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.
Magicstick is a 2800mAh battery (Amazon purchase that supports The Average Guy Tech Scholarship Fund: ) with a nice, simple design. The first thing you notice about the Magicstick 2800mAh is how solid and well built it feels. It is not heavy, only oz., but the device has heft. The casing is made of brushed aluminum, (mine was charcoal), and feels quite sturdy. It comes in quite a few colors (my favorite is red). On the charging end of the cylinder there are two ports, micro USB port is for charging the Magicstick, leaving the standard USB for charging your electronic device. The other end of the cylinder is a soft white button that acts as an indicator light. In addition to the Magicstick, the packaging came with a short USB to micro USB cable as well as a drawstring pouch for and standard USB. When I put the Magicstick on the charger I usually use for my HTC One, the button/indictor light turned red indicating that it was not completely charged. I left it overnight on the charger. When I checked it in the morning, the light had turned blue, indicating a full charge. Over the next week, I experimented with it, charging my HTC One, my wife’s iPhone 5s and my Nokia Lumia 520. The device worked great. I usually put my phones on the charger for an hour or two while at work, instead I used the Magicstick to “top off” my phone. The manufacturer claims it will charge your device as quickly as if it were plugged into a wall charger. My experience was that claim may be slightly exaggerated. Performance was good, but not quite as good as a wall charger. Leaving the charger in a drawer with my phone worked well. When trying to charge my phone with the battery in my pocket did not work as well. The charging was fine, but I was constantly worried about the cable bending or breaking off in my phone. The Lumia 520 is a much smaller phone than my HTC one or my wife’s iPhone, so it was easier to charge this way. This is not a draw back of the Magicstick specifically since other than a battery case specific to your device would solve the charging in your pocket problem. Carrying the battery around in a front or back pocket was comfortable. Several times I forgot that I was even carrying the battery around at all. I have used several other external batteries, VAAS 5000mAh Dual Port and Mophie Juice Pack #160; I generally use these when I travel, especially camping, when finding a way to charge devices can be tricky. As backup battery, for those days when you need a little extra, this versatile, lightweight and solidly built battery would be an excellent choice. Christopher Brown is a guest writer for and can found at Powerocks USA, a portable charging solution for your mobile devices, has a sleek and stylish product called the Magicstick and provided the review unit for this review.
Let’s use this post to share information on deals we are interested in for Black Friday 2013. Please add your deals in the comment section below, I will move them into the post. I gather most of my info from; Also, feel free to post your wish list. Maybe we can help you find a deal on something you are searching for! Target Nook 7″ for $ Vizio 47″ LED TV $ iPad Air WiFi 16GB $479 plus $100 gift card. $100 gift card offer good on all iPads Radio Shack Lumia 520, case and 8GB SD card for $ Sandisk 32GB USB drive $ Brother P-Touch Label Printer $ Auvo Color HeadPhones $ Dell Inspiron 15 $199 Entry level Celeron Inspiron One 20 $349 Entry level AIO with touch Walmart iPad mini WiFi 16GB $299 plus $100 gift card with purchase HP 14″ Touchsmart Laptop $278 Best Buy Microsoft Surface RT $ Pebble Smart Watch $ plus a $20 gift card OfficeMax Sennheiser PX 360 headphones $ HP TouchSmart 14″ laptop $ Emtec 64GB USB drive $ PNY USB drives 64GB-$, 128GB-$ Offic Depot Brother label maker $ Staples Kindle Fire $79 SanDisk Blade 32GB USB drive $ SanDisk Cruzer USB drives 16GB-$, 32GB-$, 64GB-$, 128GB-$ SanDisk 32GB microSDHC $ Toshiba 1TB USB 3 drive $ Samsung 24″ monitor $ AOC 27″ monitor $ Kevin Schoonover @schoondoggy1979
Ematic entered the market with low-cost android tablet designs. Their original 7 inch tablet was very low performance and was not well received. Currently they have a higher performance 7 inch tablet that sells for $89 and comes in a variety of colors. The release of an 8 inch tablet intrigued me. I have found 7 inch tablets to be a little small for my use case. I have experimented with several low-cost tablets in the past and have always been disappointed with; battery life, display, performance or lack of Play store access. It would be easy to pick apart an 8 inch tablet that sells for $129, but I set out to find how usable this tablet would actually be. Specification: In order to keep the cost down each area of the tablet is minimal. The display resolution is 1024×768, Dual core processor GHz with a quad core GPU, only one gig of memory, only 8 Gb internal storage but it is expandable with a microSD card up to 32GB. For this test I installed a SanDisk 32GB card. It does run android It has a USB port, audio jack, micro SD slot and a mini HDMI port. Connectivity is provided through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Additionally it comes with five gig of cloud storage from Pogoplug. Design: This unit comes packaged very well in an attractive box with good packaging. The unit itself appears to have a metal back