Gear

Hands on Review of the Jelly Comb Mini Bluetooth Keyboard, Rechargeable Handheld Remote Control Wireless Mini Keyboard

This might be the best $20 gadget I have tested out yet. This is a Hands on Review of the Jelly Comb Mini Bluetooth ; It’s a rechargeable Handheld Remote Control Wireless Mini Keyboard that is light, easy to use and works great in tough situations. The Bluetooth technology provides a cable-free & clutter-free connection and has an operating distance of about 10 meters. In my home, I had a tough time getting it out of range when using ; Great for a media center PC or like us, a touchscreen PC we have mounted on the wall in the ; Handy to have around for those moments when you really just need a keyboard
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Reviews & How-To

Top Home Tech Integration to Consider in Your Next Remodel

Top Home Tech Integration to Consider in Your Next Remodel   By Ryan Martin from – Guest Writer While you’re preparing to renovate your living space, go beyond brainstorming how you want your home to look. Think about how you want it to perform and function. Home automation can make your daily life simpler and your surroundings more intuitive, allowing you to spend less time thinking about convenience, comfort, and even safety—and spend more time doing the things you ; There’s never a more opportune time to integrate home tech than during a remodel. Home Improvement Leads is here to help you discover top-of-the-line applications and appliances to add to your ;
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Home Tech

How Can Solar Power Improve Our Future

If you listen to Home Gadget Geeks much, you know I am a big fan of solar ; While it is still too expensive and not cost effective here in Nebraska (getting better) it is catching on in places around the world and costs are dropping ; I think someday we will be able to get most if not all of our energy from renewable ; I was contacted by the Solar Action Alliance about partnering with them on a blog ; Below is the ; Would love your feedback on articles like ; Keep doing it?  Different topics?  Send me a note at Enjoy!
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Reviews & How-To

Five Gadgets To Help You Play Pokémon Go

By Emily Prokop from ; – Guest Writer Think Pokémon Go is going to get you out of the house and away from your gadgets? Think again! Don’t let the great outdoors stop you from looking for excuses to sneak a few more Amazon boxes on your front porch. Here are five gadgets to help you in your quest to catch ‘em all! Anker PowerCore 13400 Portable Charger While keeping the Pokémon Go app open all day while searching for Charmander  may not make a huge dent in your data plan, thankfully, it is a quick drain on your battery life. Carry around a portable charger, like the Anker PowerCore 13000, which I bought for my husband for Father’s Day, but am the current keeper of now that I am obsessed with actually leaving the comfort of my house in search of new Pokémon. At full power, the Anker PowerCore 13000 charges an iPhone 6s 5 times, a Galaxy S6 times or an iPad Air 2 once — you know, in case you decide to maybe check a work email now and then. Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch If playing one game isn’t enough, challenge your friends daily to increase their step counts and keep track of all that walking around you’re doing while waiting for your eggs to hatch. Since the pedometer within Pokémon Go tracks distance traveled under 20 miles per hour, you can’t just quickly drive for a few minutes to hatch your 10k egg. Luckily, you can walk, run or bike to get those kilometers in. Using the Fitbit, you can track all these activities, monitor your heart rate, and map your routes using the Fitbit Blaze. Of course, the day before I downloaded Pokémon Go, I accidentally put my Fitbit Zip through the washing machine … twice. So I may be in the market for an upgrade, and the watch seems like a great upgrade! Portable Mosquito Repellent by Buzz Off Coming home after a long day of catching Pokémon with some Butterfrees, Beedrills and Scythers is awesome (I swear, Jim, I’m not making these names up!). But, coming home with bug bites from real-life pests can be a pain when you’re exhausted and trying to sleep, but find yourself wide awake scratching your ankles tirelessly. Avoid the not-so-pleasant smell of bug spray and prevent mosquito bites with the harmless and eco-friendly mosquito repellent gadget that runs on one AA battery. It’s tiny enough to fit in your bag or clip to your pocket, too. Headlamp Flashlight + 2x Safety Armbands Look, it may seem like a geeky thing to suggest, but according to the great and all-knowing Internet, some of the rare Pokémon come out at night! The sun doesn’t have to go down on your fun if you have some light to help you maneuver around. Plus, the Safety Armbands will help you avoid the ire of drivers who may not see you while you collect more Pokeballs at the Pokestops along your route. Note: These should not take the place of practicing caution while playing Pokémon Go. Remember, you shouldn’t have to go into buildings, onto private property or down dark alleys if there is a Pokémon nearby. In fact, most rewards you receive and places on the map are public property. But, again, always take caution and use good judgment while playing Pokémon Go. Sennheiser OCX 686G Sports Ear-Canal Ear Hook Headset (Android/iPhone) Don’t let being away from home keep you from listening to Home Gadget Geeks (or, you know, Classy Little Podcast if you’ve run out of shows on the Average Guy Network). Use that time outdoors wisely and catch up with your favorite podcasts with this headset to keep out ambient noise designed with comfort, water resistance, durability and hygiene in mind. In all honesty, I don’t know earbuds. I use cheap $5 ones from Five Below because I have a tendency to loose them so frequently, but The Wirecutter recommends these, which means my tech-geek husband recommends these, as well. Hope you’re all enjoying your game! And don’t forget sunscreen — that bright thing in the sky we gadget geeks have been avoiding for years is meaner than a Raticate on my pasty fair skin! (Also, go Team Valor!)
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Reviews & How-To

