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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Not So Average

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.
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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

The iDevices iGrill Mini Hands On Review

One of the many reasons I love podcasting is that I learn so much from those I #160; It’s been a consistent flow of new information now for the last 5 years!  I recently interviewed Ryan Parker (@TheRyankParker) of on Home Gadget Geeks 193 () and he recommend the IDevices IGrill Mini (click the link to find on Amazon) and ordered it right before Thanksgiving here in the US for $#160; On show 193, I talked Ryan thru my special BBQ Bacon Wrapped Turkey method () and asked him how I could take it up a #160; The iGrill was his answer. The set up out of the box is really #160; Pull the battery strip from the sending unit and everything is ready to #160; I unwound the probe and cable from it’s holder and plugged it into the sending #160; Pushed firmly for a few seconds to turn the unit #160; There is an app from iDevices that needs to be installed on either your iPhone or Android #160; After that was done, I connected the two via Bluetooth and the #160; Headed outside and put the probe in the Turkey on the left. (Important a bit later) and closed the #160; Cooking temp on the BBQ was medium. (Click any of the pictures to make them larger) There are some presets that can be done based on the type of meat you are #160; I used 170 degrees for Turkey. I shut the grill and went back inside and measured the cooking temps from inside. Side note:  I ran out of gas with about 30 minutes to #160; I am thankful for a place I could swap out my tank very quickly and get things back up and #160; No issues #160; I need a second tank bad! The dip in temperature on the 4th picture is when I switch the probe from the turkey on the left and put it in the one on the #160; I guess one side of my grill is hotter than the other. I moved it over to the left and it quickly reached the correct #160; Below are the finished results!  Serious YUM! Full disclosure: I did not use the probe to cook the Bacon! There you have #160; The finished #160; I used it again at Christmas time to cook the Ham #160; Worked great for that as well. If you get one, love to hear how it worked for #160;
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Home Gadget Geeks

Home Automation, Amazon Echo and Noise Cancelling Headphones – HGG192

John Greenaway and Omaha Podcaster Mike Wieger from and the Open Mike Night Podcast joins Jim () for show #192 of Home Gadget Geeks brought to you by the Average Guy Network, part of community. John joined us on 171 () when we talked about the Elgato Video Capture Device and recently completed a move to a new home.  We talk about some of the tech challenges in a move and John’s thoughts on cabling, Wifi and media.  We are also joined by Mike Wieger, fellow Omaha Podcaster and tech guy himself.  Mike gives us his impressions of the newly announced Amazon Echo and we have  discussion around voice recognition with devices.  At the end of the program, we cover the review of the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B Noise Cancelling Headphone () and see if they are ready for prime time. Support the Average Guy Tech Scholarship Fund: or if you are in Canada, use WANT TO SUBSCRIBE? Join us for the show live each Thursday at 8pmC/9E/1UTC at or call in your questions or comments to be played on the show at (402) 478-8450 Listen Mobile:     Mike Wieger and Open Mike Night – Home: On Podcast – ZyXEL Powerline AV 500 Mbps 4 Port Gigabit Switch Wall-plug Adapter ;camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=B0061308MA&linkCode=shr&tag=avestufrothea-20&linkId=CQPCJLT7USB24KAG&=electronics&qid=1415901557&sr=1-2&keywords=power+ethernet+zyxel+4+por Philips 431643 Hue Personal Wireless Lighting by Philips ;camp=213733&creative=393177&creativeASIN=B00BSN8DN4&linkCode=shr&tag=avestufrothea-20&linkId=6BTYGE2B5HTDH7KJ&=aps&qid=1415901862&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=philips+hue+starter+pack INSTEON 2634-222 On/Off Dual-Band Outdoor Module by Insteon ;camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=B00B1GHKUK&linkCode=shr&tag=avestufrothea-20&linkId=BG7GFJTSLRT2MT7P&qid=1415901349&sr=8-1&keywords=insteon+outdoor+outlet INSTEON 2244-224 New Starter Kit by Insteon ;camp=213733&creative=393177&creativeASIN=B00CMUFTPC&linkCode=shr&tag=avestufrothea-20&linkId=OMONXD5BNRPIE2HT&psc=1 Insteon Universal Outdoor Camera 2 Pack by Insteon ;camp=213733&creative=393177&creativeASIN=B00IW5T344&linkCode=shr&tag=avestufrothea-20&linkId=BRJSNDV5ZAEC2YLG&psc=1 Nest Learning Thermostat – 2nd Generation ;camp=213733&creative=393177&creativeASIN=B009GDHYPQ&linkCode=shr&tag=avestufrothea-20&linkId=5MP3NIDEZMADCB4C&=electronics&qid=1416076643&sr=1-1&keywords=Nest&pebp=1416076645170 Nest Alternative – Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Active Noise Cancelling Headphones ;camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=B002HWJT1A&linkCode=shr&tag=avestufrothea-20&linkId=ALUU5HMBPOAZAHNY&creativeASIN=B002HWJT1A&linkId=ZF36FJHNY6KKLMEM&=electronics&qid=1415230505&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=audio+technica+noisew Catch all the subscription links at Facebook Group: Jim’s Twitter: #!/jcollison Contact the show at Find this and other great Podcasts from the Average Guy Network at
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Home Tech