and has a very comfortable feel. This design uses a 4 x 3 aspect ratio as opposed to 16 x 9 aspect ratio used on many other small tablets. I am finding for reading books, magazines, PDF files and comics a 4 x 3 aspect ratio can be an advantage over a 16 x 9. Another thing I noticed on power up this version of Android has full Google Play support, many cheap tablets do not. No Play store is a deal breaker for me. Usage: The tablet connected very easily to my home network, I started loading apps. I had no issues loading or running any application on the device. Although at one point I got an error that I had no more room to load apps on the tablet. Storage manager showed room on the tablet available, I moved some applications to the SD card and everything worked fine. Display: In testing the display I found the colors to be sharp and clear. I also found that different applications seem to show fonts differently than other applications. Reading a book in the Nook app was very clear and easy to read. Meanwhile reading magazines in the Zinio app, text was grainy from time to time and difficult to read. Battery: After using the tablet for several days I noticed the battery life was very consistent with other higher-priced tablets I own. Standby was very good. I could leave the tablet sitting for days and it would still have a charge. Cameras: Another area where costs were cut was on the cameras. The unit does have front and back cameras, but they’re poor performing. They have issues with low light. I did participate in a Google Hangout with the tablet, but it was not great. If I were designing this tablet I would have put no cameras on it and just made it a consumption device, but people expect to get a camera on a tablet. Connectivity: The wireless network connected to every access point I tried it on. When downloading apps or files it did seem like the transfer rate was a little slower than I would’ve expected. The USB connection on the tablet works exactly as I expected it to. Connect to a PC, it shows up as a storage device and allowed me to copy data directly to it. The mini HDMI port worked extremely well and allowed me to display video content at 1080p. I was able to stream Netflix and display it on the TV. To test the Bluetooth, I paired the device with a Logitech keyboard and everything worked perfectly. Sound: The speaker volume is very low and not very clear. Headphones work fine. Initially the auto rotate function did not work on the tablet. After briefly looking I was unable to find the location to change the setting and I reached out to tech support at Ematics. Within 24 hours they responded via e-mail with the correct answer. I have to say I was impressed considering this is $129 tablet. Sometimes the tablet feels sluggish, specifically when it’s first coming up or when applications are first loading. Don’t try to do too many things at once. The volume controls are on screen display, but they only seem to appear in landscape mode. The device is light enough to hold with one hand to use as a reader, but also the screen size is large enough to use as display for multimedia. I still have an open question on Ematic’s policy on updates. Will they update the software on this or not? Will I keep this tablet to use? Not for my main consumption device, but I could see it as the tablet we take in the car. I seem to be turning into a tablet snob. If you are nitpicky about your devices and if small issues bother you, you will not be happy with this tablet. If on the other hand you’re a glass half-full type of person and you intend to use this tablet for e-mail, web browsing and some light gaming, I think this tablet fits the bill. Its performance is acceptable; I loaded some games on it and gave it the ultimate test, my eight-year-old daughter. She had no issues with the tablet, performance was fine. She’s very familiar with android, so everything worked as she had expected. As I said earlier I have found that inexpensive tablets tend to have very bad displays, very bad battery life and very bad application support. This tablet does well in each of these areas. At $129 I do think this is a tablet you could buy, try it and determine if it’s the right tablet for you and if not hand down to another family member. The EGP008GR was an eye-opener for me. I kept wondering, how can they make this so nice and sell it for $129? As I’ve said several times cheap tablets tend to be junk this one is a good product that I think would be very usable for many average tech guys and gals. My testing was not exhaustive. I am sure there were several things that I missed. Your mileage may vary! @schoondoggy1979
