Kids Gadgets

Amazon Alexa Gen 2

For the past three years, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has been invading homes inside the case of the Echo smart speaker. Alexa has been answering questions, turning on smart lights, adding things to shopping lists, ordering things from Amazon, and playing music for millions of people. The Echo essentially established the smart speaker market, which now has entries from Google, Microsoft, and soon, Apple.

After expanding the line with the smaller and super-popular Echo Dot, the portable, battery-powered Tap, and the more expensive, but ultimately less thrilling, Echo Show, Amazon has finally gone back and updated the original Echo. The new Echo, which is heretofore known simply as the “All-new Echo,” as the original Echo no longer exists in Amazon’s world, comes with a smaller, simpler design; better aesthetics; supposedly improved audio; and, most importantly, a significantly lower price of $99.

That lower price is the main draw for the new Echo. If you’ve been holding off on buying one because the original’s $180 cost kept you away, or you are looking for a second Echo for yourself or as a gift, the new Echo is a much easier purchase to make.

But aside from its smaller design and new, customizable appearance, the new Echo isn’t hugely different from the first model. It still performs all of the same tasks, can still hear its wake word from across the room, and still doesn’t have great audio quality for listening to music. If you already have a first-generation model, it doesn’t make much sense to replace it with the new Echo — you don’t gain much with it and in some instances, you give up some.

Still, thanks to that new, lower price, the new Echo should be just as enamoring and appealing as the first Echo and will likely keep Amazon at the forefront of the smart speaker world.

The most obvious visual difference between the new Echo and its predecessor is the device’s size. Where the first Echo’s size and shape was akin to a can of Pringles or tennis balls, the new model is more like a can of Foster’s beer. It’s short and stout, about two-thirds as tall as the first model, but with a slightly larger diameter. That should make it a little easier to tuck into a shelf or hide away in a corner of your living room or kitchen.

The Echo’s new swappable decorative shells are also designed to make the device blend in with your home better. The first model’s black (and eventually, white) plastic finish gave the device an ominous obelisk vibe that didn’t do anything to diminish the Big Brother feelings that come along with an always-listening internet-connected device in your home. In contrast, the new model comes with a fabric cover in a variety of grays (basically, dark, medium, or light gray) that’s both more appealing to look at and should fit better in modern decor.

You can also purchase various shells to change the look of the Echo, including a silvery gray, walnut, or oak finishes. But since the shells are just plastic and not actual wood or metal, none of the optional decorative covers look as good as the standard fabric one to me.

The simplified design of the new Echo trades the rotating volume ring for plus and minus buttons, like found on the Echo Dot. They work just as well, and since most of the time I adjust the Echo’s volume with voice commands, I don’t miss the ring at all. The new Echo has the same number of far field microphones to pick up voice commands (seven), but Amazon says it has second-generation technology that’s improved over the first model. I haven’t noticed a significant improvement in my testing however, the new Echo hears me just about as well as the prior model did. Most of the time, it hears me on the first try, even when it’s playing music, though occasionally I have to repeat the “Alexa” wake word. It is no better or worse than the Google Home or Harman Kardon Invoke in this regard.

The other new feature with this Echo is the ability to output its audio to a larger speaker or stereo system over a 3.5mm auxiliary cable or Bluetooth. This works the same as it does on the smaller Echo Dot, and makes it easy to add voice control to your existing stereo equipment.

On the inside, Amazon has added Dolby sound processing in an effort to make the Echo’s 2.5-inch subwoofer and 0.6-inch tweeter sound better. But in side-by-side testing, I didn’t find the new Echo to sound any better than the prior model, and for listening to music, I actually preferred the first Echo’s sound.

The new Echo’s sound is sharper, with more treble than the first model. That’s good for hearing Alexa speak back to you, or for cutting through the din of a running faucet if you’re using the Echo in a kitchen. But for music, the sound is thin and flat, with even less bass than before. The old model had a softer sound with just a little bit more bass that’s much more pleasant to listen to.

It almost goes without saying, then, that the new Echo doesn’t sound as good as theGoogle Home or anywhere near as good as the Harman Kardon Invoke or Sonos One. It’s not even as powerful or fun to listen to as some portable Bluetooth speakers, such as the JBL Charge 3 or UE Boom 2. That’s a little disappointing, given that Amazon itself admits that the most common thing people do with the Echo is listen to music. Most people will be content with the Echo’s sound quality for casual listening, but given that it is the one area most often complained about with the first model, I’d have to liked to have seen more improvement here.

