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The Solio Bolt Solar Charger is a great way to power your small devices when on the go, in the wilderness, or if you just want to start playing the solar game a little bit. Solio gave me the opportunity to test the Bolt this spring.
Solio Bolt Solar Charger Features
- Panels: 2
- Charge time: 8-10 hours in sun, 4.5 from wall
- Battery: Lithium, included
- Charge connections: USB / wall
- Materials: Polycarbonate
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches
- Weight: 5.3 ounces
- Price: $65
Solio Bolt Solar Charger ReviewOverall I thought the Solio Bolt Solar Charger was decent. The compact swivel design keeps the footprint in your pack or pocket small, a little bigger than a pack of playing cards. When closed one of the panels is protected but the outer is always exposed. At 5.3 ounces it doesn't cause much of a weight issue. Battery life is great. Once charged the Bolt holds battery life for a relatively long time without losing the charge. Recharging capabilities are decent, depending on what device you have. Off of a full Bolt charge I could charge my iPod Touch 2 full times. I hear you can get similar performance for the iPhone. I had challenges charging my Samsung Galaxy 2s. I could never get a full charge off of the Bolt. The last time I charged it, it only got from 0 to about 50% charge and stopped. There was still charge left in the Bolt so I started charging again and reached 65% charge. That was it. Solar charging time is okay. It takes 8-10 hours of full, direct sunlight to charge the Bolt. It does require you to shift its position so it's always in the direct sun path. I don't know about you but I never did that. At home it stayed in the kitchen window and took a few days to fully charge. If you think about wilderness trips this would be more difficult to achieve. If your backpacking you'd have constantly move it around which would be a hassle. Additionally, clouds, shadows, or not being in the direct path of sun rays (I.e. the angle is slightly off) decreases efficiency to the point of potentially not charging. The panels are made of inexpensive materials that really contribute to this drop in performance. More expensive panels can still charge if partially blocked or if not in the direct path of sunlight. The Bolt has a solid base to hold position for charging when paired with the included pencil to get the desired angle. Charging on the move is a challenge. The single hole makes for difficult lashing. If you are stationary, it does great. Solio has made a huge leap forward putting the USB port directly on the Bolt. Past models required you to buy a bunch of different adapters to fit your device. Now you can use whatever standard USB cord you already use. While charging on the move is difficult I really like the Bolt as my backup battery. I like to make sure it's fully charged when I leave and when I run out of juice, I just plug into the Bolt to get the charge I need. The Good
- Small, lightweight
- Holds a charge well
- Great price point
- Long solar charge time
- Must be in full, direct sunlight to efficiently charge (and sometimes charge at all)
Bottom Line:The Solio Bolt is a great way to get into the solar game and is a great backup battery. Buy Now: Pick up the Solio Bolt Solar Charger[gallery]... Read more...
Looking to film your latest epic? Consider the Drift HD Point-of-View Camera for your filming needs, especially if you've got some mad filming skills and are looking for a camera that can keep up with them.
Drift HD Point-of-View Camera Details
- Maximum video resolution: 1080p High Definition
- Capable of taking still photos
- 4x digital zoom
- 170° Fully Rotatable Wide Angle Lens
- LCD Display Screen
- Water Resistant
- Camera includes flat surface mount, rounded surface mount, goggle mount, handlebar mount, remote and camera
- MSRP: $369.00
Drift HD Point-of-View Camera ReviewNever having owned a Point-of-View camera before (or a video camera, for that matter), I was super stoked to take the Drift out backcountry skiing with me to chronicle some of the amazing terrain I have the opportunity to be skiing right now. After about a month of use, I have what is far from epic footage and a healthy respect for people who can make their own helmet cam videos look remotely cool. While the Drift is relatively easy to operate, capturing that perfect segment of shredding from an angle that makes it look rad as opposed to flat and boring is not nearly so simple. I'm definitely still working on that! However, since I'm reviewing the Drift and not my own personal cinematography skills, lets get to that. Overall, the Drift has some amazing features. The 170 degree lens allows you to really get the scope of the terrain you're in or on. The remote allows for easy on and off of the camera, and saves you battery life and editing time later on. The Drift is also the only POV camera that comes with an LCD screen, which I love! You can see what you're filming, ensure that the camera is in fact on and ready to go, and you can also navigate the menu from looking at that LCD screen. The menu allows you to edit the camera settings, the settings of the video itself (1080p or 720p, adjust frames per second, etc), and the settings of the still photo mode (frame rate). While I like (ok, LOVE) the remote, and like the LCD display, I honestly didn't use too many of the other features. I'd toss the camera on my goggles at the top of the climb, press the button to turn it on, and then use the remote to start recording. Overall, that's about what I wanted out a point of view camera- just point and shoot. I'm hoping to continue to learn about the features and utilize them more, but at this point, they just weren't something I needed. Drift seems to have gone above and beyond in their selection of features for the Drift HD. The remote (yup, we're talking about that again) not only allows you to start and stop video without banging at your head, but it provides a "beep" noise when the button has been pushed to let you know that you've started/stopped filming. The lens itself is replaceable, so if you accidentally scratch it, your whole camera isn't trashed. The rotating lens allows for mounting on the side of a helmet or the top of a helmet while still filming the same thing. The Drift HD comes with a low-light/night filming mode, which is awesome up here when the sun doesn't come up til 10:30am. Along with an integrated microphone, the Drift HD comes with the capability of hooking up an external mic, so you could get clear, crisp narration if you wanted. All of these smaller features really indicate that Drift has put a lot of thought into the Drift HD.
- The remote is awesome! I love that there is no fiddling around with your head when you want to start filming, and the auditory feedback beep that confirms it has started is also pretty awesome.
- Rubberized exterior makes it easy to grab a hold of, gloves on or not.
- The Drift comes with several mounts when you purchase the camera. Add up how much they'd cost you to buy independently and it's around $75 bucks... When you factor that into the total Drift price, which originally seems significantly steeper than your average POV camera, it brings the overall cost down quite a bit.
- The Drift HD, Drift's newest model, is smaller and more aerodynamic than previous Drifts. So if you've looked at one before but thought it was too clunky, check out the Drift HD. It's shorter, skinnier and weighs just 4.86 oz. Unless my research is wrong, that makes the Drift one of the lighter cameras on the market.
- If you're not super camera savvy, a lot of the features are not super important to you. For example, the difference between 720, 1080, etc, doesn't mean a lot to your average Joe. While I understand that this is what makes the Drift an incredibly versatile camera, you might be paying for features you're not going to use.
- The "quick guide" that the Drift comes with doesn't provide a ton of information. To learn more about features of the camera and how to use them, I had to go to the Drift website and search for the information there. I was surprised there wasn't a more detailed manual included with the camera.
Check It OutDrift HD Camera... Read more...
Have you ever wanted to look like a total gadget hipster in the backcountry? Brunton has exactly what you need to charge your iPhone for late night Angry Birds tourneys and catch up on the latest celebrity rehab biographies on your Amazon Kindle. The Brunton Solaris 4 Foldable Solar Panel will keep you scoring 3 stars well into the night - batteries not needed.
- Weatherproof material, but lightweight.
- Output - 5 volts 800 mA aka. in 30 min. your dead iPhone is fully charged.
- Weight 6.3 oz.
- It's got solar panels
Using a Solar Panel in the BackcountryGet ready to get made fun of. Get ready for the "What do you need that for?" comment. And get ready to have the last laugh while all your junk is fully charged. Compared to the Solio models, the Brunton solar cells are definitely a lot more concentrated and have a higher output. I could tell even in overcast I was still getting a charge, not much but something. One thing I noticed quickly is having the panel positioned correctly is crucial for a charge. Almost annoyingly crucial. While my friends were cooking breakfast, I spent at least 10 min. wrestling the solar panel and looking like a total goober doing it. But once you get the position right, the output is strong. A great accessory I snagged off eBay for a couple bucks was a AA/AAA battery USB charger. That came in handy since my Black Diamond Apollo lantern was COMPLETELY dead on my trip last week. And no, I'm not an Eagle Scout. Can't you tell?
Improvements for the next modelI noticed quickly that all the panels had to be taking in the UV rays to get a charge. It would be great to have a combined and solitary power output in the event you can't get strong rays to all the panels. That may sound lame but I found in the thick trees I would walk around camp like a lost dog looking for strong rays for all the panels. Battery storage can be nice to have but does add weight. The Solaris is simple; plug in and charge, no buttons. A USB external storage would come in handy if you have strong rays to stockpile energy for later, but now we are really excelling to a higher level of nerdery. (<---- Firefox is saying 'nerdery' is spelled wrong. Nope, it's a word. I just made it up.)
In Summary....Last week I backpacked with a handful of youth for 5 days. I was super glad I brought this along to keep my Kindle app replenished and healthy to avoid conversations about the latest funny YouTube video. This piece a gear is a staple for even keeping batteries charged. My Magellan GPS unit from 1974 was sucking the battery life like a Diet Coke addict. I think two years ago solar panels were weak and still needed refinement. Brunton delivers with the Solaris. Let the backcountry Angry Birds tourneys begin! BUY NOW:The Brunton Solaris Foldable Solar Panel on gear.com. [gallery]... Read more...
Since I started bike commuting four years ago I've wanted to get a bike computer but I never knew what to get. It seems like there are so many companies, so many styles, and the range of what they track is so wide. I couldn't ever make up my mind. I was stoked when Planet Bike sent me a Protege 8.0 Computer to review. The Protege 8.0 gave me all the info I wanted to know for my commute and kept it in a simple, clean design that is extremely easy to set up and use.
Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer Features
- Auto start/stop and LCD shut off
- Large LCD screen that shows 5 pieces of info at one time
- Heavy-duty, oversized wire harness and ultrasonically welded case ensure a durable, weatherproof unit
- Fits handlebars 25.4-26.0mm
- Current speed
- Speed comparator
- Ride time
- Trip distance
- Dual odometer (for 2 wheel sizes)
- Average speed
- Maximum speed
- Price: $29.99
Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer ReviewThe two most noticeable features of the Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer are the large LCD screen and the lack of buttons. The screen is big enough that it shows 5 pieces of information at one time. Your current speed always stays on screen as well as the speed comparator. The speed comparator is just and up arrow and a down arrow. It shows how you are doing compared to your average speed. If you are faster, you see up, if you are slower, you see down. It's as simple as that. You can toggle through a few different combinations of the ride time, trip distance, trip odometer, bike odometer, overall odometer, average speed, max speed, and clock. For my bike commute, and all of my rides actually, this is all the info that I want to know. I don't really care about any other fancy metrics that other cycling computers tout. The lack of buttons was the second feature that I noticed. While riding all of the screen views are controlled by pushing the computer forward in the mounting bracket and releasing. Super easy to control and the functionality is simple. Just push to change screens. Want to erase the current ride information? Just push the computer forward and hold for three seconds and voila! No press this button and hold and then press this and blink five times to clear it. Set up is a breeze. The instructions that come with the computer are easy to follow and the set up process is simple. It details how to mount to the bike, gives you the programming information for about 8 common wheel and tire sizes (if your tire size isn't listed the directions to measure are simple), and walks you through everything step-by-step. The back of the computer does feature one small programming button. Another feature that I like is you can program two different tire sizes (essentially two different bikes) into the computer and use the same computer for two different bikes and be able to track your stats for both bikes as well as an overall odometer for the computer. To switch between bikes just press the button on the back of the computer. The display shows you which bike the computer is currently running for. But it does only come with mounting hardware for one bike, you have to purchase the mounting hardware for your second bike. The computer is waterproof which is great for bike commuting. I had it out on a few rainy rides and didn't experience any problems at all. There are a couple of drawbacks that I did find. It is really hard to remove from the mounting bracket. Every time I take it out I have to push so hard I think I'm going to break it. Also it'd be nice to have a backlight when commuting in low-light conditions. And it'd be nice to have a wireless option for this computer. Planet Bike does offer a wireless option for the Protege 9.0 though. Overall, this is a great, basic bike computer. The price is fantastic, it's very easy on the wallet, it provides the functions that I think most users would want, the display is big and easy to read, and it is very user friendly. I don't need to look anymore for a bike computer, I have one that I'll keep using for a long time. The Good
- Big Screen
- No Buttons
- Program for 2 Bikes
- Easy to Use
- Easy Setup
- No Backlight
- Hard to remove from mounting bracket
- Only comes with one mountain bracket
Bottom Line:The Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer is a fantastic cycling computer. It provides the functions that most people will want, it doesn't have the stuff that you don't need, it's extremely user-friendly, and features a great design. Buy Now: Pick up the Planet Bike Protege 8.0 Computer ... Read more...