Well after two weeks in shipping, I received my Tronsmart MK908 Android Mini #160; While Android is typically used in smartphones and tablets, someone got the idea of putting Android on a tiny PC about half the size of a deck of cards. Instead of having a built-in touch screen for operation, these devices plug into a standard HDMI port on a TV or computer monitor. The device itself came in very nice retail packaging and included the appropriate HDMI and USB cables. That was good because I was worried that cables were going to raise the total cost of this operation. The MK908 model includes a female mini HDMI port, a full size USB port, a mini USB port for power, an OTG mini USB port, a microSD card slot, and a reset button. For a quick overview of the hardware check out my video unboxing below There is nothing particularly wrong with this hardware set up, but both mini HDMI and mini USB are not used as much anymore. Fortunately, the included adapters allow you to get everything plugged in right out of the box. You can plug a regular USB device into the main USB port and you get a second USB port when you use the adapter for the OTG mini USB port. That gave me room for a mouse and keyboard. Audio worked great with my Bluetooth speaker. If you read my first post about this topic, you know that one of the main goals was to explore Android mini PCs as desktop replacements specifically for kids to use for word processing. Of course there are many other tasks that an Android PC can be used for, such as media consumption and gaming. When I first got the unit out I was thinking "Sweet! I have Android running on a huge TV!” Then it quickly turned into, "Oh, I have touch based Android running on a big TV without ; I did have a bit of a rough time getting used to Android on a big screen. That is partially because I am picky. I had the MK908 hooked up to my TV which was working fine. But I had a terrible Bluetooth mouse and the keyboard cord wasn’t quite long enough to get comfortable. To top it off I had connectivity issues when I started using the device. Now I am using it plugged into my desktop monitor, which means that my keyboard is within easy reach and I also have my regular mouse plugged in. Mouse and keyboard performance can make or break the experience in almost any computing situation. If you wouldn’t like using a certain mouse with your daily computer you won’t like it any better just because you are plugging it into a much more inexpensive piece of gear. After getting the mouse and keyboard issue settled, I was able to log in with my Google account, which synced mail, contacts, and calendars as expected. I was also able to download apps from the Google Play Store. This is an important note, because some Android devices don’t come with the Play Store installed. I downloaded some basic apps like Astro File Manager, Twitter, and Google+. These were the apps I played around with while getting used to the mouse and keyboard. When you are using a mouse on Android, the left click is the same as a tap, left click and hold is the same as tap and hold. Right click produces the back function on Android. At first this is annoying, because I kept clicking and expecting a context menu to appear, but it would take me back out of what I was doing. However as I got used to it, it became a natural way to use Android. In fact, now I keep right clicking in Windows 8 hopping it will take me back. The scroll wheel on your mouse works for scrolling in Android as well. The next test was to see how Android and the MK908 performed for word processing. Up to this point, whenever I would enter text, the on-screen keyboard would pop up and cover half the screen. This didn’t really matter if I was just doing a search or something, but as soon as I started composing a document it became annoying. At some points the only line of text I could see was the single line that I was typing on, just because the keyboard took up so much space. After a quick search and I found a clever app called Null Keyboard. It hides the on-screen keyboard which is perfect for what I am doing. Problem solved. There are many options to access Google Docs on Android. You can use the Google Drive app or the web browser and with the web browser you can chose between the mobile version and the desktop version. The Chrome browser works really well on Android and desktop mode is very similar to Chrome on Windows or Mac. There shouldn’t really be a need to use the mobile browser version of Google Docs. The Google Drive app gives you a plain, but easy to use way to enter text and get your thoughts on the digital paper. The web version does have more features and gives you more of a "Document" feel in addition to including spell check. It did take me a minute to figure out how to get the browser to zoom correctly. You have to double click in a blank space, which goes back to the days before pinch to zoom when we double tapped our touch screen devices to zoom. While none of these word processing options are as feature rich as you would get in Microsoft Word, they do get the job done for some basic entry. Since many kids these days are already using Google Docs for everything, this might be an environment that they have no trouble working with. I also wanted to mention some apps that I got working and some that didn’t. Angry Birds, Twitter, and Google Drive had no issues. The YouTube app worked, but performance seemed better just using the web browser rather than the built in app. I tested Hulu Plus and Temple Run. They installed, but did not function with the current software version. Certain apps got the "device not supported" response from Google Play likely because Google Play sees this as a tablet and the apps are for phones. Instagram was one of those, along with Microsoft OneNote which was big disappointment since OneNote has become the single most essential app to me. Overall any Android Mini PC is going to take some getting used to. In a short while I was comfortable enough to do some basic web research and type up the rough draft of a paper using the Google Drive app. There are lots of people having success with these devices as gaming machines and media centers as well. If you are willing to take the time to set up an Android mini PC for yourself or someone else, I think that you could have a pretty neat device for not a lot of money. The next step is to see if kids can use an Android mini PC for doing homework. I expect to pass this along to my brother (an 8th grade student) without very many issues. He is pretty familiar with Android, and I think his perspective will be that anything that works on it is something he didn’t have access to before. If something doesn’t work, he will probably just do without. The big question will be whether or not he ends up using it on a regular basis for homework and typing papers. Kyle Wilcox is a guest writer for #160; You can find him on Twitter at @kylejwx