Hands on Review for the Elgato Video Capture

By Dan Brown – Guest Writer Found at Amazon at ; Like many people we collected several movies over the years on VHS tape. Many of these are Disney moves or other kid movies. Our kids are now adults and have moved out of our house, but we do anticipate that they will soon marry and we will have grandchildren around that might want to watch those movies. Ideally we would simply keep the tapes around and play them on the VCR when the grandkids are around. However, our VCR no longer works, and it is no longer possible to buy a new one. They are available at garage sales or thrift stores for as little as $5, but I don’t trust electronic gear from a thrift store to last. Another issue is that we would prefer to not have to store all of the tapes when they will not be watched all that often. A better solution is to copy the tapes off to a digital format that can be stored on my storage server. That means that I need a tool that can take the analog output from a VCR (I borrowed one from my father-in-law) and input that to a PC where it can be converted to an MP4 format. The tool that I used is the Elegato Video Capture. The Elgato Video Capture is compatible with both Mac and PC. I used it on a Windows 10 PC. The box that the tool came in contains the hardware and instruction printed on the box, but no software. The instructions explain how to connect the device to the VCR or other video source. Then the device is connected to the PC via a USB port. After the PC recognizes the device the instructions say to download and install the video capture software from their website. And then lastly, launch the application and follow the instructions. I followed these instructions and found that I could not get the application to access the device. I very quickly however realized that the device was not going to work on the PC that I was trying to use. I wanted to use an older Netbook PC to do the capture. This would have allowed me to dedicate the PC to this task until I completed all of my tapes. It was at this point that I realized that this device will only work with a USB port. There is nothing in the instructions that state this, and the plug itself is not blue like most USB plus are. But as soon as I plugged it into my desktop PC with a USB port everything worked correctly. The software that installs after it is downloaded is very simple to use. It walks you through naming your file, configuring the video input and audio input, and then provides a big red button to begin the capture. During the capture it displays the video being captures and allows you to listen to the audio or mute the audio being captured. The software does have the option to automatically stop the capture after a specified amount of time. I did use that function when I was working on something not related to my computer, or if I wanted to go to bed and let it run overnight. I could start the video, start the capture and then come back to the PC later. The VCR would be stopped, the tape rewound, and the capture software waiting patiently for me to finish up. The last step in the capture process is to set trim points at the start and finish of the file. That allows you to start the capture right away, set the capture to stop at some point after the length of the move, and then simply trip the beginning and end of the file to leave only movie that you set out to convert to MP4. I did have one issue with the software. However, I don’t know if many other people will have the same issue. My wife and I share this computer and I have us set up so that each of us have a local account and we switch between users as needed when we change users. Normally one of us will simply get up and the other will switch users leaving everything the other was doing running. We tried to do this with the video capture running and found that it did not continue to run correctly. Apparently the video capture needs to run as the active user. Everything else that we normally run is fine to go into the background. The video capture does function correctly in the background of the active users. I would routinely start the capture and then minimize it to the task bar while I proceeded to work on other things. This review was made possible by The Average Guy Tech Scholarship ; When you purchase from Amazon, use
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Reviews & How-To

