Tim Hillebrand's blog

Reality Robots Launches Be The Robot (BERO) – Animated Mobile Robot Controlled by an Open Source App

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A four inch Google Android™ inspired robot reacts to smartphone notifications, avoids obstacles, dances to music and is fully controlled by a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone

Reality Robotics, established by experienced product developers of robotic toys such as DeskPets Tankbot and WowWee Robopanda, is excited to announce the Be The Robot (BERO) campaign now live on Kickstarter. BERO is the ultimate smartphone companion that uses an Android open source app to wirelessly control the robot.


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Wicked Audio Ear Buds

I received two pairs of Wicked Audio ear buds to review. Why a company with so many choices of ear appliances would want to produce two new models is a mystery. Obviously they must be an improvement over existing models.

Frankly, I don't see how the listening experience could be much better than what the Wicked Deuce and Mojo ear buds produce for your listening pleasure.

A warning comes on the package about using excessive volume. Without thinking I turned a little Mozart on my iPod and plugged in the buds. I thought my head would explode, and the volume was only cranked up half way.


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You Slide, It Scans

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Listen up Road Warriors. You need this handy, portable scanner. Once you have one, you won't leave home without it.

The IrisScan Book 2 scanner is compact measuring 10 inches in length and an inch high and wide. It weighs a mere seven ounces. So it won't cause any clutter in your travel bag.

There is a simple, initial, one-time, setup procedure. First, install the two AAA batteries that come with it. And then insert the 2 GB micro SD card that also comes with it. Power it up by holding down the Scan button for two seconds. Insert a paperclip into the format button hole.


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Edifier E3350BT Bluetooth Speakers Review

If you want a really classy Bluetooth speaker system to enhance your environment, you will want to check out the Edifier E3350BT system. Its absolutely stunning design will catch your eye. Its high quality output will capture your attention too.

The curved pyramid shaped subwoofer is flanked by two smaller speakers about a foot high.


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Hold it Right There: Prizm

They come in pairs, look like a new form of Japanese Ninja throwing knife. In fact, if the edges were sharpened, they might well function as such. Each piece has a slot that when fitted together properly become an attractive stand for digital devices.

These innovative device holders are called Prizms by Hub Innovations and come in two sizes. Most device holders are kinda clunky, but not the Prizm.

The larger size works well for iPods and 10 inch Androids in both landscape and portrait positions.


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a-Jays 4 Voice Optimized Ear Phones

There's always a pleasure in reviewing a quality product. The a-Jays ear Phone set is a winner in craftsmanship and sound quality.

The most difficult part was figuring out how to open the packaging. It comes in an oval plastic sleeve that seems to be tightly sealed top and bottom with no windows, doors or latches visible. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I finally got out my pliers and broke off the top. After that the innards slid out easily, and I was in business.

It is an attractive job of packaging though.


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Hold it right there: Arkon Products

I just returned from a road trip that was made more pleasant, productive, and convenient thanks to Arkon's versatile line of mounting products. It seems they have anticipated every mounting problem for digital devices possible and have solutions to suit your needs.

Whether you need to mount an iPhone, Android, or other Smartphone, Arkon has the answer. If you need to mount an iPad or tablet PC, Arkon can help you in the front seat or the back seat so the kids can be entertained.
I like to use my iPod and Android as GPS devices while driving. Arkon to the rescue.


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A Must Have Travel Companion: The Geneva XS Speaker System

For fear of dating myself, I remember not leaving home without a folding, windup, analog travel alarm clock. Now, there's probably not a hotel room in the world without a radio alarm clock. Now most people probably use their phone for waking up in the morning. But there's a better way.

I've discovered a speaker system to die for that does it all. The Geneva Sound System Model XS is highly portable. It folds into a study case measuring 6 1/4" x 3 3/4" x 1 1/2" making a compact unit in your suitcase. It weighs about one pound.


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Archos 80 G9 Tablet Review

My relationship with the Archos 80 series has been of growing interest with a few disappointments. Overall, I would say that it is a nice tablet worthy of your consideration depending on your needs.

I have to say I was not too impressed with the first Archos 80 I tried. The first problem with the 3.5 mm charger port, which only worked on occasion. I never could get the USB port to work, and it lacked an SD expansion slot.

As if by magic, somehow the developers received my concerns and addressed the issues in the next release.


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The Return of the Styli: Hand Stylus

Ah, I remember fondly the good old days of Windows Mobile and the precision pointing of the stylus and so many fewer typos. Then came the iPhone and a whole new generation of nose miners emerged gooping up the screen with greasy fingers and worse. I for one am tired of gummy screens and applaud the resurgence of the stylus.

Now a stylus could be nothing more than a wad of aluminum foil, but thanks to Hand Stylus there is an attractive line of styli out there with your choice of colors.


