Oct 07

5 Excellent Power Banks to Keep Your Mobile Devices Charged

I have about nearly 10 mobile batteries in my house and constantly rotate out 3 or 4 of them whenever I travel for a variety of purposes.  If I know I will only be gone a day or two, I will pick smaller batteries that are easier to pack in a small bag.  But if I am going to be gone 4 or more days I will pack my larger batteries and on smaller portable one to make sure I have ample power to keep my mobile devices charged before I am able to get to an A/C outlet.  This could be you spend long hours in a conference room or in meetings for a full day, or you simply are stuck on a flight for 6+ hours to you just being a passenger in a really long road trip.

These 5 External Batteries which are also known as Power Banks or Portable Batteries, will help make sure your USB chargeable mobile devices stay fully charged for as long as you need them to between access to an A/C Wall outlet.

EC Technology 22400mAh External Battery

 

The EC Technology 22400mAh External battery provides an amazing amount of power in this battery that is about twice as long and as thick as an iPhone 6.  It has 2 USB ports and can charge a Smartphone and a tablet at the same time, doesn’t matter if you use Android or iOS devices it will charge them.  It’s power bank can charge a smartphone 10+ times and it has enough battery to charge a full 10″ tablet 2-3 times depending on the battery size of your tablet.  All in all, this is one of the best bang for the buck external batteries as it also has an LED flashlight built in for finding cables in the dark. The one disadvantage is it’s size, it is very bulky and too bulky for a purse, pocket or other small pouch and this one is better for longer trips where you pack a full travel back or have a backpack like if you are going on a multiday camping adventure.

You can buy the EC Technology 22400mAh External Battery here.

 

Anker  2nd Gen Astro 3 12000mAh Battery

 

The Anker 2nd Gen Astro 3 is one of my all time favorite external batteries, not only does it have 3 USB ports so that you can charge 2 smart phones and 1 tablet at the same time, but it has IQ ports that are able to charge up to 4A off a single port, so you literally don’t have to worry about 1 port being only for Samsung tablets, another only for iPhone…etc.  You can plug any device into any port and it will adjust and provide just the right amount of power to make sure your device charges quickly.  The little circle of light showing how much charge is left has more indicators than a typical 4 button light too and a quick shake will wake up the battery and start charging whatever is connected to it or show you how much battery is left.

It does have mid range capacity and is slightly thicker but shorter than the EC Technology power bank, but it makes up for less capacity with being able to charge 3 mobile devices at the same time.

Buy One Now!

 

RAVPower Deluxe External Battery Charger

 

RavPower also makes a fine 14000mAh external battery that also has an LED flashlight built in.  This one can charge a Smartphone 7-8 times and offers tablet and phone charging at the same time.  It is smaller and thinner than both the previous 2 chargers listed and has slightly more capacity than the Anker Astro 3 though doesn’t have a 3rd USB port.

Buy One Here!

 

New Trent PowerPak Xtreme

The New Trent PowerPak Xtreme is an ideal choice for those who go into the Wilderness or in environments where there is a good chance your external battery will face the harsh elements of nature.  This pairs perfectly if you use a Lifeproof or Otterbox Defender case and this is the only one of the batteries listed in this post that is Waterproof, Dirt Proof and Shock Proof.  Meaning this thing can handle rain, and being dropped in the dirt and is ideal if you are hiking or camping in deserts or the forest.  This 12000mAh External Battery comes in either Gray or Orange and is perfect if you really need an external battery than can withstand a drop or the elements.

Buy One Now!

Anker 2nd Gen Astro Mini

 

Finally the last device in our roundup is listed because out of all the lipstick external batteries (which is what they are called because they are shaped like a lipstick and only slightly larger) this one has the most capacity at 3200mAh.  This one is extremely portable and comes in 4 color choices (Black, Silver, Gold or Pink as pictured above).  This is the most portable of just about all the external batteries and really is ideal if you need to slip it in your pocket or a small bag or purse and just carry enough charge to keep your phone alive for up to 7 extra hours of talk time or up to 70 hours of music play time according to the product specs.  It will only charge your smartphone and not a tablet but if you are in a pinch and need the ultimate portable smartphone charger then the Anker Astro Mini is the one you want.

