I’m sitting here, staring at a collection of gadgets that fall into a very specific category among fellow geeks.
Yep, I’m staring at a pile of “stuff” that includes a wide-ranging array of gadgets including wireless earbuds, portable chargers, smart home devices and, yes, even a keyboard. Sort of a smorgasbord of devices. And, as with any pile of delicacies, let’s start at the top.
The folks at 1More have hit the market with a set of True Wireless in-ear headphones ($99.95 retail, $119.95 when purchased via the company’s website) that, despite their name, resemble earbuds.
1More has the reputation of producing high-quality audio devices at affordable prices, and these little beauties carry on the tradition. The sound reproduction rivals those we’ve tested from Apple and Samsung that are $40 to $50 more than 1More’s sub-$100 price tag.
- Each earbud boasts up to 6.5 hours of battery life and can be recharged up to three times using the portable charging case
- Each earbud contains a noise-cancelling microphone.
- The earbuds can be used individually or be paired to listen to music
- There are multiple Bluetooth pairing modes
- The earbuds automatically turn on when removed from the case and turn off when returned to the case
- They’re available in multiple colors ranging from rose pink to midnight black
Macally does its bit for the environment with its new line of solar-powered wireless keyboards ($69.99 – $89.99 depending on the model).
The more expensive of its three solar keyboards connects to a Mac via Bluetooth, while the other two models use a radio frequency (RF) adapter that plugs into a computer’s USB port.
One of the major complaints we often have with wireless keyboards is so-called “lag time,” which is the time between a key being pressed and the letter appearing on the screen. Happily, as hard as we tried, we couldn’t detect any of this when using Macally’s device.
On the minus side, the keys aren’t backlit. This oversight may cause consumers to think twice when comparing it to its competitors, but we think the solar-power feature is worth the sacrifice.
Other features include:
- A built-in 600mAh battery that can last up to two months without a charge
- It uses all types of light sources to recharge, including sunlight and indoor lighting
- It has a 17-key numeric keypad
We delve into the realm of smart devices with the next two items, both of which work with your Apple or Android smartphone.
Sencentric’s SimpleSENCE water leak and freeze detector ($59.95) can be placed anywhere in your house and notify you when it detects water leaks and frozen pipes.
This small device connects to an app on your smartphone and alerts you when there’s a problem.
We tried it out in a damp basement and were able to find the source of a groundwater leak that periodically floods the area.
Other features include:
- Wrap-around water sensors
- It monitors ambient temperatures
- You get instant notifications on your phone when it detects a problem
- An audible alarm is activated, which is useful if you don’t have easy access to your phone
- It boasts a two-year battery life
- You can customize how you want to receive alerts including options for email and texts
The Currant Wifi Smart Outlet ($59.99) learns your electric-usage habits and suggests ways you can save money after analyzing that usage.
This is a dual plug adapter that plugs into any wall outlet and can be controlled using a smartphone or with vocal commands through Google Home or an Amazon Echo.
Of course it has all of the features you’d expect from a smart outlet – – – turns on/off lights, schedulting and remote access via your WiFi network. but it doesn’t stop there. It uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze your energy usage patterns and suggests solutions.
Next we drill down in the pile to two portable charging devices that can charge everything from smartphones to laptops.
The AdventureUltra from MyCharge ($124.99) is a 45-watt powerhouse that, the company says, can power an LCD TV for three hours.
We’re not sure about that, but we DO know it can provide enough of a battery boost to recharge almost any portable device up to eight times before needing a charge of its own.
The charger features:
- Two USB A ports
- One USB C port
- A rechargeable 13400mAh battery
- It can charge multiple devices simultaneously
- An LCD display that shows how much battery life is available
- It’s about the size of a smartphone
The Mu One multi-device charger ($54) uses Gallium Nitride power IC technology (GaNFast) from Navitas to pack tons of charging power in a thin, small device.
The one we tested was able to fully charge a smartphone in about 30 minutes.
Like the AdventureUlta, the Mu One can be used to charge everything from phones to laptops. Unfortunately it only has one USB C port so it can’t charge more than one device at a time.
- Its GaNFast technology, USB Power Delivery standard and an auto detect chip enables this 45-watt charger to detect the device connected to it and regulate the output so it doesn’t “fry” your smartphone or laptop
- It comes with British, EU and U.S. plug heads
- It’s three-times faster and half the weight and size of older silicon chargers
The last device is the Android-based Kwilt 2 personal cloud hub ($89) that can connect a web of multiple storage devices, enabling you to easily share data, photos, etc.
Although its not as versatile as its younger sibling, the Kwilt 3 ($149), the Kwilt 2 is able to handle the file handling demands of the average computer user.
It comes with three USB ports, an USB input port and an SD card slot, allowing you to, say, transfer pictures to a USB stick or a portable hard drive.
In addition, it features WiFi and Ethernet network connectivity, a 4K HDMI out port to connect to external monitors and a 16 GB memory stick.