For all those amateurs out there ready to "Go Pro", I believe this camera will bring you to the next level. It can't promise sponsors or face time with Sage, but it can deliver some serious HD footage of your mediocre skills. I've been playing with this camera for a couple weeks now and I had different results. Pretty much every company wants to sponsor me and all the TGR skiers are trying to ping me on twitter, sorry guys, no time. I wish.
GoPro Camera Specs
- Three different options: Helmet, Motorsports, Surf.
- Price ranges from $269-$299. You'll want the Helmet Hero - $299.
- Record in 1080p/960p/720p HD resolutions.
- Shoot up to 60fps
- 2.5 hrs of shooting on lithium battery.
- Waterproof case.
- Outside and Indoor shooting modes
- Built-in Microphone
- 5mp still shots
- SD card storage
- 3.3 oz
Using The GoPro CameraFirst advice: Don't throw away the manual. This camera takes some getting use to. When you are setting up the settings with modes and resolution, that manual has to be next to you. Make sure to fully charge the camera before starting to use. The input for charging is the same as a Blackberry charger which is super cool and even worked with my Solio magnesium charger. Double score! The waterproof case works seamlessly with the camera. From turning it on, recording, and pointing it up and down from the mount. I had it mounted on my handlebars and had to change a flat tire, flipped the bike upside down and completely slammed the camera into the ground. It scuffed the case but that's about it, tough little bugger. Pressing the on and off button takes getting use to. As I was mountain biking I messed up and didn't record what I thought I was recording. You really have to turn off the iPod and listen for the beeping for recording and standby. Hot Tip: In the settings, leave the beeping 'on', totally worth it. There is a red LED that flashes on the front of the camera to show if its recording or on/off. I wish GoPro would have put this on the rear of the camera or the top. When the camera is mounted on your helmet it doesn't matter but when you have it on the handlebars or your chest this would help a TON.
Using GoPro AccessoriesI was very impressed with the ease and functionality of the many accessories offered for the GoPro. Hot Tip: When mountain biking, don't record while the camera is on your chest. The footage sucks. The chest mount would be great for kayaking because if you roll, you don't want this camera dragging on the rocks below you. As for skiing, the helmet is the way to go, from what I've seen the "Pros" do. Up high gives you more range with the wide angle lens. Definitely use the handlebar mount for biking or the helmet mount. On the helmet you'll have less vibration but the handlebar is easier to turn on and off. Hot Tip: Definitely turn on and off, the battery burns up easily (maybe from the blinking and beeping?). The strap mount is also pretty sweet. I strapped it to my ankle for long boarding and it was super slick. From their website, skiers are mounting the camera to their ski pole down by the basket and holding it up in the air shooting down. Very cool footage to be had. Definitely keep all the screws and mounts together when possible because they work together well. I even combined a couple pieces and attached the camera to my rear triangle of my road bike. Kinda dorky but it was cool that I could film my leg hair waving in the wind while riding.
GoPro QualityThe camera is tough. It's basically this teeny metal box that is tough as nails. The fact that you can throw in a SD card makes this the ultimate versatile hands-free camera. I'm not the most hardcore person out there (You probably thought I was huh?) but the footage I've taken comes out crystal clear. Within minutes of filming, I can drop the footage on my iMovie and export it to my iTunes and then to my Apple TV. On my 95 inch flat screen it comes out great....whoa did I just say 95? Sorry I meant 42. When I had the Flip Video I was so frustrated the footage never worked with my software because they wanted you to use their clunky hunk o' junk program.
Final ThoughtsIf GoPro put the LED light on the top and back of the camera for recording and on/off, that would improve this product. I think the next big accessory for this would be a wireless wrist remote on/off and record device. That would be the next level so you don't look like too much of a gomer on the trail fiddling with your electronics. BUY NOW: The GoPro HD Camera and accessories on Gear.com. Check out my SPOT Adventure for where I took the GoPro camera.... Read more...
Today I received the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor in the mail. This is the big mammajamma from Timex. I don't know if they'd say it, but this is their top watch. I've wanting to get a training watch for awhile now (you know, something that has more than a stopwatch) but have never pulled the trigger on any. I know people are generally fairly polarized when it comes to their training watches. As of right now I'm neutral. I can't wait to get out and see what this watch (read: mini computer) can do.
Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor Features
- Featuring SiRFstarIII™ GPS technology, the watch quickly locks on to satellite signals to measure pace, speed and distance in real time
- Watch measures your location and tracks altitude ascent and descent distances and rates
- Records up to 100 GPS waypoints so you can find your way home or create custom routes; recall up to 50 custom routes so you can track your pace
- Included heart rate chest strap takes continuous readings of your heart rate and sends them to the watch so you can monitor how your body is performing
- Adjustable and flexible elastic strap makes the sensor comfortable to wear; ANT™ technology eliminates cross talk with other heart rate monitors
- Custom heart rate target zones help maximize performance, whether your goal is to burn fat or train for a race; visual and audible alarms alert you when you fall out of a zone
- Watch counts and displays calories burned during a training session
- Customize the display to show up to 4 windows of information so you can monitor pace, distance, split time and heart rate all at the same time
- Chronograph with interval and countdown timers lets you develop personal workouts that will help you improve your performance
- Performance pacer mode helps you meet goals and set personal records
- Watch is water resistant to 50m (165 ft.)
- Download your workout and route data and analyze it using online training software
- Customize and manage watch settings using the included desktop software; compatible with Microsoft Windows XP and newer as well as Mac OS X 10.4 and newer
- Recharge the internal lithium-ion battery by connecting the watch to your computer with the included USB cable or plug it into the wall with the included AC adapter
- Compatible with Timex bike sensors (sold separately) that use ANT+™ wireless technology; also compatible with third-party bike power sensors using ANT+
- Watch includes a bike mount
- Price: $299
First Impression of the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Sport Watch with Heart Rate MonitorWhen I first heard about the watch I was expecting something crazy. I don't know what exactly what I was thinking but it's not crazy at all. Take a regular Timex Ironman, blow it up by 4x and you have the Ironman Global Trainer GPS Watch. The Global Trainer GPS watch is big. I mean BIG. It's the biggest watch I've ever put on my wrist. When I first saw the watch I thought it had to weight at least a pound. I envisioned running with it and not being able to keep my arm up. That was quickly dispelled. The watch is surprisingly light given it's size. Timex doesn't provide a weight on its website, neither do a couple of retailers I checked. My mailing scale registers it at 3 ounces. Not too bad for the biggest watch I've ever seen or put on my wrist. I've haven't done a deep dive into how to use the watch yet (that comes after writing this post). After a quick flip through the short user guide provided it doesn't seem like a very complicated watch to use. (Note: I have heard about other GPS watches that are ridiculous to try and use) I am super stoked to get out and start using it. I imagine that there will be a few posts related to this watch after my initial uses and then again after I get more acquainted and log more time in it. I also imagine the uploading and tracking of data will have a post. For those who don't want to wait...Buy Now: Pick up the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor ... Read more...
Capitol Reef has been on my list of National Parks to visit since moving to Utah several years ago. I've taken a keen interest in photography lately and received a recommendation to visit the park during desert bloom for some good photos. For the last month or so, I've been calling to get an update on the desert bloom status and finally visited this past weekend, a bit later than usual due to the weather this year.
Capitol Reef National Park is a 3.5 to 4 hour drive from Salt Lake City, situated west of the Arches and Canyonlands and northeast of Zion and Bryce. From an adventure perspective, Capitol Reef and the surrounding area offers hiking, climbing, biking, and kayaking. For this weekend visit, my friend Lindsey and I dragged ourselves away from the real world to focus on hiking and photography.
We arrived on Friday around lunchtime and started with the Cassidy Arch hike, a 3.5 mile strenuous hike with 1,150 feet elevation gain to the Cassidy Arch above the Grand Wash valley. This hike offered stunning views of the surrounding landscape and even allows you to walk out on the arch! After the Cassidy Arch hike, we headed to the Fremont River trail, a 3.5 mile moderate hike with 770 feet elevation gain overlooking the Fruita valley. With winds at the top of the valley, I convinced Lindsey to participate in my traditional cheesy National Park jumping photo. After we hurried back to the car, we made our way to Panorama Point in hopes of getting some decent sunset shots. As it turns out, I would recommend being at Panorama Point or the nearby Sunset Point about a half an hour before sunset for good photos and we missed this mark by 15 minutes or so.The sun sets facing on the west facing features of the park providing some nice light for photos.
The next morning, we headed into the park to get some early sunlight photos of the Fremont River and encountered a pack of deer at their morning breakfast spot along the road. We took a quick break and headed to hike Cohab Canyon, another 3.5 mile hike overlooking the Fruita valley. This was my favorite hike of the trip: several slot canyons spurred off the main trail and we took our time exploring those. Later that day, Lindsey and I took on the Chimney Rock hike, another 3.5 mile hike loop on the west side of the park. This hike offered incredible panoramic views and would be a potentially nice sunrise hike for the east facing features. Finally, we headed back to Sunset Point and got a few nice sunset shots, but unfortunately clouds came out a bit before sunrise.
On our third morning, we woke up early for sunrise to snow and planned to hike to Hickman Bridge based on a visitor center recommendation for a nice sunrise hike. But, we were too lazy and quite exhausted from all the hiking and passed up the opportunity. Lindsey and I later headed out to look for the Fremont River waterfall, located near mile 85 on Utah 24. We took a few shots and made our way back through the park attractions and then traveled back to Salt Lake City.
From a hiking and photography perspective, the trip was a success. The hikes we chose offered quite a variety in difficulty and scenery. We ate camping friendly food like bagels and sandwiches and stayed in a cabin at a local friendly RV park with internet and power! I'd love to go back as there are a handful of strenuous hikes that we didn't get to in our 2 day visit. I'm also interested in visiting the area with biking and rock climbing in mind, but there's never enough time in the day! The weather for this time of year was unusually cold - I look forward to going back when temperatures are above freezing at sunrise and sunset.