Hands On Review of the Intel Compute Stick Windows BOXSTCK1A32WFC: Episode II

By Bill Rockhold – Guest Writer Intel Compute Stick: Episode II In my last post on the Intel Compute Stick, ,  I had run into a couple of difficulties, but it had ended with a positive feeling. That didn’t last, shortly afterward the fit started to hit the shan. Windows 10 Install I had upgraded from Windows to Windows 10, which had seamed to go without any issues, but afterward I started to have some problems. I installed Handbrake, to use as a benchmark on CPU power. The app would crash every time I tried to run it. I have never had any problems running Handbrake on any computer before. I tried reinstalling the app, but I didn’t have any better success, so I dropped it to moved on to other things that I wanted to test. Back to Windows 7 Next I was going to install Windows 7 to see how Windows Media Center performed on the Compute Stick, but there was a big gotcha here. The USB flash drive installer wouldn’t even boot on the Compute Stick. The problem comes down to that the Compute Stick uses UEFI firmware and 32 bit Windows 7 only supports BIOS firmware machines. While researching the problem, I found that Microsoft had responded to the problem of installing Win7 on UEFI hardware by telling people to put the machine in BIOS mode. The Compute Stick doesn’t have a BIOS mode. I did find that there is a hack to install the 64bit version of Windows 7 on UEFI hardware, but nothing for 32 bit. I thought of trying to install Windows 7 on a different computer and then coping a drive image to the Compute Stick, but I didn’t want to go there and it is definitely beyond what an average user would try. I also thought about trying to install 64bit Windows using the hack, but seeing that Intel’s firmware seems to be picky on what Operating Systems it will allow to boot, I decided I wasn’t going to waste the time trying. Of course Microsoft had just discontinued Media Center for Windows a week or so before, so going back to Win and installing the PRO pack wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere ether. So the Media Center test is a write off. Next I installed an application called MatterControl which is my preferred app for controlling my 3D printer. The app installed fine and I was able to manually control the printer, but when ever I tried to start printing an object, the app would crash. I now had two apps that had never given me any problems on any other machine crashing on the Compute Stick. I decided to do a clean install of Windows 10 to make sure there wasn’t a problem with the upgrade. There have been reports of people having issues after doing the upgrade to Windows 10. I setup the Windows 10 installer on a USB flash drive and tried to do a clean install, but I couldn’t get the install to start. I tried it on another UEFI computer and the installer worked. So I decided to try to see where the recovery and repair tools would get me. Window’s tools wouldn’t allow me to do a recovery and when I tried to run a repair, it wouldn’t complete. I next tried the Windows 10 reset feature. I let it run for a day and a half before I rebooted the device and I ended up killing the installation completely. At this point I had completely toasted the operating system to the point that it wouldn’t even boot to the repair tools. Bricked? So the Compute Stick was all but bricked; I couldn’t get any version of Windows to install, even a Windows 32 bit version. This is where I’m thankful that I had used Ubuntu to make an image of the original installation when I first received the Compute Stick. I marked the UEFI setting change to boot Ubuntu and put the image file on a flash drive and went through the process of writing it back to the internal storage. It did take almost a day to complete, but it did competed. An after I switched back the OS boot setting I tried to boot windows and it failed with a problem with the boot sector. But I was able to get the Windows 10 repair tools from the USB installer to perform a repair on the boot sector and after a reboot Windows came up just like when I first got the Compute Stick. After all of this I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed with this device now. It performs well enough for what it is, but I think Intel cut too many corners when making this device. They seem to be trying to lock it to only a couple of selected operating systems and in the process making it difficult to install any other Operating System and then not providing any form of recovery software, not even at an extra cost. I’m at the point where I wouldn’t recommend the Compute Stick for any one who wants to do anything other than surf the web or stream video from Netflix or the like. For techie people who like to fiddle with the things, the Compute Stick makes things harder than they need to be. I haven’t totally given up yet. Now that I have Windows back on the device I’m going to try Handbrake and MatterContol again. I would still like to have a low power device to drive my 3D printer.
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Reviews & How-To