Amazon has added a number of new features to Alexa, the smart assistant inside of the Echo, including control of Fire TV set top boxes and improved smart home controls. Since Alexa runs entirely in the cloud, it doesn’t matter which Amazon Echo device you own, it performs all of the same functions on all of them. You don’t need to buy a new Echo to get the latest Alexa features on your first-generation model.

And the new Echo performs all of those voice-controlled functions just as well as its predecessor. I use an Echo in my kitchen to add items to a shared grocery list that my wife and I both have access to on our phones; I use one to turn on lights throughout my house; I use an Echo Dot to control the Fire TV box connected to the TV in my play room; and I use another Dot as an alarm clock next to my bed each morning. Once you have Alexa in one room and have configured it to do more than just play music, it becomes the type of thing that you want in every room of your home

Amazon’s clearly tapped into an alluring idea with the Echo, and even though the company won’t admit how many it’s sold so far, by all accounts it’s a successful product. In light of that, the latest version doesn’t rock the boat too much. It doesn’t improve the Echo’s rather poor audio quality, nor does it introduce any new, groundbreaking features. It just does the same things in a smaller, cheaper design. That’s enough to keep Amazon ahead of its competitors, which are all a step or two behind the Echo line-up.

In all honesty, Amazon really didn’t have to do much to the Echo to make it more appealing. It just had to make it less expensive, which is exactly what Amazon did here. The real product Amazon is selling is Alexa, and for an in-home virtual assistant, Alexa is very good. And if you want the best way to use Alexa, the new Echo is it.

Source: The Verge

DJI Spark- Drone of the future

DJI Spark

Small drones are not new. Toy-sized quadcopters have been on the market for years helping kids (and dads) start flying for a relatively reasonable price and not much expertise. Yet small drones that can do almost anything a big drone can do? That’s new. And that’s what makes the DJI Spark so exciting.

The first and, ultimately, most important thing you’ll notice about the Spark is its size. It is tiny. It’s so tiny, it makes the very small Mavic Pro look like an obese giant. If the Mavic Pro is the size of Italian sandwich, the Spark is the size of a hearty cannoli. At 300 grams, it weighs about as much as a cannoli, too. Since a recent court ruling found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cannot require hobbyists to register their drones, you can just take the Spark out of the box and start flying for fun. If you’re using it for commercial purposes, those rules still apply.

That’s part of why it took two people to review this bite-sized little quadcopter. Michael is a licensed commercial drone pilot, so he manned the controls. Adam is a recreational pilot, so he worked as the spotter (and photographer). And to be a real dad about it, you should always do your drone flights with a friend. At the very least, two sets of eyes come in handy, when you’re trying to keep your eye on the aircraft. Since the Spark is so small, you’ll need all the help you can get.

What kind of tiny drone is this?

Broadly speaking, the Spark boasts all of the same features as the larger, folding Mavic Pro, but everything is dialed down. With a maximum speed of 31 mph, the Spark is not as fast as the Mavic Pro’s 40 mph. With a maximum transmission distance of 1.2 miles, the Spark can’t fly as far as the Mavic Pro which has a range of 4.3 miles. With a battery half the size of the Mavic Pro’s, the Spark can’t fly as long. You’ll get 16 minutes of flight on a single Spark charge. The Mavic Pro’s battery lasts 27 minutes. The 1080p camera and two-axis gimbal on the Spark is not nearly as good as the 4K camera and three-axis gimbal on the Mavic Pro.

Bear in mind: the Spark in flying mode (left) is roughly half the size of a folded up Mavic Pro (right). The Mavic Pro gets about twice as big, when you unfold it.

Yet like the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4, the DJI Spark features obstacle avoidance technology and extra sensors that enable intelligent flight modes, like Tap Fly, Active Track, and Gestures. That last one is where the Spark really stands out. Thanks to an infrared sensor on the front of the aircraft, you can actually control the Spark with your palm. A lot of people are calling this “Jedi Mode,” and it’s pretty cool, when it works.