I shot with a Canon 7D and Lindsey shot with a Canon Rebel and we brought a number of Canon and Sigma lenses including a standard telephoto, wide angle, macro and primary 50mm, but my lens of choice was the standard telephoto since it offered the most variety. My favorite piece of gear was my R-Strap, offered by blackrapid.com, a camera strap that has single-handedly influenced me to bring my camera everywhere.... Read more...
I've gone through several different types of iPhone cases to protect my handheld investment, but none are more unique than the Uncommon iPhone case I created for myself. A "custom" iPhone case, you ask? Yup... and you can do it too! Uncommon utilizes their proprietary 3D TATT™ (Thermo-Active Transdermal Technology™) process to embed the colors into the plastic for a long-lasting, durable finish. With their iPhone cases, you can choose from their vast array of existing artwork or upload your own. I went the for the upload route to see how the process works and the result was fantastic. The imagery is clear and crisp and I've now got a great iPhone case with a beautiful, personal photo on the back. The process is simple:
- Create an account at GetUncommon.com
- Upload your photos or artwork
- Preview the photo on a simulated case
- Place the order
On my surfing trip out on the pacific northwest coast, I got to take a pretty cool new gadget with me! Piled into my Tacoma, along with the dog gear, surfboards, wetsuits, camping supplies and people was my GoPro Surf Hero Camera. This sweet camera fits in the palm of your hand, mounts to your wrist, your surfboard (or a helmet, for other sports), and it's waterproof! I was able to take pictures under water, in the water and take videos of my horrible attempts to surf!
GoPro Hero Cameras- The Specs
- Mounting info: The hero cameras are intended for action sports- so depending on which mount systems you purchase, you can take it on your wrist, mounted to your surfboard, mounted to a helmet, or mounted to a part of your car. The specific model I tested, the Surf Hero, can mount to your surfboard (via a sticky plate on the front, or a mounting system that uses the hole in the back of the board where your leash threads through), or you can wear it on your wrist. I opted to wear it on my wrist when I used it. Couldn't quite bring myself to permanently mount anything to my baby.
- Camera: The Hero series cameras now come in High-Def. So when you purchase a HD Hero, you are getting a 1080p 5 megapixel HD camera.
- Audio: Built in microphone, with automatic gain control. I was really impressed with how well the camera picks up sound.
- Storage: The Hero uses an SD card to store pics and video. Not included. I'd recommend a larger card, so that you don't have to deal with clearing out video and pics during the day.
- Power: Runs on 4 AAA batteries. Recommended lithium.
- Housing: Waterproof to 180 feet.
- Size: 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.2”
Surf Hero- The Good
- You can take pictures and video while surfing! I know, this sounds stupid as one of the "good" features, but really! Helmet cams have been around for a while now, but GoPro ventured into the water with the Surf Hero, and it's awesome. Now, you can show your friends videos and pictures of all the sweet waves you rocked, instead of just talking about 'em.
- Excellent picture and sound quality considering the size of the camera! Check out some of the pictures I've loaded- all were taken with the Surf Hero.
- Super lightweight! Despite mounting it to my wrist, I hardly ever noticed it when I was paddling out. With housing, the Surf Hero weighs about 6 oz.
- Photo modes: When you've got the Surf Hero in Picture mode, you have a choice of single shot mode, triple shot mode, self timer mode, or auto shoot mode, which will take pictures every 2/5/10/30/60 seconds, depending on how you set it. Awesome for getting pictures of a whole ride in! You don't have to stop and snap, it does it for you.
Surf Hero- The Bad
- Buttons- with gloves on, it's hard to manipulate the "shoot" and "select" buttons for choosing which mode, and then taking pictures.
- After reading the manual, and playing around with the camera for a bit, I still had a fair amount of trouble selecting the correct mode. I would end up with continuous pictures shooting when I wanted video, video when I wanted self timer, etc. While I'm sure that this would ease with more use, the overall initial user friendliness was a little dissapointing.
- Wrist mount- awesome for when you want the camera to go with you, not your board. However, the wrist mount clearly wasn't made for people with smaller arms. I had to rig my own duct tape deal to make sure it stayed on, because even secured at the smallest setting, it was too big for my wrist.
- Battery life: even with the lithium batteries, I was getting about 2 hours of use before having to change the batteries.
- If you're used to immediate feedback when taking digital pictures, don't expect that from the Surf Hero. To keep it light and small, there is no playback LCD screen on the camera. You just have to wait til you upload those pictures and be surprised!
Surf Hero- Bottom LineI was impressed! Despite some technical difficulties, I was stoked to have my Surf Hero with me. I got some beautiful pictures, and I know that as I get more familiar with how to operate it, I'll get even more. It's already packed in my "Surf Box," along with my wetsuit and board wax, ready for my next surfing adventure.
Buy NowCheck out the Surf Hero Cameras or other Go Pro Cameras through our vendors!... Read more...
Earth-friendly should be the norm these days, but unfortunately it's not. While many outdoor gear manufacturers have adopted eco practices, some either don't have the budget or simply have yet to jump in whole-hog. At the other end of the spectrum are a growing number of companies who have been focused on sustainability and eco-friendly materials since inception. I think of Nau as a great example (though the road has been difficult) and frankly, Patagonia has made huge efforts in this area with a dedicated sustainability push for years. A great fact about Patagonia is that 77% of all their products are recyclable through Common Threads.
Ecogear Backs and PacksI was recently introduced to Ecogear which is another example of a company who has built their business on sustainable sourcing and materials. They are quietly providing simple and functional everyday bags for school, work and travel palatable price points. Though not super-technical (meaning you won't take them up Denali), Ecogear provides stylish messenger bags, duffles, backpacks, handbags and luggage for kids and adults alike. Some styles are a little vanilla (just being honest), but many are hip and fun while using RPET (recycled plastic bottles), PVC-free nylons, organic cotton, non-toxic dyes, recycled plastic hardware and wood accents. Kudos! Again... not technical bags for your next backcountry ascent, but great, affordable options that are working hard to be light on the environment. More Info: Visit Ecogear-Products.com... Read more...
Electronic devices, argon gases... what will the modern ski jacket look like next? Well, the future is now with the all-new Mountain Hardwear Radiance and Refugium jackets that include a built-in, flexible battery pack to power the integrated heating elements or external devices such as mobile phones or an iPod.
Cold and unconnected? Mountain Hardwear solves both problems this winter with the industry’s first pre-wired jacket that not only provides on-demand heating, but also simultaneously provides power and re-charging capabilities for handheld electronics including GPS devices, PDAs, MP3 players and digital cameras. More than 60 percent of the U.S. population uses handheld electronics to stay connected, oriented and entertained, whether riding a lift, skiing in the backcountry, attending a winter sporting event, or walking the streets of SoHo. Mountain Hardwear partnered with Ardica Technology, the creators of the Ardica Moshi Power System, to deliver today’s “plugged in” consumer this year’s jacket of choice. Now available at retail, Mountain Hardwear® Men’s Refugium and Women’s Radiance jackets are designed with a specialized, integrated pocket to accommodate the portable Ardica Moshi Power System, which provides power necessary to generate heat into critical areas of the jackets, as well as power for handheld devices through cables located in the jacket pockets.Learn more: Visit Mountain Hardwear.com... Read more...
- Enjoy 8.6 hours of continuous heat on the low setting, and 3 hours on the high setting.
- Runs power on any electronic accessory requiring less than 10 watts - cell phones, MP3 Music Players, GPS devices, lights, satellite phones.
- Rechargeable power source. Charge electronics by a USB cable (included) – provides approximately 20 charges without needing a recharge.
Who would have thought we could ever bring along portable energy to keep our electronics afloat in the outdoors? Portable solar energy has been out for a while now making the Solio Magnesium refined and powerful. On my trip to Alaska last year I packed along the Solio Hybrid 1000, which didn't impress me with the power output and it seemed like it took forever to charge. The Solio Skinny I wasn't quite sure how many watts my iPhone was going to need. I thought something is better than nothing. I found that its not how many watts the electronic uses, its the time frame to charge in relation to how many panels you have. Which depends on how many watts the panel can generate. The magnesium charge time is noticeably shorter than the hybrid and can hold more energy. I also noticed the hybrid was very sensitive when it came to overcast conditions and didn't charge that well. The magnesium three blade design seems to establish a better chance to get all the solar rays possible in overcast conditions. This also helps attached it to bungee cords as seen here with my Columbia Mobex trail pack. We all go with iGo® The magnesium is the first Solio model compatible with iGo tips. Netbook to iPhone to most Dell laptops, iGo has a tip to keep you powered up. I can even get an iGo tip for the Macbook Pro I'm currently using to write this post. When I was using my hybrid 1000 I was a bit frustrated with all the extra cord I had to track down to plug in my iPhone. This iGo tip has been a big relief because it requires less cord and pieces meaning less stuff to keep track of. Magnesium Difference The material used for the Mag is leaps and bounds more durable than the classic. For the couple months I've had the Mag I've banged it up quite a bit, not on purpose of course. The three blade fan design protects at least two of the panels where the Hybrid 1000 is always exposed. Water resistant? I wouldn't take this swimming but I accidentally left the Mag out in the rain over night and it did just fine. The port has a rubber seal to protect which is very solid. The Classic model is almost the same as the Mag but doesn't have the iGo compatibility, durable build, or watt output. Mag Charging Facts
- Fully charged mag can charge device 3.5 times (Classic - 2 times)
- 8 watt output (Classic - 6w, Hybrid 1000 - 4w)
- 1 hour in the sun = 20 min. talk/30 min. music
SPOT LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, Inc. (Nasdaq:GSAT) and a leader in personal satellite messaging and emergency communications, today introduced its new SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger™. The new SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger is 30% smaller and lighter than the original SPOT Satellite personal tracker, offers additional custom messaging modes, and uses a state-of-the-art GPS chipset and satellite communications to provide enhanced reliability and performance. SPOT LLC is showcasing its line of products and services this week at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"Since market introduction, the award-winning original SPOT has initiated more than 250 rescues and sent millions of peace-of-mind and track-me messages around the world. We have listened to our customers' suggestions and are proud to introduce today the second-generation SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger with its increased features and utility," said Darren Bassel, director of global marketing, SPOT LLC. "Today's announcement further demonstrates our continued commitment to expand our product line and develop integrated services like SPOT Assist roadside assistance providing advanced personal satellite communications to increase safety for our customers on a daily basis."The new SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger will include the following new features designed to enhance customer usability:
- 30% smaller and lighter than the original model at 5.2 ounces
- New enhanced satellite antenna for improved performance in foliage or canopied environments
- Advanced GPS performance chipset
- GPS Acquisition light
- "Message Sending" indicator light
- Dedicated GPS Tracking button
- New, dedicated pre-programmable Custom Message button
- Protective covers over S.O.S and Help button to prevent inadvertent message transmissions
- Illuminated buttons
- Choice of orange or silver
- Included case and neoprene fastening band
"The active outdoor enthusiasts such as hikers, boaters, pilots, riders, remote workers and travelers will continue to enjoy the new SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger for its ruggedness while its smaller compact size and weight is ideal for portable use," continues Bassel. "The smaller size and ease-of-use will appeal to our broader consumer markets including the family on-the-go or anyone who spends time in the areas with unreliable cellular service."Equipped with two, notification LED's and six function buttons the new SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger transmits activated messages based on varying levels of need:
- OK/Check in lets contacts know where you are and that you're okay
- Track Progress sends and saves your location and allows contacts to track your progress in real-time using Google Maps(tm)
- * Help notifies your contacts or SPOT Assist professional services of your GPS location and need for assistance
- SOS/9-1-1 Alert notifies an emergency rescue coordination center of your GPS location
- Custom Message button sends a pre-programmed message to your personal contacts
When will the new SPOT Satellite GSP Messenger Be Available?The new SPOT Satellite GSP Messenger is scheduled to be available at select retailers later this fall. To find a SPOT retailer in the United States please visit the SPOT dealer locator at http://findmespot.com/en/locateadealer/.