Buy One Now

 

 

 

Oct 06

Playing Some Guild Wars 2 Again

This past weekend my oldest son decided to start a new character in Guild Wars 2 and get back into the game after taking a 6 month hiatus, he had grown a little weary and got tired of the game but recently after experiencing the new structured changes in how they designed the levels, reward system and pacing of the traits, skills and ability increases he really found it to be quite exciting and almost like a new game again.  I already have 2 level 80 characters but had not played the game much as I enjoyed playing it more with my kids than solo and was quite honestly distracted by Hearthstone and Destiny for the past several months but it was fun to dive back in to Guild Wars 2 and I am looking forward to taking my 3rd character Gunther Dragonclaw who also was my very 1st character created 2 years ago to Level 80.  He is currently level 63.

My son even was asking for Guild Wars 2 branded headphones, mouse and mouse pad (I have the SteelSeries Mousepad) lately.

I still think that for MMORPG games that don’t have a monthly subscription fee, Guild Wars 2 is one of the best choices, though I do wish that the level 1 – 20 content and the daily events were a little more varied, after playing them and moving through the low level areas for 2 years there is little variation anywhere except for the living story at this point anymore.

Sep 30

Back to DISH Network from Cox Cable

For anyone who has been following my personal blog you may have remembered that back in June 2014 I had switched from DISH Network to Cox Cable in an effort to test Contour and other television services.  I had been a DISH network customer for 11 years for television and I didn’t know if really had the best television provider out there.  I was plagued with some DVR lock up issues with the HD PVR 922 model receiver from DISH the one prior to The Hopper and there were some issues with the 2nd TV stream being sluggish and slow to respond to channel changes and the like and I wanted to try something different.

Enter Cox Communications, I LOVE COX Internet, I will say that over and over.  I get amazing download speeds and have been a COX Internet customer for over a decade as well.  So I was willing to see if their television cable service was any good and Contour with whole home DVR system looked promising.  I thought it may have been more stable than Cox and originally the sales tech told me that with Cox I can watch my TV shows from anywhere via my mobile devices which turned out to be a lie and only works when you are within your home Wi-Fi network.

Since having Cox Television service I had the DVR lockup and crash while I was out of town for a month, this meant a whole month of no shows recording in July.  They replaced it, only for the box to crash again in September.  But in between I noticed some key usability functions in the Cox television service that gnawed at me like peeves that wouldn’t go away.

Cox has no 30 second skip forward button

Seriously, I had used this so frequently with DISH network for so many years that it’s absence was greatly felt.  When you watch a prerecorded show with DISH and you get a commercial there is a button which auto skips 30 seconds ahead.  Cox has a fast forward button, that is like a 2x, 4x..etc FF but it isn’t a 30 second skip so it takes much longer to skip past commercials or you risk speeding too far and then having to back track.  Yes, when you hit play it tries to go back assuming you jumped too far but it isn’t enough and is clumsy.

Cox Channel Arrangement is Baffling

DISH Network puts the HD and regular non-HD (not many left) channels on the same actual channel, so basically no matter which version of the channel, it is the same channel.  It defaults to HD version unless you specify the non-HD version in all cases when you have an HD TV.  Cox does the odd thing of putting the non-HD channels in the very low numbers and the HD channels starting in the 1000’s series of channel numbers.  This means if you are bouncing between a few non-HD Channels into the HD Channel range you either have to create your own customized TV Channel Guide or have to skip up quite a bit to the different range of channels.

Cox Contour Doesn’t Work Outside of Home Wi-Fi

So you can DVR and watch your Cox content anywhere in your home and within range of your home Wi-Fi router.  This is disappointing, with DISH Anywhere I was able to watch live TV and my recorded DVR content from any network anywhere in the country.  The caveat was that it streams up from your DISH DVR so your upload speeds and Wi-Fi connectivity needed to be rock solid, which wasn’t always the case with my HD PVR 922 model.  However, when it did work it was brilliant and I could watch anything on my DISH while being in California.

