Karma Hotspot – $50/m Unlimited Data @5 Mps in the USA

This seems like a very nice option for people with bandwidth needs that don’t fit in the tiny caps most cell phone providers put on plans. For $50/month you get unlimited data @5 Mps in the USA. You can get small increases to the speed by buying data in bite sized chunks (1Gb for $14 or $99 for 10GB, which doesn’t expire).

photo of the small karma hotspot device in someone's hand

The bite sized chunks mainly make sense if you don’t have high data needs for the hotspot – but want it occasionally (and perhaps as backup for your primary connection). The $50/month offer is limited to 3 devices connecting at a time, compared to 8 for the other option.

The device itself costs $149. The device has up to 8 hours of battery life and over 220 hours of standby time.

Currently the devices use Sprint’s Nationwide 4G LTE network, with fallback to 3G CDMA. It seems like a nice option for travelers to me.

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Portable Mini-Projector: P700 Pico DLP Projector from Aaxa

image of the P700 Pico DLP mini-projector

The P700 Pico DLP Projector from Aaxa provides high quality projection from a tiny box.

The mini-projector is just 6.9″ wide by 3.9″ deep by 1.6″ tall while weighing under 2 pounds and it provides 650 Lumens with 70+ Minute Li-Ion Battery Life, 15000 Hour LED, 1280×800 (WXGA) HD Resolution, 2000:1 Contrast Ratio, HDMI, mini-VGA, Composite A/V, USB, microSD, 2x 1W Speakers, DLP Technology and a 1 Year Warranty.

The main market is likely to provide a very portable way to give quick presentations.

I wonder if it will be of interest to digital nomads. They could use this to project video onto a wall instead of watching it on their laptop. I might consider something like this when I go back on the road. If anyone has used a device like this that way, please share your thoughts below.

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HomeWorx HDTV Digital Converter (Receiver) with Media Player

I have an ancient HDTV. It is a projection “65 inch TV which is perfectly fine with me (other than it needing to have the bulbs replaced). But it doesn’t have a receiver in the TV (it is only HDTV ready – no receiver inside the box.

Not having a receiver is actually a benefit in my opinion you are not stuck with the “smart TV” spying trackware, listening to you in the room via the smart TV speaker etc.. My unit is so old it was done separately because the receiver technology wasn’t settled yet.

After I returned from 4 years overseas the receiver was missing. So I picked up a new HomeWorx HDTV Digital Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function (HW180STB) for $30.

The recording PVR option confused me because I couldn’t find the capacity anywhere. After reading a bit I learned that you just use usb sticks to store data. This lets you recored programs over the air using your HDTV antenna and this receiver.

Many people get this when they drop cable TV. I am a bit confused since many of those people have smart TVs (meaning the TV has an HDTV receiver and you can hook up your HDTV antenna to it directly). Some people say this receiver is much better so that you can get stations that isn’t received by the expensive smart TV. You also get the HDTV recording without paying a monthly fee.

It was super simple to setup. I screwed my antenna into this box and this box into my TV (both coaxial cables – the HomeWorx HW180STB also lets you use standard video cables). By far the hardest part was finding AAA batteries. I eventually found them in a small flashlight and then it was just a matter of pushing the down arrow twice and enter: then it recorded all the signals it received).

It captured 47 stations (though maybe 20 of those are pretty fake – either nothing at all or shopping channels and other stuff I have no interest in). It gets all the major stations well (except PBS seems a bit flaky)l and all I have is the antenna sitting in my basement pointing out 1 window (I din’t try adjusting it at all).

Before I left I also had only over the air TV. Then I had the antenna setup in my attic and used the cable TV coaxial cable to hook to my TV. Now I am getting my internet via the cable company so I am not sure what would happen if I try to hook up my antenna to the coaxial cabling that is now carrying my internet feed. Maybe it would work? The antenna was unhooked when I returned (I am not sure it that was done in my absence or I did it for some reason before I left).

I haven’t tried doing anything fancy yet (not even recording) but it is nice to have access to over the air TV (mainly just for sports), I hadn’t bothered getting it hooked up for 2 months. All I used was Netflix and got a HDTV cable to view the playback on the 65″ screen.

My TV is a Toshiba built in 2005 and doesn’t have integrated lamp units you just slide out and replace, sadly. This is what you must deal with to replace the lamp. What were they thinking? I guess this can partially be excused by being a very early HDTV product. But still, not providing a decent replacement option for the lamps is pretty lame. I am trying to hire someone to do it for me, so far unsuccessfully, but I have someone that thinks they can do it.

closeup of lamps and circuit boards

Lamps inside 65″ projection Toshiba HDTV 65h84

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Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is likely the most popular gadget of the year. People are still figuring out what benefits excite them about the watch. It seems to me the potential is huge but this initial effort is not quite amazing.

[Apple broke the link, so it is no longer available 🙁 jeez even companies with spending hundreds of millions on marketing don’t have people in charge that understand that web links must live.]

I embedded Apple’s promotional video for the watch which is obviously a sales piece but they do a very good job of showing what the watch offers.

There are many good reviews of the watch: The Apple Watch (Daring Fireball)Apple Watch Review: The Smartwatch Finally Makes Sense (WSJ)A Week on the Wrist: The Apple Watch Review (Recode)Apple Watch Review (Verge

My opinion is it is very expensive for what you get. But I can see the potential for some very wonderful things down the road. The health kit options I think will be a killer feature (maybe not right away but within a couple years).

Another feature that will be quite valuable are paying with a swipe from the watch (which seems to be less than perfect so far), but it will be very nice. Apple Pay is a very smart system given the relative ease at which consumers credit card details continue be stolen using conventional means (Apple Pay doesn’t turn over you credit card number so hackers can’t get it from poor IT systems at retailers).