About SPOT LLCThe SPOT Satellite Messenger, the world's first satellite messenger, uses both the GPS satellite network to determine a customer's location and the SPOT network to transmit that information to friends, family or an emergency service center. SPOT LLC, a subsidiary of Globalstar, Inc. (Nasdaq:GSAT), provides lifesaving communications technology that allows users to communicate from remote locations around the globe. Thanks to this affordable, cutting-edge personal safety device, the company offers people peace of mind by allowing customers to notify friends and family of their location and status, and to send for emergency assistance in time of need, completely independent of cellular phone or wireless coverage. For more information on how SPOT LLC. is helping users live to tell about it - from disaster preparedness to outdoor adventure purposes - visit www.findmespot.com. Buy Now: Search for SPOT Satellite Messenger... Read more...
As the name suggests, the all-new KEEN Newport Backpack takes its cues from the ubiquitous KEEN Newport Sandals that have made the brand so famous. One look at the compression straps and you think, "That pack sure looks like KEEN Newport Sandals". Well, I'll take a step out on a limb and say, YES... it was planned that way. :-) With a bevy of enviro-friendly components the KEEN Newport Backpack will go from boardroom to backcountry in a jiffy. It is hydration compatible and comes with a suspended laptop sleeve built to schlep up to a 15.4" laptop in cradled comfort. Check out a few more features of the Newport Laptop Backpack:
- 100% recycled aluminum components
- 15.4" padded and suspended laptop sleeve
- 100% recycled interior liner
- Hydration bladder pocket with hose outlet
- Breathable mesh and foam back panel
- Water bottle pockets on both sides
- 100% recycled inner tube rubber bottom
- Dimensions: 20" x 12" x 8"
- Price: $100
There has been lots of talk around electric cars, for years and years, and Tesla Motors knows this. I knew a guy when I lived in Key West who had 2 or 3 little 2-seater electric cars from the 70s that he used to get around. And two days ago I was in DC having dinner with a consultant from Georgia who lives in a town (not just a little golf course community) that has hundreds of miles of golf cart paths for residents to get around to the store and school and work in golf carts. The cart paths are only for bikes, pedestrians, and golf carts -- and they are entirely separate from the roads (for safety reasons) and give you a very secluded, tree-lined experience to get around your day. You can run 20-mile loops on these cart paths, through tunnels and over bridges, and never have to run alongside a noisy & dangerous road. For years I've felt that Park City could connect the Rail Trail to its Redstone and white barn paths to make a similar huge belt loop around the greater Park City area. But as idealistic as those sorts of communities sound, it isn't realistic that we change where we live and how our communities are designed just so that we can use low-impact transportation. Even using a Prius doesn't seem all that exciting, though it is practical. Enter the Tesla Roadster. It is a gorgeous 2-seater roadster run 100% on electric power. Not only that, it has so much torque that it can go 0-60mph in less than 4 seconds! It's also built in concert with Lotus, so you know it has a good pedigree. And here's the best part: it claims a range of almost 250 miles on a single 16-hour charge. Of course, as you see in the attached clip from Top Gear, that may not be a perfect representation of battery life under extreme driving conditions. The guys at Top Gear said it only lasted about 50 miles when driven hard, and then they had mechanical issues driving the backup car while the first car was re-charging. One cool thing is that you can charge the car from any wall plug if you want -- meaning it costs just a couple cents per mile to re-fuel. No more trips to the gas station --- except to pick up a soda and some beef jerky, of course. Now, you may say that that isn't really low-impact on the environment because most of us use electricity from coal-fired power plants. That's because many locations have laws that require the energy companies to default to the lowest-cost source for all customers. But I know that in the state of Utah anyone can request that the Rocky Mountain Power Company supply their household only with electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydro --- which are all quite plentiful in the state. So it only costs an extra 12 bucks or so per month to go 100% green for your household power. Of course, it costs much more than that for the Tesla Roadster. The Tesla's price tag runs a little over $100,000USD and has a waiting list. I'm sure the price will come down, as mentioned on the Top Gear clip, when early adopters have purchased several and the unit cost of production comes down with economies of scale. But in the meantime, assuming you don't live in a golf cart friendly community and you want to have a ripping fast sports car without the impact of oil consumption, the Tesla Roadster just may be your brand of luxury. Next electric car to drool over: The Tesla Model S, due out in 2011, that reportedly seats 5+ passengers and looks like an Aston Martin. And with a price tag under $50k USD. Sick!...Read more...
With all the talk about "green energy" these days, advancements in technology have followed. I'm no stranger to wind farms, in fact I've seen them in the farmland of the Midwest for years and my brother-in-law has worked on wind farms for nearly 10 years. But, the idea of harnessing the power of the sun has just always been compelling to me and with recent advances in solar panel technology, there are more and more creative ways to harness the power of the sun. There are now a myriad of portable solar chargers on the market today--some are small with the intent of charging an iPod or cell phone (Solio Hybrid 1000), while others are larger with the ability to more efficiently charge a laptop. Other solutions combine the solar panel charger with a portable power unit (essentially a super-efficient battery pack) to enable the use of more high-power A/C devices such as blenders, radios, electric griddles and the like. Just one such device is the all-new GoBe Combo Set which includes the GoBe Solar Briefcase and GoBe Power Hub to harness the power of the sun in a more long-lasting power package.
Who Should Use It?There are a variety of portable solar panels and power hubs on the market, but this one appears to be a solid choice for many types of users who are looking for a bit more power and versatility. With the ability to run more high-power devices, this could be a great choice for adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, scientists, emergency preparedness or eco hermits wishing to unplug. Combine this unit with a wireless card and you've got yourself a mobile office solution ready to blog or work from anywhere a cell tower is available. Simply plug in the laptop, iPhone and hang out on a mountain or campground for days.
About the GoBe Portable BatteryThis 9-lb battery pack (looks like a fattened bowling pin with a handle) provides long-lasting power between solar or wall charges. Built with a handle on top to facilitate transportation, the unit sports both A/C, D/C and USB plugs to power a variety of devices without adapters. Keep in mind that any high-draw device or anything with a 3-prong plug will not work (lets be realistic here). This unit is perfect for powering or charging laptops, cell phones, iPods, and other small appliances when disconnected from the grid. Power Hub Specifications:
- Built-in ventilation and fuse for safety
- Self-discharge RITAR batteries can be stored for 6 months between charges
- Battery Life: Up to 1000 cycles
- A/C Power Output: 80 Watts
- D/C Voltage: 12 VDC +- 1.5 V
- A/C Voltage: 110 VAC +- 10 V
- USB Output: 5.25 -4.40 VDC
- LED output power indicator lights
- MSRP: $180
About the GoBe Solar Panel ChargerTo charge the GoBe Power Hub on-the-go, this briefcase-style solar panel system is compact enough and durable enough to be packed in the back of the car without much worry. Its locking levers keep the panels protected from tiny hands (my kids think it's pretty cool) or accidental breakage. The handle eases transport and the flip-out supports allow for optimal sun capture. Though having two devices may seem cumbersome, it is nice to separate the two (Power Hub and Solar Battery Charager Panel) to prevent damage to the solar panels and not limiting the size of the solar panels due to the form-factor of the power unit. Solar Panel Specifications:
- 10.5 W power output
- Pop-out support legs
- Locking mechanism
- Size: 16" x 22" x 2"
- MSRP: $180
While I must admit that I'm fully enamored by the iPhone 3GS, the fact that I have to commit to using AT&T has me running in the other direction as fast as I can. Their plans are expensive and I've had poor customer service in the past. So, I keep looking on the horizon for an alternative in T-Mobile land while I wait out Apple's exclusivity agreement. Every provider has its drawbacks (T-Mobile's is lack of coverage), but the quality, US-based customer support provided by T-Mobile has won me over. Add on top of that more palatable service plans and I'm staying put... at least with T-Mobile. Coming July 8, T-Mobile is releasing the all-new myTouch Google Android-based phone to current subscribers. The phone is a sleeker and simpler design to the T-mobile G1 and looks a lot more promising for most users. While the G1 remains in the lineup as a powerhouse, the new myTouch looks more refined and sports a more iPhone-like form factor (minus the buttons at the bottom). I'm looking forward to seeing the T-Mobile Android myTouch in person once its released. Here are a few features of this new smartphone:
- 3.2" touchscreen (320 x 480 resolution)
- Faster 3G network
- WiFi connectivity
- Personalization features
- Photo and video capability (3.2 mp camera)
- Full Google application suite
- Touchscreen QWERTY keyboard (landscape or portrait modes)
- Form-factor smaller than an iPhone (don't let the stretched image to the right fool you)
- Price: $199 w/2-year agreement
Though not exactly the first thing that pops to mind when I think of gear, I've come to realize that my cell phone is pretty high up on my list of things I value function in when playing outside. Recently, I got a new G'zOne Boulder cell phone, and I've been nothing but impressed, so I felt I'd pass along the info. Let's preface this article with some background information. I am ridiculously hard on equipment. My laptop has a plastic cover AND a case it travels in. I went through 4 cell phones within the course of 12 months. The inside of my truck needs a permanent scotch-guard bath. Not a day goes by when I don't leave the house with a dog leash, coffee, school books and a bagel teetering in one hand, and my cell phone, keys and jacket in the other, and my backpack full of everything else hanging on my side. I drop things. Frequently. That having been said, G'zOne markets their phone as being "tough" and ready to "withstand the elements." I figured that if anyone could break that sucker, it'd be me. With claims such as the phone being dust proof, shock proof and water resistant, I was skeptical, but interested to try it out, and see if the phone was "Claire-proof."
Key Features of the G'zOne Boulder
- Phone is coated in a silicon rubber, which is basically a built in case, adding durability
- Water resistant- The G'zOne is marketed to be water resistant for up to 30 minutes submerged up to 1 meter. Don't believe me? Here's a true story for ya... A friend who also has the G'zOne called me about 6 months ago, and I heard an odd background noise. I asked her what she was up to, and she informed me that she was multitasking- showering and making phone calls. Yes, she called me from the shower. Creepy, yes. Sweet feature of the phone, definitely! Her phone is still working like a champ, 6 months and many wet phone calls later. Also humidity resistant.
- Shock resistant- It's true. Having had the phone only 2 weeks, its taken a dive down my concrete front steps, and off the front seat of my truck more than once. I can happily report that after these occurrences, the phone looks as good as new, and is in fine working order.
