dimmable LED light and a JBL Bluetooth Speaker. The Link is a box that connects to your TV, via included 3.5mm or RCA cables. and allows it to remotely connect with the Pulse bulbs. They work with the Pulse app allowing you to control your lights from the app, listen to your TV through the Pulse JBL speakers and play music via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet. A really simple, flexible way to bring surround sound to your living room and play audio from your TV or audio device to JBL speakers . Available from Amazon for US$179.99

 

Petcube Play

petcubeplay The newly released Petcube Play might just be the ideal gift for the pet lover on your list. This new version of the Petcube is more compact and has an upgraded 1080 HD camera with night vision, 2 way audio and 3x digital zoom. It also features a built-in laser pointer controlled via the Petcube app so you can play with your pets when you are away from home, keeping them active and entertained. Even when your schedule is busy you can still get them playing by using the autoplay mode. The camera can recotrd 24/7 and for an extra fee you can subscribe to Petcube care for 10 or 30 day storage of recording history. Available from  Petcube.comAmazon , Best Buy and major retailers RRP US$199 BLACK FRIDAY SALE $50 OFF! $149

 

Drop Connected Scale

drop1The Drop Connected Scale is the perfect gift for the home baker or chef. The smart scale connects to the Drop Recipes app on your iPad or iPhone. Drop Recipes is an interactive cookbook with hundreds of tested recipes for Cooking, Baking and Cocktails. The Drop Scale weighs your ingredients accurately and can scale a recipe based on how much of an ingredient you have on hand. If you are out of an ingredient I will suggest substitutions, and there is even a community section in the app where users can upload and share their own recipes. Available from Amazon, Target and other retailers from  RRP $99.99 Currently US$78.99 at Amazon

 

Arlo Pro by NETGEAR

animated-arloIf you know someone who wants to keep a secure eye on their home inside or out, but wants the freedom to quickly and easily install cameras with the minimum of fuss the new Arlo Pro system from NETGEAR is a great gift. Like the original Arlo the cameras are totally wireless and mount via magnetic ball and socket style joint- making them a snap to install and move. The new Pro cameras run on rechargeable batteries with a staggering 5 MONTH battery life in normal use! The cameras are weatherproof and  have 2 way audio, night vision, motion detection, 130° camera angle, a smart siren, local backup option plus 7 days free cloud storage. A great gift for use in or outside the home  – for home security, watching a babies room, checking on a pet or elderly relative when you are away from home or a myriad of other uses. Available from  Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers systems from US$249

 

JBL Pulse 2  Portable Speaker + Light Show

jblpulse2The JBL Pulse 2 is a great sounding. splash proof,  portable speaker  with colorful light effects that make it fun to take the music with you where ever you go. It has a battery life of up to 10 hours and you can use it as a standalone speaker, or wirelessly connect multiple speakers via the JBL connect app. The Pulse2 can be used to answer calls and connect to Siri or Google Now. I really enjoy its interactive light show, which is also controlled via the JBL Connect app.  There are 8 different light shows to choose from including fire, rain, fireflies, stars, fireworks, traffic, hourglass and canvas- where you draw the light pattern. You can interact with each of the shows, for instance increasing the size of the flames, or the intensity of the rain or adding shooting stars. Many of the light shows also have accompanying sound effects. If you switch off the music you can listen to the sound of a fire crackling or rain pouring down as the light show mirrors the sounds. You can also change the light color to match a color in your environment by scanning it with the light sensor.  The Pulse2 is a 84mm diameter x 195mm tall (approx 3″ x 7.7″)  and weighs 775gm (approx 1.7lb)  A great gift for the music lover, this speaker sounds great, has a good battery life and some really fun interactive light shows with accompanying sound effects. Available from  JBL.COM, Amazon and other retailers RRP US$199.99 (currently on sale for $119.95)

 