I was fairly optimistic and excited about the Roku 3 ( affiliate link) when I first got it 50 days ago. I liked the channel selection, Wi-Fi direct remote capabilities etc. among the many features of the Roku device. The full in-depth review of my initial impressions can be found here . Over this course, however, I have been frequently annoyed with the number of times the Roku 3 hangs up and the number of clicks I have to make to view content. Hardly a couple of days go by before I have to unplug and reconnect the Roku 3 device for a hard boot. The cause of this recurrent system freeze seems quite inexplicable to me. It is hard to say whether the channel(s) are at fault here or the core system itself. Regardless, the Roku 3 operating system needs to be able to sand box fatal errors caused by individual channels. Perhaps, this will be resolved in an OS update in the near future. Regarding the number of clicks issue, I think that Roku has its work cut out for it. Roku 3 needs to make virtually all (if not all), channel content indexed within the system. At present, there is no way to search for many shows without opening the channel first and then navigating through it to get to your content. Switching between shows and channels to get to the content you want can easily take more than 10 clicks. For some programs that were telecasted days ago, navigating through the list can take tens of clicks. Having said this, the overall Roku 3 experience is pleasant and engaging to use (be sure to hit up the link above). It is good enough that I do not intend to switch to another device anytime in the near future. The channel selection, system speed, wireless headphones, Plex support etc. makes this a very compelling device. I am always exited to view content from my computer that I have accumulated over the years, in a convenient, effortless manner using the Plex channel. One thing to note is that with Google ChromeCast out in the marketplace, it is unlikely that Roku 3 with support YouTube anytime soon.
It appears that the word “live” didn’t get removed from all the old Windows Live Essentials 2011 Apps when they upgraded the suite to Windows Essentials 2012 (WE2012). I just installed WE2012 on a newly minted Windows 8 Enterprise Laptop (I am a Microsoft TechNet subscriber and the RTM version is available there now) to test the user experience and discovered that like Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger, the live brand has yet to be removed from Windows Live Writer (WLW). Good, one less thing I have to change. Surface RT, now starting at $349 at Microsoft Store Speaking of change, there no real visible updates that have been made to #160; Sure, the interface is flatter and more Windows 8 (Metro) like, but no major #160; It’s been one of the best blogging tools in my kit over the last 4 years and I was glad to see that Microsoft is not tweaking a good #160; I’m sure something changed, I just cannot find #160; If you know of something, leave it in the comments below. One of the weird things about installing WE2012 on Windows 8 however is the fact that you have to install the Microsoft .NET Framework 3 before you can install #160; It’s not seamless #160; In this case, it throws a message (see below) with a link to the .NET Framework install () and expects you to select the download button for the #160; When you do, it gives you a popup that then suggests some additional software (also see below) that can be #160; Not Average User friendly kind of #160; I didn’t select either and moved on. When the framework install is complete, it then does not take you back to the WE2012 install like you would expect, but closes out the install completely. It’s then back to the WE2012 page and the install starts over again without the .NET interruption this time. It’s not awful, just not a one step install. Microsoft will need to get that fixed before launch in October. When the install is done (and I did a complete install, it looks something like this on the Windows 8 (Metro) screen. Other than that, blogging is just as easy in WLW2012 as it was in #160; I just wrote this entire post with it and didn’t have a single #160; Thanks for not messing up a good thing Microsoft! If you would like to try Windows 8 Enterprise with 90 day evaluation license, click on the link and #160; I would suggest trying it first in a VM or an extra PC or Laptop that you might #160; If you have questions about that, join us over at Facebook for the #160; Windows Live Essentials 2012 can be found here: Get more help just like this on the Home Tech Podcast! Join us for the show live each Thursday at 8pmC/9E at or subscribe at the links to the right!