The quick interactions with friends I think will be a big feature, again it may take several interactions to get this to be wonderful. The “tap” notifications seems to physically be done very well. Figuring out the right settings to properly filter what should generate that touch seems to take a bit of work (and not surprisingly apps are defaulting to too much bothering the user).

Being able to just speak to leave yourself notes is a nice feature, though my guess is one that isn’t used as much as people would think it would be.

Personally I see more potential for the watch that I see actually delivered thus far. I am more positive about the long term success of the watch today than I was when it was first announced.

I stopped wearing a watch years ago. And I don’t have any plans to start again anytime soon. But if I do, the Apple Watch is a likely candidate. It sure isn’t cheap but hopefully I can just use a bit of profit from Apple stock when the time comes to pay for one.

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Polaroid Cube Camera

Introducing the Polaroid Cube lifestyle action camera—water resistant, shockproof, mountable (1080p HD video, 3MP CMOS sensor and 124° wide angle lens).

The Mobius Action camera is another option (that doesn’t look quite as cool, but has good video quality in a small package at a cheap price – $90).

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Add 128Gb of Storage to Your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

Very cool device that fits inside the card reader slot of your Mac laptop to add 128 Gb of storage (it sits flush with your MacBook, you can barely even tell it is there).

Simply insert JetDrive Lite into the card reader slot on the side of your MacBook and instantly boost your storage capacity.

You need to select your laptop version so my guess is you can’t use one card for both a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro (or between some versions of MacBook Pro that have different JetDrive Lite versions).

It is compatible back to late 2010 MacBook Air 13 inch so I am buying one for my old MacBook Air. Buying via Amazon a 128 Gb version is only $80 (at least right now), list price is $120. Currently it is back-ordered for 2-4 weeks.

I would include a way to lookup the production date of your laptop if I were selling these but they didn’t do so (maybe they will be smart and update the page to do so). You can use this Apple page to determine the production date of your MacBook.

Another similar product, PNY StorEDGE 128 Gb is $75 from Amazon ($200 list price – it is a bit older so likely price to places like Amazon has dropped, even if they didn’t lower the list price, since the release).

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Turn Windows Into Sound Cancelling Filters

Sono is a conceptual gadget to turn windows into sound cancelling filters (similar to noise cancelling headphones). A microphone listens to noise coming in and then a speaker sends out sound waves to cancel the noises that have been set to cancel. In this way they are even cooler than noise cancelling headphones as you can tune the filter to let in birds singing and filter out car alarms, etc.

diagram of pieces of the sono device

Very cool, I hope this becomes a gadget we can buy (it is only conceptual now). Read more at Dyson design award site.

Noise canceling works not by blocking sound but by using properties of the wave pattern of sound to send sound waves that add to the existing sound waves to effectively eliminate the sound wave – thus we don’t hear anything. This is know as Active noise control or active noise reduction. It isn’t blocking the noise but adding other sound waves that combine with the noise you want to filter to eliminate the sound wave – it actually doesn’t eliminate it, as countering the sound wave exactly is not likely possible, but it results in a very limited sound.

Active noise reduction is best for low frequency sound (due to the nature of waves – low frequency has longer wave lengths). My guess is this will mean this product has difficulty blocking high frequency sound nearly as well as it will do with low frequency sounds.

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A Pen That Prints in 3D While You Draw

The 3 Doodler, from Wobble Works presents the opportunity to print your own creations in 3D. 3Doodler is the world’s first and only 3D Printing Pen. Using ABS plastic (the material used by many 3D printers), 3Doodler draws in the air or on surfaces. It’s compact and easy to use, and requires no software or computers. You just plug it into a power socket and can start drawing anything within minutes.

Template allow the 3Doodler to print your very own artist-designed 3Doodles.

The Ink (i.e. ABS/PLA plastic): The 3Doodler uses 3mm ABS or PLA plastic as its “ink” – just like a 3D printer. Each 3Doodler backed on Kickstarter comes with at least one bag of plastic; each bag will contain ten 1ft strands of plastic; and each 1 ft strand produces approximately 11 ft of 3Doodling fun… yes, you read that right, a foot of plastic goes a very long way in the 3Doodler.

Wobble Works plans to offer plastic sold in strands (making it easy to switch colours and create different styles), but 3Doodler-compatible plastic is also available in 1kg spools from between $30 to $55 from a variety of sources. They are not mistreating customers like the old fashion printer companies do with broken by design print cartridges, $8,000 a gallon ink and the like.

As of right now (in the first 24 hours of launch) on Kickstarter they have $449,797 pledged (with an original goal of $30,000).

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Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15″ via Amazon

I am planning on getting an Apple MacBook Pro Retnia with 15″ screen. I love my Macbook Air but want a bigger screen (also I need more ram and a bigger hard drive). You can purchase Apple MacBook’s via Amazon at a discount. You can even add extended Applecare coverage via Amazon.

The retina version obviously offers the retina screen resolution, which is awesome, but it also is much lighter than the old style MacBook pro with the integrated DVD drive. So I will also get an external mac superdrive (DVD drive) for the few DVD I need to watch.

If you want a portable laptop and don’t need the larger screen I think the Macbook Air is exceptional. Along with the iPhone, the Air, is one of the most awesome gadgets available.

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KudoCase Provides Solar Charging for Your iPad

In addition the KudoCase will help you locate your iPad. If you can’t find your iPad just whistle and it will set off an alarm in the KudoCase.

The KudoCase itself stores power so you can recharge directly from that battery without any light. You can also charge your iPhone via the USB slot on the case.

The device is fairly heavy – 1.7 pounds.

The concept is great. It seems like a product that could use some improvement (based on user reviews) with future versions but it very interesting.

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