 What’s it like?

This is all especially exciting since the DJI Spark only costs $500. That makes it not only the smallest drone DJI’s ever made but also the cheapest. But there’s a catch, that $500 price tag does not include the cost of a controller, and you’ll definitely want to fly the Spark with a controller.

The DJI Spark controller looks just like the Mavic Controller except there’s no display and no need to plug in your phone, as it communicates with the controller using wi-fi.

To get a controller, you have to buy the Spark Fly More Combo for $700. The combo comes with a lot of other stuff that you’ll definitely want, like propeller guards, extra propellers, and an extra battery. However—and that’s a capital “H” however—let us remind you that you don’t need the controller to fly the Spark. You can fly it with your hands, or you can use a smartphone or tablet. It’s great for beginners who don’t need another joy stick in their lives, but that experience might not be ideal for seasoned drone pilots, who love the tactile feel of a controller.

How does this tiny drone do in the sky?

Think of the Spark as a personal drone. Everything about it is designed to make you feel safe and in control—especially if you spring for those propellor guards. You can technically fly the DJI Spark with your hands and take selfies by making a picture frame with your fingers. Toss the DJI Spark in a backpack and go on vacation to California. It can take off from your palm, track you and your pal as you pose next to a redwood, take a photo, and then land on your palm. Except for the whole California vacation thing, we did this. It worked.

Here’s an unedited still taken on a very hot and sunny day in Brooklyn.

But the gesture control is far from perfect. You really do have to learn the different gestures and train yourself a little to do them exactly right. Even then, you’re very limited to what you can do it. Basically, the DJI Spark will take a photo of you and fly within a few feet of your palm. It’s a parlor trick at best. And don’t even think about trying it in the wind. The Spark bounces around in a breeze, and that seems to confuse the infrared sensor to no end.

But the technology still feels like the first generation of a thrilling new wave of drones that work with minimal effort and require nothing more than a trained human to make them fly. Or maybe, in the future, these drones will be sentient and take over the world. We don’t know yet, and that’s what makes it so exciting!

What does it do besides taking selfies?

Thing is, you don’t need the gesture control at all. It’s a fun bonus for a drone that’s already awesome. It’s like the Mazda Miata of drones. Sure, it’s not the biggest or most powerful thing you can buy. But it’s fun as hell.

In this unedited image, Adam is failing to control the Spark with his hand. Michael, took this still from the controller while the drone was in gesture mode.

We could really see the Spark being extra fun for wannabe drone racers. While 31 mph isn’t the fastest speed for a DJI drone, it feels fast when you’re flying the Spark in sport mode. And because the Spark is roughly the same size as the racing drones you see people flying in the Drone Racing League on ESPN, you’ll start to feel like you could get the hang of this hobby. The big bummer is that the Spark currently doesn’t work with DJI Goggles, the company’s first-person view (FPV) headset.

 Camera

Meanwhile, the camera is exceedingly decent for simple stuff like taking a selfie or shooting an aerial view of the city skyline. However one thing that the DJI Spark camera really doesn’t do well is tilt the camera lens up or down. The barebones two-axis gimbal doesn’t move smoothly; it essentially jumps from one position to the next, which will keep the Spark from being useful for budding cinematographers who want smooth pans.

The infrared sensor, 1080p camera, and two-axis gimbal on the front of the Spark makes it look a bit like a Star Wars character.

If you find yourself disappointed by little shortcomings like a jerky gimbal or lack of FPV goggles, the Spark might not be for you. You’re probably someone who already owns a Phantom or a Mavic Pro or, who knows, a freaking $3300 Inspire. You might consider buying a Spark for your kids, though. Heck, get one for your fun-loving mom or that close friend you’ve been convincing to take up the hobby. It’s an expensive way to get started with drones, but it’s worth it for the right person.

Should you buy the Spark?

But before you spend any money, consider your mission. Are you a beginner, looking to get a first drone that works dependably well for most purposes? The Spark’s a great choice. Are you a long-time Phantom owner, looking for something more portable? The Spark is a good choice, but for $300 more the Mavic Pro is better. Are you an aerial cinematographer hoping to get some of your footage in a Hollywood movie? You shouldn’t even be reading this right now, because you should be saving up for the $5,000 DJI Matrice.