As an amateur photographer (no Kindergarten-esque really), I struggle with my mediocre photography skills. I've always been meaning to take a photography class and up the ante. The trouble with that is I likely don't have the right kind of camera to take advantage of all the things I'd learn. Yeah, they could teach you more about composition and lighting, which can make any photographer better. I'm aware of those things and do my best at compensating, but where I lack is the ability to use the advanced features found in DSLR and pseudo DSLR cameras, like the Sony DSC-H50 digital camera. I was reading the review found on DigitalPhotographyReview.com of the Sony DSC-H50. While the reviewer didn't absolutely LOVE the camera, she felt it was a solid option at a great price. Picture quality was excellent and the zoom was outstanding. Specs of the Sony DSC-H50:
- 9.1 Megapixels
- Carl Zeiss 15x zoom lens
- Super SteadyShot Optical Image Stabilization
- Face detection technology
- VGA movie mode (640x480)
- 3" tilting LCD screen
- More details from SonyStyle.com
There is a lot to love about the Sony Cybershot H50: the awesome zoom range; the compact size and weight; the rich, colorful pictures; the big, tilting LCD; and the incredibly helpful remote control. These are all strong selling points. But I don’t love the way this camera fits in my hand, its confusing menu interface or its near lack of an auto review. And as far as I’m concerned, the miniature optical viewfinder, Smile Shutter and Night Shot switch are just a waste of space. Would I buy this camera? If the bottom line is getting great pictures on a modest budget, then yes, I’d probably buy it. Despite having no prior experience with the DSC-H50, I took it on a weeklong trip through the Southwest and came home with good photographs of every place I visited. I had a few minor challenges with the camera, but all things considered, it got the job done. In a perfect world, though, the camera I’d really like to buy would combine the DSC-H50’s lens, LCD, remote control, image quality, size, weight and price tag with a more ergonomically comfortable body and a cleaner menu interface. But I’m not sure if that camera actually exists. ProsI didn't see any mention of the reviewer about the video quality. But, it's not widescreen and not HD, so for me, this camera would be off my list of options. I really like having HD video on-the-fly with the same digital camera I'm already toting around. Hauling a separate still and video camera isn't an option when trying to capture the moment. The Sony DSC-H50 is available for around $300 from many retailers. Buy Now: Google Product Search for Sony DSC-H50... Read more...
- 15x zoom lens with Super SteadyShot optical image stabilization (31-465 mm equivalent)
- Very good image quality
- Exposure settings ranging from Easy Mode to full manual control
- Compact size and light weight
- Large, tilting LCD monitor
- MPEG video recording with zoom functionality
- Easily accessible continuous shooting/bracket button
- Remote control - great for group and self-portraits
- In-camera editing and slideshow functions
- Optical viewfinder is so small it’s almost useless
- Somewhat awkward physical design and user interface
- Battery for remote control is difficult to access
I've been using the V.I.O. POV 1 package for a few weeks now and love the quality of the images. It does get a little cumbersome, but the image quality and ease-of-use is great. With the introduction of the new POV 1.5, the camera head is smaller, connections are simplified, there's more capacity and the mounts are more flexible. Here's more info from V.I.O. on the new POV 1.5: V.I.O., the leader in wearable video technology, introduces the new POV.1.5 wearable video system, an integrated point-of-view imaging system. Building off the success of the POV.1, a self-contained point-of-view camera system, the POV.1.5 comes with a new look, more memory, easier assembly and a rich accessory offering. POV.1.5 will be available through select dealers and direct from V.I.O. March 2008. The new POV.1.5 features a smaller camera weighing only 2 oz. in a red anodized casing. The new POV.1.5 also features a permanent and securely tethered cable from the camera head and a 4GB memory card (previously 1GB). All POV.1.5 cameras include a wide-angle lens that capture an incredible 110° field of view, easier and more secure mounting solutions and 8GB SDHC compatibility. The POV.1.5M includes all the updates from the POV.1.5 with additional accessories that make it more adept to the demands of moto-sports. Additional accessories for the POV.1.5M include the POV Power, a cigarette lighter adapter cable and direct hard-wire adapter cable provided (SAE connection). Three additional “Ultimate” packages will also be available for those who wish to additionally accessorize their camera purchase and save money.
V.I.O. POV 1.5 Features
- MSRP $649.95
- NEW smaller and red anodized look for camera head
- NEW permanently secured cable from camera head
- NEW 8GB capacity
- Wide-Angle Lens Sensitivity: F2.0
- Relative Illumination @ Full Field 90%
- Effective Focal Length: 2.97mm
- Field of view: 110 degrees
- The Complete Video Package Deal: The only wearable video camera on the market that features a complete software package to edit and share videos out of the box
- The POV.1.5 records in 2 modes, LOOP or CLIP. In LOOP mode, the user TAGs and saves key video segments. In CLIP mode, video is continuously recorded as in traditional video recording. Recording, playback and set-up are controlled by buttons on the POV.1.5 Recorder
- The most advanced high-quality wearable digital video camera records with 720 x 480 resolution at 30fps. The POV.1.5 allows users the ability to choose between 720x480, 720x400, 640x480, or 360x240 resolution and Frame Rates: 30fps, 25fps, 24fps, or 15ps
- LCD screen on recorder to view your clips while recording
- Wireless remote control and microphone
- Ergonomic user interface design enables single-handed operation and hands-free video capture
- Modular mounting system provides camera stability while attached to helmets or other high impact gear
- Components are shock-resistant, water-resistant and dustproof for use in the most hazardous environments
What's Included With the POV 1.5?
- NEW 4GB HDSD card
- NEW Star Mount
- NEW Double-Hook and Loop Mount
- NEW Tutorials on CD
- POV.1.5 Recorder with LCD Display
- Wide-Angle wearable camera head
- LVDS cable
- POV Manager software
- Wireless remote control
- USB cable
- Analog A/V cable
- AA batteries
- Carrying case
I've been wanting to get better at capturing videos for skiing this season and I am digging my Aiptek HD camcorder. It is the low model of the Aiptek camera ($130) family but I figured if I get really good I can always upgrade to the 1080.
Camera CosmeticsUsually I'm not excited about taking my glove off while skiing to take a picture or record. Great thing about this camera is you don't have to. I use my Black Diamond Guide gloves (electronic dexterity is low) when I ski and all I have to do is flip open the viewfinder and press the front record button. By opening the viewfinder the camera automatically turns on. The joystick button on the rear of the camera is secure and easy to push forward for zooming in and out. If your going to view a video you'll have to take off your gloves to press the buttons on the viewfinder screen. The overall build of the camera doesn't worry me while I'm skiing. It's very small and after a couple wrecks on the snow I haven't seen any issues of performance. I don't smoke but the size of the camera is like a tall pack of cigarettes.
Aiptek QualityAiptek and other brands definitely have higher definition then the 720 but for what I'm doing (capturing priceless moments of my kids) it does what I need. I'm a little bugged by the cords it came with, for some reason I can't get video to playback on my TV so I'll have to hit google and start the research. Video You really have to keep your hand steady with this thing. You can tell by the youtube of us sledding on Hammerheads it's not stellar but than again it was taken at night sliding down a hill. It does give you a good idea of what this thing can and can't do. Still Shots The 8mp camera is very sensitive so keeping the camera still is key. When you press the button give it about 5 seconds (no joke) for the camera to actually take the picture. I suggest using the flash, my pictures on this camera come out a lot better when I do. I really bought this for the video recording but a still shot is always nice to have. Mic check...mic check The microphone picks up a lot of noise which can be good and bad. Bad in the since when I'm skiing behind my wife to pick up sweet action shots you can hear every little sound of the wind. Not a big deal if you dub out the sound and throw in some tunes. The sensitivity is nice for picking up the voices of people in the shot, I suggest having them stand less then 8 feet in front of the camera. Another feature I like for the kids is the voice recorder. I've used it a couple times when my daughter says funny stuff like, "Holla! Shot calla'" at night in the car. Not a major feature I use but a cool add-on that Aiptek included. I would keep your mouth 12-18 inches away from the camera so your voice doesn't over power recording. Storage The camera takes an SD card which now a days are going up to 32 GB. The SD card is my favorite memory card so that really sold me on this model. The mere 6mb of internal storage gets slaughtered after about 5 min. of filming so pretend as if you have none. Check out the Aiptek 720 and the 1080 for your filming enjoyment.... Read more...
I love the new netbooks that are coming out. Small, solid-state hard drives with more processor power and memory than my desktop from just a couple of years ago. These netbooks are lightweight, portable, and super quiet because of their solid-state hard drives (instead of traditional drives that are bulky and noisy). They have wi-fi built in, or a wi-fi card comes with it, and the only drive they have is a memory card reader (SD, etc). So...since we're all saving lots of our stuff like pictures to memory cards (SD, etc) and to the cloud (like Google Docs and flickr) then why do you need so much space on your laptop's hard drive? A solid-state drive that allows you to slap MS Office on there is enough. That's why they call it a netbook --- it just connects you to the Internet via wi-fi or whatever, and then you just save all your docs to the cloud. Enter the Dell Inspiron Mini Netbook. It's a 9-inch screen netbook computer laptop that is only 2.2 pounds and has Windows XP Home Edition on it. And the kicker? IT CAN BE FOUND FOR LESS THAN $300 bucks. How about that? I found it for $245 at samsclub.com (update: link was provided in this article originally, but it now appears to no longer be available on samsclub.com). See the pics at right for a look at the different colors, etc, for the Dell Inspiron Mini Netbook. Now, having an 8G hard drive may make you cringe --- but again, think about saving everything from your netbook to a service like Google Docs instead of to your hard drive, and you'll stop hyperventilating about having so little space available on your hard drive. Also, it has a memory card reader so you can just pull the memory card out of your digital camera (or your cell phone, if the phone's camera is a high enough megapixel that the pics aren't junk) and then save it directly from your memory card to your flickr or facebook account. The only thing you might want more hard drive space for is apps like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. But many apps (even Office) are making online versions available. So why not take advantage, and save your back (and your pocketbook) some pain? Consider a netbook as your next laptop. See the specs below for the Dell Inspiron Mini 9-inch Netbook Laptop Computer. Maybe at a price of $245, it makes it easier to be generous and give one of these as a gift? For example, for a youth who is less fortunate and wants to learn some good computing skills. You could certainly load up a text editor on this thing, and maybe even learn MySQL and PHP. Talk about a way to get knowledge into the masses! SPECS FOR THE DELL INSPIRON MINI9: # Processor and Memory: Inspiron 910 Intel Atom processor N270, 1.6GHz, 533Mhz512K L2 Cache # 1GB DDR2, 533MHZ, 1 DIMM Hard Drive and Multimedia Drives: # 8GB Solid State Drive (mini-card Module/PATA) # 3-in-1 Media Card Reader Graphics: # Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950 Connectivity: # Integrated 10/100 LAN (RJ45) # Wireless 802.11g Mini Card Ports/Slots: # USB 2.0 (3) # 15-pin VGA video connector # Audio jacks (1-line out, 1 mic-in) # AC adapter connector Display and Webcam: # 8.9" Wide Screen WSVGA TL LCD # 0.3MP Webcam Power: # 4-cell 32WHr Li-Ion Battery Dimensions and Weight: # Dimensions: 9.13"W x 1.07"H x 6.77"D # Weight: 2.28 lbs. Operating System: # Genuine Windows XP Home Edition Included: # Power cord...Read more...