Cox Was 60% More Expensive than DISH Network

When I was on the phone with Cox Representatives they told me they couldn’t beat DISH Network on price, that nobody could.  Note, this is as they were selling me the service they told me they had no chance to beat DISH on price.  They told me during the 1 year “discount” period they got close, they were $17 more per month than DISH network for same channel line up.  After discount period they would be $35 more per month than DISH Network for the exact same channel line up.  DISH took me back with a code that made it even cheaper than it was previously, so I wound up paying even less than when I cancelled DISH in the first place too.

Cox DVR Lockup Issues

The final straw and when I cancelled Cox was when during Season Premiere week the main DVR locked up and crashed, HDD NOT FOUND errors, the entire season premiere week of shows about 7 of them was lost.  When I called Cox and complained, they assured me that they would replace my DVR as often as I needed it to be.  This rubbed me the wrong way, this was the 2nd time a DVR needed to be replaced in less than 4 months and they just told me they would keep replacing it said nothing about it’s stability.

Back to DISH Network

So now I am 3 days back on DISH Network and this time with The Hopper and Joey system. I have to say immediately it is far superior to the DVR 922 series receiver and the DISH Primetime Anytime is the most brilliant service ever created after testing it for the first time these past few days.  Many of my shows are on the primary networks Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and with Primetime Anytime, The Hopper will auto record all primetime shows without you having to set a timer for every show, every day of the week you want.  You can still watch the show live or slightly delayed and skip commercials in 30 second increments, but where it really shines is if you watch the show the next day.  The Hopper allows you to completely bypass commercials when you watch a Primetime Anytime show the next day with this feature, it automatically knows and skips the entire commercial chunk for you without you having to lift a finger.  I did this during a few shows including The Simpsons and was very impressed how efficient it was.  I was so programmed to hit Skip 30 that my finger kept reaching for the remote when I saw a commercial about to come on, but The Hopper just skipped past and the show came back on.

So far I can’t speak to reliability for The Hopper as it has only been 3 days, but I love having the more intuitive DISH Network remote, buttons and guide back and The Hopper with Primetime Anytime is a brilliant service that had I tried previously I may not have left DISH network to try Cox TV in the first place.

Reminder

Cox Internet is awesome I get 100Mbps download speeds, DISH network can’t even compare with their crappy satellite Internet service which is only good for very rural areas.  So I still love Cox Internet and wouldn’t switch unless Google fiber were in my area, but for me DISH Network still reigns supreme in the television provider space.

Sep 27

Unboxing the Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000

Man this was a fun router to unbox, one of the largest routers with 6 antenna that can fold flat into the router, no screw on antennas here.  I am working on a multi-week review of the router, but teasing with an unboxing for now:

Sep 26

Toys”R”Us® Names LeapFrog’s New LeapTV™ To Its “Fabulous 15″ Toy List

EMERYVILLE, Calif., Sept. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:LF), the leader in educational entertainment, today announced that LeapTV™, its brand new educational, active video game system, was identified as one of the most sought-after holiday toys this year on the prestigious Toys”R”Us’®“Fabulous 15″ list. LeapTV’s inclusion in the “Fabulous 15″ on the Toys”R”Us 2014 Holiday Hot Toy List marks the fourth consecutive year that LeapFrog has been included on this list of the most coveted holiday toys.

“After months of traveling the world and testing hundreds of new products, our team of toy experts curated a selection of the best-of-the-best toys – the ‘Fabulous 15′ – including LeapTV, which we expect to top shoppers’ lists as one of the must-have gifts this season,” said Jamie Uitdenhowen, Vice President, General Merchandising Manager, Toys”R”Us, U.S. “LeapTV exemplifies LeapFrog’s legacy of creating incredible educational entertainment experiences. There is no doubt that the innovative LeapTV system will top many children’s holiday wish lists this year.”

“It is a tremendous honor to be included in the 2014 Toys”R”Us ‘Fabulous 15′ list and to have our latest innovation, LeapTV, identified as one of the hottest items for kids this holiday season,” said John Barbour, chief executive officer at LeapFrog. “LeapTV is the best first video game experience for younger children with an extensive Learning Library of world-class games and videos for kids three to eight years old. Our team of talented game designers and our full-time in-house learning experts has created an incredible learning experience that combines three ways for children to play games – classic controller, pointer play, and body motion – making it an educational video game experience that will also get them moving. If parents do not want to be left empty-handed this holiday, they should take advantage of the pre-sale as LeapTV is expected to be a sell-out this holiday.”