Hands on Review of the Elgato Video Capture Device – Digitizing and Archiving Analog Video

John Greenaway is a Home Tech listener since show #1 is guest writing for The Average Guy Blog. This item was purchased with proceeds from the Average Guy Tech Scholarship Fund. Working through the outset of this project was emotional as well as therapeutic for #160; As such, I felt compelled to elaborate a small amount on why I embarked on this project and how the combination of my personal / family situation, my nostalgic nature, my interest and appreciation for technology, and my paranoid approach to data management, and archival led me to this #160; For those solely interested in the technical and procedural review of the Elgato device, please feel free to jump down to “Getting on with it…”  I won’t be #160; — JG Prelude / Introduction – Memories: Fading Memories As a child of the 80s and young adult of the 90s, I feel like I was a member of the earliest generation whose parents had easy access to consumer level and relatively inexpensive video recording #160; While there were previously film-based alternatives to capture life’s ‘regular’ every day moments, the VHS tape really brought home video to the #160; Granted, the camcorders my parents used back then were about the size of a small toaster, weighed anywhere from 6-12 pounds, and the recorded analog standard definition video (sub-SD based on today’s definition) to VHS’ smaller form factor VHS-Compact and eventually to full size VHS #160; And of course, in those days most camcorders were designed to film through a view-finder as it rested on your shoulder so that your arm didn’t fall off after 10 minutes of recording your 8-year-old’s Ronald McDonald birthday party!  After having grown up in a ‘camcorder’ house, surprisingly I didn’t buy my own until about a decade ago while in my early 30s and just after my #160; At the time, my first camcorder was one of the earliest to actually record digital video files to a 30GB spinning #160; The files were easily archived and subsequently edited and shared with a simple USB file transfer to a home #160; I have since abandoned the sole purpose video camera in favor of capturing family moments on either our DSLR or one of our android phones, depending on the #160; While the compression or container format has shifted among subsequent recording options, the formats are all ‘standard’ and easily convertible to just about any other format / container using easily accessible software #160; As such, I have a very comfortable family video archival situation with high quality and protected (3-2-1 backup) copies of all videos I’ve made over the last #160; These will be available to my kids and grandkids for years to #160; Unfortunately, until embarking on this project, this statement was not even close to true for nearly every family video taken from the time I was 11 up through the age of 30!  I tend to be a fairly nostalgic #160; I genuinely enjoy reflecting on the grand memories and moments in time encapsulated by photos and videos of my life and the lives of loved #160; I’ve become even more nostalgic since losing my father a few years ago when he was just 56 years old – and more critically for me, just 11 months after the birth of my son / his first #160;  Since then, we’ve added a set of twins to the family and I’ve really struggled with the fact that my children did not get to know and experience their grandfather as I was able to for 3 of my own 4 #160; How could I convey to them what he meant to me?  His sense of humor?  Could they appreciate his musical talents and seeing him play 50s, 60s, and 70s music in his ‘oldies’ band on weekends?  Could they relate to our collective adventures on camping and fishing trips or my parents’ various visits to see me in college or grad school?  Would they ever appreciate or understand my days in ROTC or as a USAF officer out of college?  Since I don’t fly any longer, could they somehow experience the fun and excitement of when I would fly my parents around Boston’s Charles River loop and to Nantucket using one of Hanscom AFB flying club’s Cessna? Luckily for me, my dad was also a fairly ‘nostalgic’ man and so many of these types of moments had been captured for ‘posterity’ over the #160; I had accumulated a lot of tapes to prove it – I now have at least 70 tapes with ~25 years of family video sitting (and potentially rotting) in my #160; So much good ‘posterity’ does when the standard analog VHS magnetic cassette has a theoretical shelf life of just 10-15 years depending on which website you reference and personally, I had not connected a VCR to a TV for going on 7 years. I had told myself I would take on this video conversion project for the last 4-5 years, probably longer #160; I’m sure many of us have projects just like this that linger and don’t really “need” to be #160; Finally this January, after moving several boxes of tapes for the 3rd time in 15 years – this time across the country from Boston to San Francisco, I decided I was finally going to do #160; I don’t want to move these tapes again or risk losing them to #160; As a loyal Average Guy podcast listener who was fully aware of the collective audience demographics, I would expect many of you to have similar situations with lots of old magnetic tape video sitting useless in some closet or #160; While some of us in this community are fairly AV savvy, clearly some others are #160; For me, I have a great home network and AV #160; I own and use