Royole Moon 3D Virtual Mobile Theater

moon_airplane-closeupFor the movie lover or serious gamer the Royole Moon 3D Virtual Mobile Theater is the ultimate gift. With the Royole Moon you can enjoy an immersive 3D cinema or gaming experience anywhere you wish. Two Full HD 1080p AMOLED displays at over 3000 ppi resolution simulate a giant 800” curved screen with stereoscopic 3D, and active noise cancelling headphones complete the experience. Moon’s screen is scalable, allowing full control over the screen size for a personalized viewing experience. It features a patented foldable design, ultra-soft headphone covers, and a premium breathable eye cover to ensure comfort even after long periods of continuous use. It also includes 32GB of internal storage and battery life of up to 5 hours of continuous video playback. Advanced optics allow most eyeglass wearers to enjoy Moon without their corrective lenses. Available www.royole.com and Amazon  MSRP  $799

 

01: The World’s First Dimensioning Instrument

instrumments_01_main_hero_rgb01 from InstruMMents is  billed as the world’s first dimensioning instrument. This makes it a great gift for anyone who wants to easily measure things- crafters, home handymen, and anyone who wants to design or create .01 rolls over straight, curved or contoured objects to intuitively capture, log, and share dimensions. Elegantly carved in aluminum, 01 is contained within a pen, pencil or stylus, and wirelessly connects to smartphones. Although it is currently being launched via Indiegogo it is already fully functioning and due to ship in time for the holidays.  Available from Instrumments.com or Indiegogo from US$159

Custom Made iPad or iPhone case from Dodo Cases

dodo-case-ipadair2_grandeEvery tablet or smartphone deserves a case to protect it. A really personalized gift is to have a case custom created just for your loved one’s iPhone or iPad. Dodo Cases is a San Francisco-based company that uses traditional book binding techniques to create iPad and iPhone cases, and offers a custom case making service. For the iPad cases you can choose from a range of solid or patterned fabrics or 4 colors of leather. You can choose a single or two-tone exterior. For the interior fabric you can choose from a variety of solid colors or patterns or  from a selection of city maps. The maps are a great way to personalize if you choose a city that has particular significance to the recipient. You can add final touches by picking the color of elastic and even have a name or message embossed on the front on gold or black letters. A truly one-of-a-kind gift! Available from DoDoCases.com custom iPhone cases start from $49.99 and custom iPad cases from $79.99.

 

SanDisk iXpand Flash storage for iPhone and iPad

ixpand1A problem most iPhone and iPad users suffer from is lack of storage space- unlike Android phones you can’t just slip in a micro-SD card to increase storage and it costs a lot to buy iOS devices with large amounts of internal storage. The iXpand Flash drive from SanDisk is a simple solution to this problem.  It is a very small, light flash drive that connects via the Lightning port of your iOS device.  It is very easy to transfer content from your iOS device to the drive to create space and you can then use its USB connector to transfer them to your computer. You can also set it up to automatically backup your camera roll whenever it s connected. If you are traveling and want to take a movie with you, you can load it on the drive from your computer and watch it directly on your device without ever downloading it ! It has a flexible connector that allows it to be used with most cases, and is available in 32GB, 64GB and 128 GB versions.  Available from Amazon and other retailers  from US$59.99

 

RazorPlatinum Powerbank from MyCharge

razorplatimunumOne of the cool features about the new MacBooks is that they can now to powered via a USB-C instead of needing a proprietary Mac charger. This opens up more possibilities for charging on the go. The new RazorPlatinum Powerbank from MyCharge has a built-in USB-C port and enough power to recharge a MacBook as well as USB-A port for your other devices. This 13400mAh Lithium Polymer battery has ultra fast charging and recharging. It measures 6.5 in x 4.8 in x 1.1 in and weighs in at under 1lb, making it very small and light for a battery of this capacity. Available from MyCharge.com and Best Buy for US$99.99

 