The Spark minus one propellor guard, which snaps securely to the drone’s arm, and one propellor, which folds and connects to the motor with a push-and-turn motion.

This is another way of saying that, with the addition of the Spark, DJI really does sell a drone for every level of expertise. And quite impressively, the $500 Spark is just enough drone for most people. No matter how advanced you are as a pilot, the Spark is genuinely fun to fly.

It could get even better with age, too, thanks to potential firmware updates and improvements to the gesture control. Otherwise, it’s a magical glimpse into an exciting future of drones, aircraft that are smaller than we thought possible and that can do more than ever before.

Update 7/26/2017 – This story has been updated to include new details about FAA drone rules, namely the fact that small drones no long need to be registered if they’re being flown for recreational purposes.

Top Gifts & Gadgets 2017

Here are the Top Gifts & Gadgets 2017. Everything you need to know for you or your loved ones.  We will update This page all the way up to Christmas.

  1. Halo One Bluetooth Speaker– $150

The Halo One Wireless Speaker is inspired from the nature of simplicity and unity, Halo One is an original, modern, and breathtaking new designed Bluetooth/NFC speaker from Gingko. The aesthetically and fashionably shaped sound box reveals sexy curves and wood texture and delivers smooth sense of touch and phenomenal audio quality

 

halooneweb2. Stainless Steel Lowball – Vacuum Insulated Cup With Lid 12 oz– $15

These stainless steel Lowball tumblers are made with superior quality and individually hand inspected before delivery to you. Magnum Steel tumblers are designed to last a lifetime.

Stainless Steel Lowball is great for both hot and cold drinks for your drinking pleasure.
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3. Apple Air Pods – Wireless headphones– $159

After a simple one-tap setup, AirPods are automatically on and always connected.1 Using them is just as easy. They can sense when they’re in your ears and pause when you take them out. And the AirPods experience is just as amazing whether you’re listening to your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac.

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4. Apple Watch Series 2.– $369

Built-in GPS. Water resistance to 50 meters.1 A new lightning-fast dual-core processor. And a display that’s two times brighter than before. Full of features that help you stay active, motivated, and connected, Apple Watch Series 2 is designed for all the ways you move.

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5. Dad hats– $21

A dad hat is a baseball cap that’s canvas or cotton and has a slightly curved brim (not too curved, though) and is probably a little oversized on the wearer. Unless, of course, you’re actually a dad—then it probably fits you perfectly.

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Half way through the Top Gifts & Gadgets 2016

6. Go Pro Hero 5– $399

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The GoPro Hero 5 is the latest addition to the gopro lineup and probably makes the biggest jump out of any so far. It is waterproof out of the box without any case. It has a touch screen on the rear and is also voice activated.

7. Tile Slim– $30

Tile Slim is the newest Bluetooth Tracker from Tile. And it will hopefully save you money by not letting you loose so much money.

8. DJI MAVIC – $999

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THE DJI MAVIC PRO is small and Portable yet still has all the great features we have come to expect from DJI.

After the initial burst of Drones Onto the Scene 5 years ago. The whole industry has been moving towards smaller, easier, and better quality.

Up until now you always had to sacrifice one of those to get the others. The MAVIC give you everything you want

9. Electric Skateboard– $300

swagboard by swagtron top

The skateboard of the future is here! Swagboard NG-1 NextGen boosted electric skateboard takes the fun of a typical longboard to the next level. This futuristic motorized skateboard is built with a 7-ply Canadian maple wood deck, durable polyurethane wheels, and solid grip tape for a more comfortable and secure ride. This boosted board can hold weights of up to 176 pounds and can travel up to 11 mph!

10. NES Classic Edition– $60

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The NES Classic Edition system is a miniaturized version of the groundbreaking NES, originally released in 1985.

Just plug the NES Classic Edition into your TV, pick up that gray controller, and rediscover the joy of NES games.

 

So there you go. The Top Gifts & Gadgets 2017.

 

Smart-Kart Actev Arrow

REMEMBER THE GO-KART  you never got as a child? The one your mom called “too dangerous—end of story”? With the all-electric Arrow Smart-Kart on sale this week, you can right the wrongs of the past, for the next generation at least, and do so without putting your children at risk of head trauma.