several video editing and conversion programs, and I stream photos and videos regularly from my homer server to Tivos or Chromecasts through the #160; I just did not have a video capture card in my desktop. Nor did I feel like taking on the project to find, install, and configure a card to convert these degrading memories into a digital archival equivalent…. Getting on with it… So a few months ago, I approached Jim about leveraging the TAG Tech Scholarship Program for this #160; More specifically, the ‘lending library’ structure of that program, since theoretically, I’d only need this device for a set period of time until I’ve converted the #160; Beyond that, I might as well pass it on to the next guy who is in the same boat as I was…  After doing my initial buying research, I landed on the Elgato Video Capture Device which had / stars based on nearly 800 Amazon #160; Step 1 – Getting Ready:  Organize the collection and understand hardware needs Since the outset of the camcorder commercialization and notably from the late-eighties through the early 2000’s the technology evolved and the devices shrunk from countertop appliance #160; Shoulder stabilization and view-finders gave way to lighter weight devices with hand straps and small LCD #160; More importantly for the topic of this review, VHS and VHS-C analog recordings shifted to smaller form factor magnetic tapes including the 8mm Hi8 analog format and eventually to better digital recording formats including DV and the HDV format which first introduced 720p and 1080p recording at the consumer #160;  In contrast with my own ‘simple’ single format digital archival situation of the last decade, my father had seemingly bought into every advancement in home camcorders since #160; This made my project much more complicated than I was expecting… So I was left with a pile of about 70 tapes running the gamut of VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, HI8, DV, and HDV….  Below is a photo of about half of them… The first item the Elgato Video Capture device obviously needs is content and something to play the #160; Many of these tapes are easily playable using a standard VCR, while others will require I find and use the same device (or similar model / brand) as was used to record it… At this point, I have only been able to convert about 30 of the VHS-based tapes and I’ll have to track down my dad’s old camcorders on my next trip home before I can convert the remaining ones… (Notably the digital recordings which are likely to be both newer and of higher quality) Step 2 – Connect Elgato Device to a Video Player Source The Elgato device is essentially a dongle that connects to your VCR or camcorder and to a USB port on a Windows or Mac #160; On the VCR side, video uses either (a) an S-video output or (b) a yellow RCA connector and audio records in stereo using red & white RCA-jack style #160; In my case, it turns out that in the 7 years since last disconnecting my standard VCR, it had stopped #160; Shocker!   My first challenge in executing on this project was the lack of a player for even a standard VHS #160;  After a several week delay, followed by discussing with neighbors and colleagues, I was able to get a working VHS player to test with for my VHS, VHS-Compact (with full-size VHS converter) and S-VHS #160;  In contrast, I need to wait for my next trip to my mother’s house in PA to dig out my dad’s old DV and HDV-based camcorders in our garage in order to finish the project for the rest of the digital-based and higher quality tapes. Step 3 – Install Elgato Drivers and Video Capture Software While the Elgato box contained an installation disk for windows drivers and the capture software, I tend to follow the path of going directly to the source for these kind of #160; I downloaded latest drivers and software from:  #160; The process I followed was to install the driver file first followed by the #160;   At the completion of the software installation, I was prompted to connect the dongle to the USB #160; At this point, the installation is completed and the software prompted me to cue up the first video. Step 4 – Start Rescuing Memories Using the software literally could not be any easier….  Below are screen shots from main capture #160; The software leads you through every video in a step-wise process which follows down the left hand side: 4a – Get Started:  Set Preferences & Name Video Preferences:  General Tab I set the default file location and the three “General” tab check #160;  Given that I am recording generally from VHS tapes that are sub-SD resolutions, I’m not sure the High Res Video box is doing anything (resulting MP4 files are 640×480), but I have a decent PC and figure it can’t #160; I have not noticed the process being slowed down at all).  Also, it seemed a good idea to Preserve Source Format – but I haven’t tried it the other way. Preferences:  Video Tab Sliders for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Hue I have not needed to adjust these at all Preferences:  Audio Tab A single slider for audio gain Again, I have not needed to adjust at #160; All videos I have recorded have sounded just fine. Once the Preferences are set, it’s time to name the video and set an approximate length for the #160;  This setting will later prompt you to see if you would like to auto stop the #160; Generally, I have not been using this feature, but if you know how long your videos are, it’s certainly a nice to have feature if you want to start a recording and let it run after you go to sleep or leave the #160;   Then select “Continue.” 