I just came across this deal at Backcountry.com... the Highgear Aerial altimeter watch for only $37.50. They have loads of them in stock, so it looks like they are blowing through these factory overstock items. A quick look at Highgear's Web site reveals that this watch has been discontinued. I've used the Aerial and while there are better altimeter watches on the market, for under $40, this one is hard to beat. It's a great entry-level altimeter watch... no question. Features of the Highgear Aerial Watch
- Altimeter (up to 30,000 ft)
- Altitude alarm
- Log book feature
We have all had numerous watches. I'm no different. From the Swatch uber cool decoder watch from '99 to my Suunto Vector computer, my wrist has seen many time keepers. If it were possible I would choose to take laps on Mt. Rainier everyday in the summer and live on Wasatch slopes in the winter. Truth is, I work a day job like most of you. I really don't NEED to know what elevation my break room is. I do like style and durability and thats why the Nixon Quatro watch is living on my wrist these days and will stay that way for a long time. As I am typing this post the Quatro is chilling on my right hand. As I bend my hand up and down to SHIFT and CTRL it doesn't get in my way. My biggest complaint with past watches is when I type the thing is flopping around like dead weight. The face isn't so big that it digs into the top of my hand but big enough I can actually read the time. I did wish it had the date but it forces my pea brain to remember it throughout the day. I had a fossil watch one time and the metal band drove me crazy. Flipping the little clip to take it off became a chore because I think the metal wore out or something. The Nixon band clip is really solid and easy to take off and put on. I got the Gunmetal color and it's been a nice low-key choice. The weight of the watch is nice too, doesn't weigh me down like the old metal watches and neither does the price. BOTTOM LINE: It may not be the most hardcore piece of gear I own but its definitely one I use everyday. KEEP TIME: The Nixon Quatro Mens watch at Backcountry.com...Read more...
Anymore it seams that Apps for the iPhone are almost as valuable as the phone itself. Skiers and snowboarders who are also owners of the iPhone have at their fingertips a number of snow report and other ski resort related applications. One of the standouts that I've found recently is one called Snocator which uses interactive trail maps to show you where you are on the mountain with all lifts, runs and features included. It also provides the latest snow reports, weather conditions, mountain cams and up-to-the-minute forecasts. Pretty much there's no reason for getting lost, cold, hungry, etc. Nearly every major ski area in North America is covered by Snocator, and it features mountain cams for resorts throughout the world. More resorts are being added each day. On mountain features:
- see your current location on a map and what trail you're on (note: this will be less accurate for non-GPS iPhones)
- Plan your next runs using interactive trail maps
- Find the nearest spot to warm up, grab lunch, or get a hot drink
- Find your friends – a feature that will be coming soon
- Track your runs, speed, and vertical (and coming soon you can show it off on a map)
- Check the latest weather forecasts
- Get snow reports: search resorts in order of largest snowfall and proximity to you
- Check out views of the mountain from real-time mountain cams
- Keep a list of your favorite resorts
- Find the nearest resorts to you
- Track your progress en-route to the slopes and see how far away you are
I've seen the V.I.O. camera in use by Sage Cattabriga-Alosa while skiing at Alta and also while mountain biking in Southern Utah. This system is bombproof--by far the most durable and easy-to-use helmet camera on the market. Looks like they are upgrading the software to accommodate up to 8 GB of storage (that's 6 hours). Pretty sweet. Here are the details from V.I.O.: The highly anticipated upgrade will allow global POV.1 users to use 1, 2, 4 & 8GB SDHC cards with their systems; increasing the POV.1's recording capacity to new levels in the Wearable Video Industry. The upgrade will allow the unit to accept up to 8 gigabytes of memory; a 400 percent increase from the 2 gig default settings. The free upgrade will have a giant affect on recordable time; from 45 minutes to over 6 hours on the highest resolution setting.
The POV.1 Wearable Video CameraThe POV.1 is a fully integrated point-of-view (POV) video system that is waterproof, dustproof and shock resistant. The high resolution hands-free camera may be mounted virtually anywhere, resulting in amazingly crisp, first-person video footage. Easy and intuitive to use out-of-the-box, the POV.1 is a rugged performer capable of withstanding rain, dunks in puddles and dust storms while resisting the shock of riding in rough terrain. See sample VIO POV.1 videos here: http://theviovoice.com/?paged=2 Any POV.1 owner can access the free firmware upgrade at the following URL: http://www.vio-pov.com/files/html_emails/firmware_update_sdhc/constant_contact/ After the "Upgrade" button is clicked, an email will be sent to the email address entered containing installation directions and links to video tutorials. The download will begin automatically. Buy Now: Search for the V.I.O. POV.1 Helmet Camera... Read more...
My wife really gave me a killer gift for my birthday -- no, not a car. But it's something I had definitely been wanting for myself, but was trying to be practical about the price. It's an Amazon Kindle. I've had it for about a month now, and I figured I'd do a little gear review for you here of the Kindle. In case you haven't come across it yet, the Amazon Kindle is an ebook reader from Amazon where you can take hundreds of books around on this tiny device and read them on an easy-on-the-eyes screen. That alone saves your back from lugging a hardback book on your next business trip. And then when you finish that hardback mid-trip, you have to go buy a second book and then lug BOTH of them home with you. What a royal pain. Not with the Amazon Kindle ebook reader. The Kindle has a free wireless internet connection (yes, completely free -- you'll never get a monthly bill or any charges for it). And it works just about anywhere a cell phone works. It's called Whispernet. And since your Kindle is associated with your Amazon account, once you're done reading that first book, you just open the Kindle Store on your Kindle and you can browse tons and tons of titles and hit "buy" right then and there --- within a few seconds you have a new book to read. No downloading it to your computer and then syncing it to your Kindle. Just bam -- and it's there. I wish Apple would release a Whispernet service for iPods. And from my experience, it seems like most new releases, classics, best sellers, and even many obscure books are available in the Kindle Store. On top of all of this, it feels good to not be killing trees just to read a book. You just download it, and read it. You have a whole library right in this little paper-back sized device. Also, you can buy subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and many other publications, and every day it will be delivered right to your Kindle to read. Here is a summary of some features: - I haven't found a single title more than $9.99, even newly-released bestsellers. And many classics (like the Bible, Alice in Wonderland, the original Frankenstein, etc) are priced between $1 and $4. - Want to make a note on a page? No problem -- just hit a button, type a note in using a full QWERTY keyboard, and it's easy to go back and view. Same with dog-earing pages -- you just hit "Bookmark" on the menu, and it's saved as a hyperlink in your "My Clippings" folder. - Your Kindle is associated with your Amazon account, which means when you hit "buy" for a new book, you don't have to enter in your credit card info -- it just references the credit card number you have saved on your Amazon account and does a 1-click purchase. - On amazon.com a copy of everything you purchase for your Kindle is saved on your "My Account" page. Which means, if you lose your kindle just buy a new one and you can re-download all your books to your new Kindle for free. And no matter how many Kindles you buy, they are all automatically synced to your same Amazon account and can access all of the books you've ever purchased on any of them. So you know what I did? I bought my wife a Kindle, and it now shows up as "Brig's 2nd Kindle". I just logged on to my Amazon account and hit "send this book to Brig's 2nd Kindle" and she now has all the books I've already read on her Kindle for free too. Sweet, huh? So I could buy a Kindle for everyone in my family, and they could all share my library of Kindle books. On top of that, any books they purchase on their Kindle would be available to send to my Kindle for free as well. Talk about a sweet way to run a book club! - You can access any Wikipedia entry right on your Kindle, if you want to research something. I know Wikipedia isn't the oracle of all truth, but it's pretty well moderated so I trust it for casual research and "did you know" fact checking. - There is a built in dictionary. See a word you don't know? Scroll to it, press a button, and you have the definition right there. - You also have a web browser, if you really REALLY need to go to a website. And it just uses the Whispernet service (okay, I think if you use the web browser a ton, then you'll see a usage charge for Whispernet show up on your Amazon account). But I've only done it once to try it out, and it was black and white and slow to load, and weird formatting. Not really worth it, but at least it's there in a pinch. But I don't see that as a downfall at ALL. That's not what the Kindle is for --- use your iPhone for that. The Kindle is the best way to read books, period. And that alone makes it worth the $359 price tag. - The screen is black and white, and isn't done via LCD or anything. Honestly, I don't know how the thing works. But it looks just like black ink on light gray paper. You can read it in direct sunlight without a problem. - The screen isn't backlit, and I can't find a way to turn on a backlight or anything. I honestly don't know if the Kindle has a backlight. So if you read in the dark in bed, you'll probably need a reading light for it. Amazon has some good ones they recommend to use with it. - The black and white screen, since it isn't backlit, uses barely any battery juice. You can read all day and only use up about half of the battery. Though Amazon says you'll extend the life of the battery if you recharge frequently --- rather than waiting for it to drain entirely before recharging. - You can listen to mp3s on the Kindle while reading. I think you have to sync with your computer to get the mp3s onto your Kindle -- which stinks, I haven't bothered to do it yet. I wish I could just browse music on Amazon right inside the Kindle Store and purchase them over Whispernet the same way I purchase books. Immediate gratification. Amazon, are you listening? I want that service! Heck, Amazon put out your own iPod competitor that leverages Whispernet to do that! So that's my summary. Awesome product --- especially the fact that you can purchase multiple Kindles, have them all synced to your Amazon credit card, and then just share books between them. And the books are cheeeeeap. Killer product. I know a lot of people said that Amazon should just provide the service, and leave it up to others to build devices on that service. And maybe they will. But at least they set the bar with their own Kindle first, and then if they want to open the service up to other device makers then they'll know that those devices have to measure up to a pretty high standard, and the idea of an ebook reader won't just die because of poorly-conceived and built devices. Amazon set the standard with the Kindle....Read more...
Just like the iPhone, you can update your Ortovox S1 beacon with the new 2.0 update. Except the iPhone can really only take pictures of the snow and chances are the coverage isn't that great to call anyone for help. The S1 has stellar new features for backcountry use but won't be playing music or videos anytime soon. Ortovox has added filters to eliminate noise that confuses your buddy with radio signals bopping around the area your in. This has also made the program on your S1 find your friend faster and more accurately. The S1 has a screen to easily display multiple burials in a slide. As advanced as the beacon is, I wish it could also speak and tell you what friend to help out first. If you have an s1 I am sure most of your ski partners are going to be picking up the beer tab, drive to the hill, and even pack some of your stuff. You have that going for you, which is nice. The overall update is increasing the signals from 6 to 8 making all the new features possible. To update your beacon send it to: Ortovox 455 Irish Hill rd. Hopkinton NH 03229 603-746-3176 email@example.com http://www.ortovox.com Include a $14 check to cover return shipping and insurance. To avoid sending your precious beacon away and if your not in a huge rush, check with your local Ortovox retailer as some of them will be receiving the update tool. WARNING: Attend an avalanche education course before heading into the backcountry. Buying this device does not make you invincible or magically turn you into a super hero. BUY NOW: Ortovox S1 Avalanche Beacon at Backcountry.com....Read more...