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AOC 16" USB Portable LED Monitor

Every once in a while I get a gadget I can't wait to tell everyone about. That's the case with the AOC 16" portable USB powered monitor. It's a road warrior's dream come true with its light weight and portability. It works with both PC and MAC.

Once you have installed the appropriate driver, you just plug the provided USB cable into a port on your laptop and the other end into the mini USB port in the monitor, and bazingo, you are in business.


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The Griffin Beacon Remote Control

The Griffin Beacon is a universal remote control for IOS devices. You can pair an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with the unit via Bluetooth. The Beacon then converts the signals to Infrared to transmit to your TV.

After your devices are paired via Bluetooth the next step is to download the dijit app from the iTunes store. It's free. The Beacon's Bluetooth range is about 30 feet. It will stay connected for about 60 minutes and reconnect when you move back in range.

After 60 minutes, Beacon switches to low power mode to conserve battery life.


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Griffin Smart Talk Solar

With more and more states getting on the bandwagon and making illegal to talk on a cell phone or text while driving, it's a good idea to have a safe solution that will allow you to talk hands free. Here comes Griffin Smart Talk Solar to the rescue. I can't tell you how it makes me shutter when I see a soccer mom with a van full of kids yacking away on her phone. I don't even want to think about texting while you drive.

What makes Smart Talk special is that it is solar powered thus eliminating the unsightly and cumbersome power cord of other hands free devices.


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Cellink U: a veritable Swiss Army Knife

What will Cellink U do for you? It's an amazing multifunctional Swiss Army Knife everyone will want to have in his or her pocket.

It's a power backup. If you run out of battery on your mobile device, Cellink U can come to the rescue. It will give you an extra 90 minutes of talk time. or two days of standby time. It is supposed to give your device battery a 40% charge boost. It can be used with phones, GPS, cameras, and other mobile devices.

You can charge this Cellink Uback up battery pack from your computer, car, or AC source.


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Cellink U: a veritable Swiss Army Knife

What will Cellink U do for you? It's an amazing multifunctional Swiss Army Knife everyone will want to have in his or her pocket.

It's a power backup. If you run out of battery on your mobile device, Cellink U can come to the rescue. It will give you an extra 90 minutes of talk time. or two days of standby time. It is supposed to give your device battery a 40% charge boost. It can be used with phones, GPS, cameras, and other mobile devices.

You can charge this Cellink Uback up battery pack from your computer, car, or AC source.


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CoPilot GPS app now available for iOS and Android--FREE!

I remember when I got my first Android phone I was thrilled with the navigation capabilities of Google Maps, which guided me on a 400 mile trip to Seattle. I wasn't so thrilled when I found out what it cost me in usage charges from my service provider. And that was the last time I used Google Maps for navigation. I wasn't too happy about AT&T's navigation for pay either.

At that time ALK Technologies, the developer for CoPilot Live had not entered the iPhone or Android market yet.


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New Bracketron Universal Car Mount

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I am always in search of the perfect solution for mounting my phone while driving. Some solutions are better than others.

I am not overly fond of blocking my driving view on my windshield. I don't like to give up cup holder for mount space. I don't like covering up my A/C vents with a mount.

Bracketron's new universal mount uses the cigarette lighter or contact point port to hold a flexible neck mount that also charges your device.

It comes with a Micro USB cable, so if you use another kind of cable, you are on your own.


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New VoIP Adapter: free calls forever

Lose your landline, lose MagicJack. Get OBi100 VoIP adapter for $39.99 and make FREE calls over the Internet forever. It kinda bugged me when MagicJack raised their rates by 10 bucks a year to a captive audience this year. Well, here's something you can do about it. Get an OBi100 unit.

The Obi100 phone adapter plugs into your router for Internet connectivity. Then it makes calls using an interface like Google Voice. Of course you have to configure it to your Google Voice account or another service such as Sipgate, so it's not quite plug and play.


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Cord Cruncher: a must have

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Cord Cruncher is just over 18" in length. On one end, you have the standard 3.5 mm audio jack. On the other end are two comfy, padded ear plugs. In the middle is a length of rubber tubing. Mine is blue, but it comes in a choice of three patriotic colors: red, white, and blue.

To extend the wires to their full length, just grab on the ear plugs and gently pull them out of the tubing for your listening pleasure.

When you are done listening and want to store the wires for future use without tangling, you just hold both ends of the tubing and pull until the wires are totally encased.


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Helo TC Review

I have rarely had so much fun and so much frustration at the same time. Flying the Helo TC is not the easiest task in the world. It takes a little skill and a learning curve. The controls are delicate and you need some space to maneuver until you get your skills down pat.

Helo TC is a twin rotor remote control helicopter that is superbly engineered. It lights up like Ferris wheel and is sturdy as a house despite its seemingly delicate appearance.


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