4b – Connect Video and Connect Audio: For a first recording on a particular player device, it’s probably a good idea to test both the video and audio using the screens #160;  However, once connections are tested the first time, the process to initiate subsequent recordings are simply to click “Continue” through the both Connect Video and Connect Audio screens to get to the Record screen. On the video screen, you have a choice to select the appropriate input (S-Video or RCA) and on the audio screen, you merely need to confirm audio is on and loud enough in the software. 4c – Record: Finally, just click the red Record button. On the record screen, you have the option to stop recording at the time you provided earlier (or uncheck the option if you don’t know how long the tape is or if you prefer to let it record until you manually stop #160; I have been mostly running these captures from tapes where I do not necessarily know the length of the #160; So I have been using the manual approach and running the capture process in the evenings when I get home from work for the day until about when I go to bed for the evening. Usually enough time for two or three 90 minute #160;  Usually, I’ll just wait for the VCR to be outputting snow (mine actually shows a blue screen instead of snow) and I’ll manually stop the recording. Additionally on this screen, you can mute the sound which is a nice feature since I generally have this running this every night for the last several weeks in the office next to our family room. 4d –Trim: The only limited editing you can do is to trim off any unneeded video that was captured from the beginning or end of the #160; The software does not allow you to edit the video in any other #160; You need to use other third party software for further editing or post-processing. 4e –Finish Up: After finishing up the Trim Phase, the processing begins (it can take a long time to finish the processing, but since I generally have done these as set it / forget it processes, I just haven’t timed that part of the process yet.) Once the processing is complete, the resulting file size is about 1GB / #160;  At this point, there are several options shown #160;  You can play with Windows Media Player, Add to the WMP Library, Edit with Live Movie Maker, or Upload As-is to #160; Personally, I use VLC as my Media Player of choice and I’m currently using Video Redo TV Suite for editing, so I have generally not made use of this screen other than clicking the Again button and starting over with the next tape!! Conclusions Overall, I’m very happy with the #160; A key factor for me to keep in mind was my expectations for video #160; For some analog VHS tapes I have recorded, the quality is not perfect, but it’s not terrible either – it’s exactly what the source tape provided with an original recording that was not great or one that had already degraded a little over #160; It has nothing to do with the capture device or software and I can’t ding the tool for poor source #160; For the most part, the source material is based on NTSC 480x 320 (approximate analog equivalents to digital resolution), the capture device can’t improve on the source resolution or #160; That said, the resulting MP4 file is captured at a 480×640 resolution which, along with 480×720, are resolutions I’ve seen recommended at several media websites associated with this #160; I did not get into the technical aspects and arguments of why double the horizontal resolution – 480×640 is the defaults and it worked #160; Honestly, I feel a little bad about the ‘review’ component of this post…   I don’t feel I was able to be terribly critical of the #160; It pretty much does what it says it will. Pros In short, the device + software does one important thing and does it very well and very simply. I’ve successfully recorded about 30 of my 60 or so tapes to date and I feel great about #160; Now I have to track down the right players for the other tapes… Neutral No editing post-processing – only trimming from the beginning and #160; Not a big deal for #160; I’m just happy to have the videos in a digital #160; I’ll trim, splice, and make highlight reels once I have all the capturing done. Fixed capture resolution and format– 480×640 and and mp4 #160; Again not a big deal for #160; Given the analog resolution limitations, I’m not sure 480×720 would improve the viewing #160; Further, from analog 480 lines of resolution, 720 or 1080 horizontal lines would just be wasting recording space for no added resolution improvement. Cons None Lessons to share with the community: Make sure you have necessary hardware to play the tape formats you have… DO NOT scan through old tapes using FF / Rewind while #160; Rewind to the beginning before hitting #160; I had a couple tapes get partially eaten while I was trying to fast forward through them to verify what was on the #160; After having this happen twice, I realized I’m better off recording everything rather than trying to pick and #160; Record the entire video contents of the tape as one recording and post-process to split out separate events which happened to be captured on the same #160; For this, I am using other third party software I already own and use for TV editing (VideoRedo TVSuite ) Make two piles of tapes or use stickers or labels to make sure you don’t get confused about which you’ve completed and which you have not
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