Looks like T-mobile will be carrying google's new "Android" phone, the G1. I just checked out the rock-and-roll demo of the phone and at this point it looks ho-hum. I mean, the music is hot, but the phone looks clunky. Admittedly, I'm a huge Apple fan, but I haven't yet jumped on the iPhone 3G bandwagon. My biggest reason is AT&T... their lackluster customer service and expensive services plans have soured my drive for the iPhone. I do have an iPod Touch and completely enjoy the interface and user-experience. It's so easy to use that I find my 3-year-old writing email and browsing YouTube or watching The Incredibles on it all the time. Her favorite YouTube video to watch is Crazy Horses by the Osmonds (it's bookmarked as it should be). Thanks to the new iPhone/iPod 2.1 software update, I've now disabled YouTube so she can't happen upon someone's soft porn unknowingly... phew! I digress... back to the T-mobile G1. I think it misses the mark and definitely will not be an iPhone killer. I venture that this particular version with be a flop and here's why:
- The form-factor looks HUGE
- Where's the bling? Nothing on this phone breaks new ground
- The design looks like it was built by the miltary
- The upturned button area adds to the awkward form-factor
- Google is not know for their interfaces... these guys are engineering-driven and we all know how well engineers design interfaces
- Full QWERTY keyboard, but the slide-out design may be problematic
- It's not on AT&T
- T-mobile's customer service is great
Go green. Go smart. Leave your massive extension cord and generator at home on your backpacking trip. With the Solio Hybrid 1000 you can plug into the sun. Ok hold up...before you break out your electronic toys to take over the peaceful backcountry, let me lay some treats on ya. I got the Hybrid 1000 for a trip to Alaska a month ago and it kept my iPhone plenty charged for all my picture taking needs, after some self taught lessons. Out of the box your going to need to give this a USB computer charging session. I tried "plugging into the sun" and it didn't work so well because it was its first charge. It took about 4-5 hours of charging on my computer to get this going and then I was set. As far as solar charging, you really need a solid ray of sunlight coming down, none of this overcast business. 1 hour of solar charging = 15 min. of cell talk time or 40 min. of music enjoyment.
Quick Solio TutorialRed light = charging Green light = charge strength, 1 blink is lowest strength and 5 blinks is the strongest Black button on back = press once to initiate charge with device Green light rapidly blinking with device attached = charging Green light rapidly blinking when no device attached = hold black button for 2 seconds to turn off The great thing about the Hybrid in comparison to its big brother the Solio Classic, is the size. The Hybrid has this flat short knife design that also has a clip to easily charge on the outside of your pack. In my case, I didn't need the 8 watts of power the Classic delivers, the 5 or so watts with the Hybrid is perfect for my iPhone. Waking up your device from the dead is a tough spot, try to plug that baby in before your toy heads for the light.
Solio Hybrid 1000 Solar Charger
- Weighs 131 g (Classic - 179 g)
- USB tip, mini-USB (blackberry, garmin etc.) and Nokia tip included.
- 1.5-5 watts of sweet action output
- Can be used for energy storage
Setting up your home network used to be something you called your buddy from the IT help desk to do. Network storage appliances used to be configured by PhD's. Apple has changed that. I recently purchased the 1 TB Apple Time Capsule and like a lot of Apple's products it does something so nicely you just forget (or choose to overlook) the short comings. Bottom line is that I think this device is well worth the money at $500 for 1 TB of storage. I initially set this up with my Mac Mini on Leopard as the de facto Time Machine, but shortly realized that it was a waste of 1 terabyte (TB) of network storage capacity. I backup everything I have with a second hard drive and keep it outside the house anyway. I don't need a back up system for the few files I actually keep on my desktop. Time Machine might be great for the conspiracy theorists who worry about the end of time and all that, but it just wasn't for me. I found some articles in chat rooms describing how to partition the drive for network storage and the typical Time Machine usage, but I chose just to keep it all as storage and turn the backup feature off. Below I break down the pros and cons but I just have to say this thing just works like a champ and couldn't be easier to set up. My only real gripe, that I wish I had a way to address, is that I use this as my storage for all my music files. When it streams a song longer than say 4 minutes it falls into sleep mode and can sometimes delay the start of the next song or stop serving up its buffer all together. I wish I had a way with the Air Port Utility to change this sleep time duration but I don't. This happens so infrequently that it doesn't bother me that much. More importantly, I suspect this devise should last me a good four years and hold all the MP3s, digital video, and photos I can produce. Pros:
- Great range (8o2.11N)
- Very reliable
- Limited Flexibility
- Sometimes sleeps when streaming music via iTunes
- "I" personally don't like Time Machine backup software
A few months ago I was on a search for a new backpack to carry my laptop back and forth to the office. Messenger bags are nice, but they just don't do it for me. I prefer the ability to put the whole shebang on my back and huff around if need be--especially when traveling for business. My previous pack suffered an untimely demise--I forgot about a bottle of milk in a side pocket for a few days and the chunky, curdled mess oozed into most of the compartments. Yeah, it smelled. And, even after multiple washes, it still smelled stanky. Looking at the laptop-compatible packs from many manufacturers, the DAKINE 101 had nearly everything I needed in a business-friendly/campus-friendly backpack. Tops on that list was a side-loading padded laptop sleeve. Nothing is more annoying than a laptop bag that doesn't have that feature. I don't want to have to unzip my entire bag just to access the laptop. Not only does the DAKINE 101 backpack have a side-load laptop sleeve, but it's also got lots of other cool pockets and storage options to keep all your electronics cozy and safe. Here's the quick rundown:
- Side water bottle pocket (works great with Nalgene bottles)
- Organizer pocket with removable MP3 player holder, cell phone pocket and other misc pockets
- Side-access laptop sleeve
- Zippered back panel security sleeve (to keep all yer loot)
- Dri-Mesh back panel and shoulder straps
- Fleece-lined sunglass pocket
- Rolling access side pocket (great for accessing stuff on-the-fly
- 2000 cu. in.
- MSRP: $75
DAKINE 101 Backpack ReviewAfter a few months, this pack fits the bill. It's not perfect, but for the money, it's a solid laptop bag. For starters, the side-access sleeve works great for both my Apple Macbook and Macbook Pro 15" laptops. It will also work great for those with clunky PC laptops up to 14.5-inches x 10.75-inches x 1.75-inches. I dig the size of the large compartment--it's perfect to haul all my cycling gear, water bottles and leftovers (lunchtime staple) to the office. There's even a smaller pocket that fits my bike shoes perfectly. The pack fits fairly comfortably, but, I'll be honest, the zippered security pocket on the back panel makes things a little uncomfortable if you're going to wear this pack for a long time. Just don't shove anything that's too thick in there and you'll be fine. Good
- Side-entry padded laptop storage sleeve
- Large compartment to carry shoes, leftovers and enough clothes for a 2-3 day trip
- Smaller compartments with organizing pockets galore
- Subtle styling in black or brown keeps things low-key
- Love the sunglasses pocket... awesome for travel
- Best suited for short hauls between classes
- Back panel and straps aren't comfortable for all-day hauls
- I wish it had a removable waist belt
- Be careful to zip up the laptop sleeve... I've forgotten and my laptop has gone for a ride... uggh
- Included iPod case design was already outdated when I bought the pack
If you know someone who can't get enough silly cat videos on YouTube, needs to know the weather constantly, or can't pry themselves away from sports scores on ESPN, then the Chumby looks like the perfect gadget gift. It's like a second monitor just for your favorite widgets. You could also use this to constantly watch your favorite deal of the day sites like steepandcheap.com or woot.com. Be sure to check out the list of widgets to get a better understanding of how might want one of these. Check it out at www.chumby.com Price:$179.95 (I'm hoping my wife reads this and gets the hint)...Read more...
It's rather sobering when the very first product listing on a GPS devices webpage describes that it's "easy for rescuers to know who you are and where you are, worldwide," but that's the harsh reality of the deep woods adventurer, especially in the untamed wonder of the Rocky Mountains. And the same webspace reminds hikers about the idiosyncrasies of electronics: "Consider your GPS as third tool always carry a compass and a map, decide if you need an altimeter, and practice your navigation skills." (www.mec.ca - Selecting a GPS') The Global Positioning System (GPS) relies on ever-present geostationary satellites, which orbit overhead at the same rate the earth turns, providing continuous and accurate tracking for any device which receives its signals. A GPS device collects data from at least three satellites it can see' (assuming no giant shielding buildings or mountains) so it can figure out where the device is compared to where the satellites are. Most GPS information is considered accurate to within 15 metres/50 feet which is pretty good information when you haven't seen a recognizable landmark in a while. If you're more particular, a Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) is available in Canada and the US, It's more affected by obstructions like a forest or hills, but it's accurate to within 3 metres/10 feet. Much more useful to keep your car's GPS robot telling you accurate directions to the nearest coffeeshop or camping supply store. To that end, the most basic option is the Satellite Map: it gives you an idea of where satellites are relative to a ground map, and can show what you might have to avoid should those irritating trees or mountains be blocking the satellite signal from reaching you. Not something you need to know minute by minute when backpacking, but if you're on a bike or in a canoe, the speed of your travel might make this more significant. The kind of tripping you're engaged in affects other GPS options. The screen size, for example, becomes more important when the device might be attached to a canoer's pack instead of being carried in a hiker's hand. Someone on foot would not want the extra bulk and weight of a large screen, which would be no more than arm's length away. The screen size affects only font and icon size, and when you're free to lift it closer to your eyes, smaller and lighter makes sense for several hours of trailblazing. On that screen, almost every GPS device will show you waypoints: locations you've entered into the GPS where you want to be at different times. It can connect these points as you travel past them, indicating your progress, but not necessarily showing the map information mentioned earlier. Map storage space will vary, as will its level of detail and the map's realtime change as you travel. Geography factors like contours, waterways, and even trailheads (or restaurants) can be displayed on many devices, and some allow the user to download information from their PC to acquire the maps for this customized display. A map of an entire national park would not do you much good on a four-day backcountry hike, and this would allow you to customize your maps for each trip. Companies like Garmin and Magellan offer backcountry-specific models ranging from a few to several hundred dollars, the most expensive incorporating all of these options and a Personal Locater Beacon (PLB) which, instead of just receiving GPS information, can broadcast a signal for up to 40 hours to assist search and rescue efforts, should the unforeseen occur. These devices are ruggedly constructed, moisture-proofed to differing degrees depending upon your needs (cycling vs. hiking vs. canoeing), and access up to a dozen satellite signals at once to improve the accuracy of the GPS mapping. Instead of wrist-mounted watches or large-display trip computers, incorporate all of the possible features with surveillance in DPL's inconspicuous school-backpack or world's smallest and most powerful real-time gps tracker." These not only provide invisible tracking abilities for people ("for children and/or teens who run the possibility of being kidnapped") or vehicles, but also audio monitoring of the GPS's immediate vicinity. And with the ever-increasing price range of these exotic devices, they can be rented on a weekly basis.
By Ian Larsen - Get Backpacking and Hiking Gear Reviews at CascadeGear.com... Read more...