Hands on Review of the Summer Infant WideView Digital Color Video Baby Monitor

By Kyle Wilcox – Guest Writer As part of the Average Guy Tech Scholarship fund found at , I had three three baby monitors that I considered for the review: Angelcare AC1120 Video and Sound Monitor – Summer Infant Wide View Digital Color Video Baby Monitor – Motorola MBP33S Wireless Video Baby Monitor with Color LCD, Zoom and Enhanced Two-Way Audio – All three models seemed fairly similar and as of January 2016, each was selling for around $110. The decision to go with the Summer unit came down to the fact that it had a larger screen. First impressions are that while the WideView is made of plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy the way some plastic products do. In the box you will find two power cords and they each have an icon on them indicating either the camera or the monitor unit. I plugged both in right away and got the video feed immediately. There was no pairing or other work necessary to get working. I browsed through the instruction manual and noted that it said to charge the monitor for 4-5 hours before first use. I just started using it right away. The Summer WideView is capable of connecting up to three additional cameras. I only have the one included camera and for my intended purposes, I don’t see a need to use more than that. The instructions show some basic things the monitor can do, but overall, the functionality is very simple and with the well labeled buttons, there is little to no use for the instructions unless you need to add another camera. In fact, there is a menu button on the monitor, and its sole purpose is to add, remove, or change cameras. I won’t be needing the menu button.   The monitor: I like that it is a widescreen format, measuring 5” diagonally. The screen resolution is pretty terrible when comparing it to your modern smartphone, but for a baby monitor, it should be fine. The kick stand is solid and functional, though it doesn’t allow the unit to tip back very far. On the right hand side is a zoom button, flanked on either side by brightness control buttons. There are only two zoom options: press the button once, and the camera zooms in, press it again and it returns to the original position. The brightness buttons just have up and down arrows on them, so it is not immediately clear what they are for, but pressing them brings up an onscreen symbol showing the brightness level, and you can see the picture increasing or decreasing in brightness. These brightness options should be more than sufficient for almost all lighting conditions that a baby monitor would be used in. The top right-hand side has clearly marked volume buttons. Top left is the power/menu button, and the left side has a button to activate the microphone. The charger also connects on the left side. Based on initial testing, it appears that the video quality will be sufficient for use as a baby monitor. You can see the child clearly enough to identify facial expressions. The camera also has a night vision mode that functions well in all but the darkest rooms. The most disappointing aspect of the baby monitor is the audio portion. The camera has microphone on it, and from what I can tell, there is no way to turn it off. Even in a room with no noticeable noise, the microphone still picks up a lot of background noise. On the monitor, this produces a very annoying static sound. I have just resorted to turning the volume down to silent. The product also mentions that you can use the microphone on the monitor to calm down your child by speaking to your child from the other room. However, this audio quality is also very bad and I can’t imagine a child finding it soothing; most likely they won’t even recognize your voice. There is one useful thing about the audio. Above video screen are lights that show the volume level in the room with the camera. This feature works even if the volume is turned all the way down. The lights turn on from left to right and turn from green to red. If you see all the lights on and red, your child is making a lot of noise. You can turn the video screen on and get a better picture of what that noise might be. Part 2 of this review will come as we actually use the monitor with our ; More to come…
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