The Arrow is sized for children age 5 to 9, but a determined adult can squeeze behind the wheel. Yes, we drove it. Yes, we were grinning like imbeciles the whole time.

The younger set will be thrilled by the Arrow’s surprisingly brisk 12-mph top speed. Even more exciting, the Arrow will “drift,” or skid, through tight turns. (To facilitate this on rougher roads, slap optional friction-reducing drift rings over the tires.)

If putting fledgling drivers behind the wheel of a vehicle with dual 250W electric motors gives you pause, rest assured that safety features abound. Once the Arrow is tethered to an app over direct Wi-Fi (no need to scour your cul-de-sac for a network), parents can set speed limits, change gears and, thankfully, tap an emergency brake if the child is headed for trouble. The geo-fencing feature shuts down the vehicle should it stray beyond boundaries you’ve traced on a map. And the kart won’t even start without the parents’ app activated (though there’s an unsupervised mode for children with better driving records).

 

The hallmark safety feature, however, is the anti-collision system. Like premium cars, the Arrow has a front sensor that detects obstacles and triggers the brakes.

Driving is only the beginning, though. During our test run, Actev Motors CEO and co-founder Dave Bell pointed out a front-mounted red laser, which could one day (via a software upgrade and some accessories) allow multiple Arrows to play dogfighting games. “Like laser tag,” he said, but on wheels.

WSJ.com

Bluetooth Motion Alarm- Sammy Screamer

Sammy Screamer -Bluetooth  Motion Alarm Sammy bleeps when she’s moved and sends a notification to your smartphone. Keep an eye on your stuff Stick Sammy on the things you want to keep an eye on and she’ll let you know if they move. Baby’s buggies and strollers, doors, windows and cupboards, handbags and rucksacks, laptops or even the cookie jar! Control Sammy from your smartphone Sleep and wake Sammy using the BleepBleeps app. When Sammy is awake she’ll bleep if she gets moved and send a notification to your phone. When you don’t need her, use the BleepBleeps app to send her to sleep.

 

Keep an eye on your stuff

Stick Sammy on the things you want to keep an eye on and she’ll let you know if they move.

Control Sammy Bluetooth Motion Alarm from your smartphone

Sleep and wake Sammy using the BleepBleeps app. When Sammy is awake she’ll bleep if she gets moved and send a notification to your phone. When you don’t need her, use the BleepBleeps app to send her to sleep.

Smartphone Projector- Have Fun Tonight

This Smartphone Projector is a great gift for kids or anyone looking for a little fun with their phone.

The first version of Smartphone Projector was such a success they decided to release a pre-made, deluxe finish version.

No need for glue with this one, it works straight out of the box. Just take it out, choose what you want to project, kick back and relax!

Smartphone Projector 2.0 comes with a soft matt laminate finish and silver foil accents and makes the perfect gift for any gadget lover this Christmas. Designed with sophistication in mind, 2.0 has brown leather print detail, inspired by range finder cameras, leather hip flasks and Cuban cigar lounges.2.0 is wide enough to fit the iPhone 6 Plus, so imagine kicking back on a Chesterfield sofa with some whiskey and popping the Smartphone Projector on to enjoy some Super 8 inspired film or a Hollywood classic on your Smartphone.

The perfect present for the gadget lover with a taste for the finer things in life, they can make the most of their HD smart phone screens but with a touch of classic luxury design. Made from cardboard, Smartphone Projector 2.0 is light, compact and totally portable.

It comes ready made so can be used straight out of the box. Inspired by the sweet spot where modern technology meets vintage aesthetics, the Luckies design team wanted to utilize the infinite possibility and popularity of modern technology that is in the palm of our hands, whilst making a gift that provides a little bit of escapism from the everyday grind.

Kids will also love toe cuddle up with this in there bedroom for a sleepover with friends. They will have hours of fun watching with there friends and the durrability will make it last. This is a must have for the holiday season.

Pancake Printer- Revolutionize Breakfast

The PancakeBot is the world’s first pancake printer capable of automatically dispensing batter directly onto a griddle in the shape of the user’s choosing. Design your own pancake masterpiece using the free software or choose from the premade designs at pancakebot.com. A runaway success on Kickstarter, the PancakeBot helps kids and adults explore technology through food.