I'm in love with this hunk of plastic. There are times when you find a tool or a piece of gear with tons of flaws yet still performs wonderfully. This speaker is a perfect example. I think this is because the speaker looks so simple that I can't believe I've found as many things to improve. I also don't think I've seen any of these speakers that I've really enjoyed listening too in the past. The bottom line is that I love a full and powerful sound when listening to music, just as my friends how many times they have to turn down music when they come over to my house. This speaker delivers a ton of sound and it very simple and elegant. I'd recommend this to anyone. My suggested improvements:
- The mesh front isn't secured very well on the corners
- The docking tray should come with more adapters to fit the specific iPods
- The docking tray is also difficult to open and close
- The volume buttons on the side need to be more sensitive
- The great sound
- The simplistic design
As much as we all love the outdoors and outdoor gear, I know that many of you have to work like a regular Joe. Me too. That's why I love any minute that I can get out on a bike or on my skis to try out some cool outdoor gear. But I also enjoy my work, which happens to involve lots of internet technology and tech gear. So I can't help but be excited about new tech gear that comes out -- like the Microsoft Touchwall (built on Plex) that was announced by Bill Gates today at the Microsoft CEO Summit. The Microsoft Touchwall is a multi-touch display that reminds me of Minority Report. You know how Tom Cruise has that multi-touch display? Well that's what the Microsoft Touchwall reminds me of -- a drag and drop wall display like Minority Report, but from Microsoft. The best part about it? The Touchwall's hardware gear only costs a couple hundred dollars. But don't pull out your wallet yet -- it isn't quite ready to be sold yet. The way it works is with three lasers along the bottom of any wall surface (their first experiment with the Touchwall was on a sheet of cardboard, if you can believe it). Those three lasers scatter out in a mesh across the surface, which can track your finger touches. You can zoom in & out on items, very similar to an iPhone touchscreen, by just tapping. The Touchwall also works like a whiteboard that you can draw on with your finger, too. Basically, it's like having an iPhone touchscreen on your projector screen coupled with an electronic whiteboard. Very cool, and very useful for those situations where what you want to review in a group setting is much larger than a simple PowerPoint page. Like big diagrams that would be crunched too small if constrained to a PowerPoint slide. With the Touchwall you can just have the whole diagram, and touch the wall (great name) to zoom into & out of the detailed areas of the diagram that you want to review with the group. I think this will save a lot of projector screens from getting written on. I can't say how many times I have been describing something that is projected on the screen, and almost wrote on it thinking it was a whiteboard. The Microsoft Touchwall looks like it can be projected straight onto a wall like a projector, or it could be set up as rear projections onto glass (see the pics here). The Touchwall is related to the Microsoft Surface, which is a touchscreen tabletop that can recognize items and let you interact with them. But the Microsoft Surface is about $10 grand and isn't very widely available. This will be (not quite yet). Think about how cool window shopping would be, if this were projected on the window? You could be walking down Main Street in Park City, pass JANS, and see some new fly fishing gear spotlighted in the window. You touch the window and it comes to life with all sorts of details about the gear that is spotlighted in the window. You drag around, view some video, and decide to walk in and buy. Whole new experience, man. Anyway, enjoy these pics & this video that were posted on TechCrunch earlier today about it. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPrfqdl55D0[/youtube]...Read more...
Have you read Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild" yet? Well, if you're planning your own little trek into the wild then you just might consider taking a mobile GPS device so you don't end up lost and dead. The perfect setup at the right price just might be the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS Bundle that is available for cheap from REI right now. That way you get everything you'll need in one tidy, cheap gear package. For me, cheap gear that is also good gear is always a little tough to come by. The only cheap gear I find is when it is a pair of old K2 Gyrators from '91 on eBay...not exactly what you would care to drop a dime on. But the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS Bundle is a different story (albeit with a name that's a mouthful). Not only do you get a carrying case with the mobile GPS receiver, you also get an extra 128MB MicroSD card and a Topo 2008 DVD with all the topo to keep you rocking. The display is 256-color TFT so that it is readable in sunlight, and the memory is expandable with more SD cards as needed. The GPS receive has fast signal acquisition, boasts the sensitivity to work even in locations that are not open-air (such as valleys & dense forests). Heck, it's even waterproof to IEC 529 IPX7 standards with the weatherproof case. The unit has a trip computer that can give you your average speed, current speed, sunset/sunrise, and the time and distance of your trips. One thing I think is invaluable is its ability to calculate barometric pressure and record elevation gain/loss --- this is NOT your typical "Neverlost" GPS device that is only good for telling you to get on a freeway and go to the nearest Hertz location. This is a device for serious outdoorsmen -- whether hunting, or fishing, or camping, or backcountry skiing. Click here for more details on the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS Bundle that is currently on sale at REI....Read more...
Why do you wear headphones? Where do you wear headphones? If you wear your headphones to get clean accurate sound in environments where you want to focus without interruptions, these are for you. These headphones produce a clean clear sound. The fit is perfect, and like the name suggest, they feel very custom. The snug fit produces an almost noise canceling effect blocking out all surrounding or ambient noise. I'd say these headphones would be perfect for the audiophile on the commute, at the gym or for use at your desk at work. Klipsch is known for powerful, accurate and clean audio. These headphones are a good example and representation of the quality and precision they are know for. These headphones come with a really nice case that can double as an iPod carrying case, a few options for ear jells to insure your custom fit, and an extension for the two pronged 1/8th inch headphone jacks seen on airplanes. Summary These Custom-2 headphones produce a bright, clean and obscured sound quality consistent with some of the other high end headphones on the market. They are stylish and fit well. Where to buy www.klipsch.com Price: $199 Product Suggestions I'd prefer to hear a little more bass boost, have a volume control on the cord, and give the user some options for ear gels that let a little more ambient sound in....Read more...
Boy things have come a long way since smoke signals. The SPOT Satellite Personal Messenger and Personal Tracker is definitely a piece of gear that any solo trekkers, climbers, hunters, fishermen, and canyoneering crazies should consider. When you are indulging your inner Aron Ralston in the middle of the Utah desert, wouldn't it be nice to just push a button and know that people will be dispatched to your exact coordinates? That's what the SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker does, via commercial satellite. It can also send "OK" messages, and can even send and save points along your route to Google Maps. When you get home you can send your friends a view of all the cool remote places you've been. Of course, if you don't have a clear shot of the open sky then you may still have to amputate your arm and get out of that slot canyon before it will work. The SPOT Personal Tracker is a lot cheaper than satellite phones or cell-based GPS. And it gets far wider coverage than any cell phone. The SPOT Personal Tracker claims to have almost complete coverage anywhere in the US, Europe, or Australia. What stinks is the coverage over Africa, Asia and South America. So if you are hitting Aconcagua, I'm sure you won't be banking on this little baby. While the promise of cheap, easy security is extremely appealing (especially to solo adventurers with a caring spouse and kids) there are have been some reports that the coverage is less than perfect -- even in the US. Also, that sending OK messages, etc, is a bit difficult because there are times when you have to leave it absolutely still for 30 mins for it to send. Oh well -- nothing's perfect. In situations where you need this piece of high tech gear, your other alternative is a storm whistle. That ain't gonna cut it. Be advised, you will have to pay $99/year for a subscription to the service -- and for about $8 bucks more you can get emergency extraction assistance in countries that don't have emergency services. All this leads me to add this to my list of things that I definitely would like to try out at Outdoor Retailer this summer. So stay tuned, and hopefully and I will have the opportunity to provide you a first-person summary of how it works in the field. Purchase price is listed at $149.95. Click here to learn more or to buy the SPOT Satellite Personal Messenger and Personal Tracker....Read more...
Let me tell you about a very neglected piece of gear that never gets a gear review because sometimes folks think that electronics gear isn't really outdoor gear. Let me tell you, they are wrong. The gear I'm talking about is your trusty digital camera --- and I consider gear like this to be critical gear because when you have an adventure outdoors, nothing helps you reminisce like browsing the pics you took while you were out there in it. So just FYI -- you'll be seeing more of this kind of gear on GEAR.com for this reason: Just because you can't mount your ski bindings on something, doesn't mean it isn't gear. And I write about the gear I rely on every day, and that includes a killer digital camera. And that's what the Canon PowerShot SD1000 is -- a killer digital camera.
Reason #1It is tiny. And when you are skinning up Patsey Marley ridge in Little Cottonwood Canyon, you definitely don't want to be hefting heavy, bulky camera gear on your person or in your pack. We fuss so much over the weight of our skis, bindings, boots, packs, gore-tex jackets, ski helmets, poles. Heck, I even knew guys that tore the tongues out of their boots and drilled holes in the plastic shells just to reduce weight! But then we grab any old camera and stuff it in our pack. Well, the Canon PowerShot SD1000 is only 4.4 ounces so I definitely think it fits into the "lightweight" category. It is less than an inch thick (0.8 inches to be precise) and is 3.4 inches wide and just 2.1 inches tall. Get a slim enough carrying case for it, and that will slip easily into the napoleon pocket of your Arc' Teryx jacket. Another good location for it -- the perfectly sized hip belt pocket of your Dakine Ridge pack (see this video review of it to see the pocket). Man, I love tiny details like that on gear because you know the designer gets it.
Reason #2It takes killer stills, and good video...and it is STILL tiny. ;-) As a 7.1 megapixel digital camera, you know the SD1000 is going to take sharp pictures that can be blown up & printed at 8x11 without any real pixelation or degradation in image quality. But what else is killer is that the camera also has 3x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom. The LCD screen on the back isn't as large as some other digital cameras that I've seen but it is plenty adequate: 2.5" and crystal clear. Still, I recommend putting a no-scratch adhesive on it to protect it. I wish it had image stabilization, but I honestly have used this thing so much in awkward, steep, snowy situations and have rarely come out with blurry pics. Also, the video is quite clear and captures audio too. Check out this short video review of the Black Diamond GlideLite climbing skins to see a video shot entirely with this tiny little digital camera. Of course, any picture degradation you see there is mostly the result of the compression I had to do on the video clips when I uploaded them to Viddler. If I were to burn the video to disk or just view it on my computer, it would come out crystal. But uploading it to the web, you obviously have to compress it so that it streams the best possible on most connections. Obviously, that's not the camera's fault --- the camera shot it clean. I have found that I now do all my home video, as well as any video that I'm going to upload to the Internet, on this camera. I have had many different high-end miniDV video cameras over the years. And I've paid a pretty penny for them all. But I hate them now. I hate having to find a particular spot on the tape, upload it second-by-second to my harddrive, and then edit it. This digital camera saves your movie clips as individual files -- so you just grab them, drag them to your desktop, and voila --- you have your video clip ready to upload to Viddler or YouTube.
Reason #3It is very cheap (and did I mention that it's tiny??). I bought mine on CircuitCity.com and it was only $170 (click here to check it out at current prices). Another very cool thing is that you can do in-store pickup at Circuit City. That's right -- if you are impatient like me, you can order your camera on CircuitCity.com while you are on your lunch break at work, and then swing by the store on your way home to pick it up. How awesome is that?? So try out Circuit City's same-day in-store pickup and satisfy your inner "spoiled brat" who wants it all right now. Now, I certainly don't want to whitewash this gear. Yes I think it's a killer piece of electronics gear, but this is a quick electronics gear review. And I do have some gripes that you should know:
- It has automatic face detection, which allegedly finds faces in the picture you're about to take and focuses in on them. However, you'll be amused to know that my buddy's touring backpack looks like a very nylon-like face to the camera. Strike one.
- It uses SD, which is technically better but it means that those of you who had previous Canon PowerShot cameras that used Compact Flash will have to buy a bunch of new memory cards.
- You can't upload directly to YouTube like several other new cameras can. So you have to bother with USB cables and such just to get your pics onto your computer, and then uploaded to YouTube.
- The battery is okay, but it performs so-so in the cold -- meaning it's best to NOT use the LCD screen when you are in the cold, because it will sap the battery juice fast. And you don't have the option of getting disposable batteries. So if you are doing an extended trek of several days, then you'll need to bring several fully-charged spare batteries. That stinks.