Amazon Echo

echoOne noticeable trend in the Connected Home market in 2016 is that more and more connected home devices are having Amazon Alexa integration . This means that if you have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot you can control them via your voice. The Amazon Echo is a pretty cool device all by itself but with the integration of other connected home devices its uses keep multiplying. The Echo has immersive 360º omni-directional audio with far-field voice recognition so it can hear you from across the room even while music is playing. It plays all your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice, and controls a whole host of connected home devices. Echo also answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and lets you shop on Amazon using the Alexa Voice Service. Available from Amazon  for US$179.99 BLACK FRIDAY SALE $139.99

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo DotIf you already have a speaker system in the room you are using your Echo in, you may prefer to get the more affordable Echo Dot, as it can connect to your existing speakers via a 3.5mm cable. Apart from the large speaker it has all the other features of its bigger brother the Amazon Echo. Like the Echo it has far-field voice recognition and can plays your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more. It also controls a whole host of connected home devices, answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and lets you shop on Amazon using the Alexa Voice Service. It has a small built-in speaker and you can use Echo Dots in multiple rooms to provide Alexa enabled control throughout the home. The Echo Dot is Available from Amazon for US$49.99 BLACK FRIDAY SALE $39.99 and is also available in 3 packs at a $20 savings or six packs where you buy 5 and get one free.

 

SMARTvr Virtual Reality Viewer from Dodo Case

shopify_smartvr-hero_grandeWith the invention of Google Cardboard there is more and more Virtual Reality content becoming available in iTunes and Google Play stores. This is great as it means more people can access Virtual Reality content without needing to buy an expensive VR headset like the Oculus Rift.   SMARTvr is a great way to access the content made available by Google cardboard on your smartphone, but using a more stylish and durable viewer than the original Cardboard. If fits most iOS and Android smartphones and folds to a flat package about the size of an iPhone 5  when not in use. The case is made from cast aluminum and ballistic nylon with a microsuede lens cover & light blocking shield. It is Google Cardboard certified and really simple to use You just unfold it, scan the QR code to link, slip the phone into the clips on the back, fold down the light shield, and you are ready to enjoy your VR apps. It is a great VR viewer- compact, portable, durable, affordable and flexible to fit different size smartphones

Available from DodoCase.com for US$39.99

Lightning Audio + Charge Rockstar from Belkin

 

belkin_lightningaudiochargerockstar_1 The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus no longer have an audio jack as they are designed to use Bluetooth headphones. However, not everyone likes Bluetooth headphones, so there are several new headphones on the market that use the iPhone’s Lightning connector as an innovative way around the problem. This does however create a new problem- if your battery starts to run low you can’t charge the phone and continue to use your Lightning headphones at the same time. Belkin has solved this problem with the Lightning Audio Charge Rockstar which doubles your Lightning ports – providing one for listening and one for charging. RRP $39.99  Available from Belkin.com, Apple and other retailers.

VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite

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Do you have a friend or relative who still has lots of home videos lying around on VHS tapes or on camcorder tapes? This could be the perfect gift for them. Tapes deteriorate over time and it becomes harder and harder to find ways to play them, so its important to get them transferred to digital formats or you may lose the content entirely. Instead of taking them in to be professionally copied (which can be cost prohibitive if you have a lot of tapes to transfer) you can convert them at home with VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite. To use VIDBOX you need a VCR or camcorder that can play your tapes, and a Mac or PC. The Video Conversion suite comes with a key to download the software or you can install it via the included CD-Rom. The VIDBOX little white box is the key to connecting your video output device to the computer. You wire it to your VCR/ camcorder via RCA to RCA cables (included) or RCA to S-Cable (not included) and connect it to your computer via the included USB cable. Once it is connected launch the VIDBOX software and follow the on screen instructions. The video will record as a digital file on your computer in real time as it plays on your VCR/ camcorder. Once the recording is finished you can preview it and save to iMovie or iTunes (on Mac). The Video conversion suite includes software for both Mac and PC or you can buy Mac or PC only versions for slightly less. Available from VIDBOX.COM or Amazon RRP Suite $99.99 or PC or Mac only $79.99. Suite currently $69.99 on Amazon


For additional gift ideas check out all our Holiday Gift Guides

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Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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