The 2014 Toys”R”Us ‘Fabulous 15′ list represents the best new toy introductions of the year that are expected to be at the top of kids’ wish lists for the holidays. By releasing their list in September, Toys”R”Us is able to provide parents with early shopping advice so they can be sure to get that “must-have” gift for their child. Additionally, LeapFrog will be introducing a black version of LeapTV exclusively at Toys”R”Us stores nationwide and Toysrus.com next month. The white version of the LeapTV console (MSRP $149.99) and cartridge games (MSRP$29.99) are currently available for pre-order online at Toysrus.com.

About LeapTV

LeapTV is the first educational active video gaming system from LeapFrog that gets kids into the action while teaching a range of skills across reading, mathematics, science and problem solving. With simple and intuitive user interfaces created with first-time players in mind, LeapTV provides first time players three ways to play, motion control, pointer play, and a classic controller mode. Using LeapTV’s camera, children are put right into the game seeing themselves dance, play sports and more while they experience curricular challenges along the way. Leap TV also includes a transforming gaming controller that has been specifically designed for children’s small hands and limited dexterity. In its regular configuration, it enables classic gameplay, but with the simple press of a button it easily transforms into a motion controller and LED pointer controller.  The LeapTV system includes console, motion-sensing camera, camera mount, transforming controller with wrist strap, HDMI cable, 16GB of memory and built-in Wi-Fi for downloading apps (sold separately).

LeapTV provides access to LeapFrog’s Learning Library of more than 100 game cartridges, game downloads and videos* all designed or approved by LeapFrog’s team of gaming and learning experts. Unique to LeapFrog, the Learning Team includes a full-time in-house team of five learning experts, all with PhDs in various specialties including education, child development and educational psychology. The first major title launches for LeapTV were created through a combination of great game play design and educational input from the LeapFrog Learning Team.

As part of the LeapFrog Learning Library, LeapTV’s first eight major title launches feature many current kid-favorite characters as well as the very popular Tad, Leap and Lily from LeapFrog’s top-selling Letter Factory Adventures animated video series.

  • LeapFrog Sports (for children 4-7 years old): Become a mathematics MVP! Get up and get learning with nine exciting sports games powered by active play. Knock subtraction skills out of the park, karate-chop shapes, block goals with number-line power, swim, climb and more while competing with a friend!
  • LeapFrog Kart Racing: Supercharged! (for children 4-8 years old): Put the pedal to the metal and race for victory in five tournaments driven by active play. Choose from eight wild karts and tune up pre-race using addition, subtraction, multiplication and early algebra. Then tilt and turn to blast around tracks, solo or against a friend!
  • LeapFrog Dance & Learn (for children 4-7 years old): Dance, sing and move to the music in nine games that teach early reading skills. Children will love being the star of their own dance party as they appear on TV to drum out rhymes, slap together compound words, flutter like feathers and dance like dinos. Double the fun by inviting a friend!
  • Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates (for children 3-5 years old): Set sail for an action-packed pirate adventure with Jake, Cubby and Izzy! Twist and turn to navigate the sea, chop vines to cross the jungle, fly high to grab gold doubloons and use swashbuckling mathematics smarts to find the treasure.
  • Pixar Pals Plus (for children 4-7 years old): Activate science and reasoning skills in six fun-filled mini-games, and unlock pieces to six challenging puzzles! Team up with Buzz and Woody to toy with simple machines, dive into ocean science with Dory and Nemo, and scare up electrifying new knowledge with Mike and Sulley.
  • Disney Sofia the First: Sofia’s Picnic Games (for children 3-5 years old): Join Sofia the First and train for the Tri-Kingdom games in this enchanting princess-powered adventure! Fly on Minimus, tiptoe through woodland obstacles, tilt and turn to sled down a hill and grow royal reading skills in Sofia’s garden.
  • Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man (for children 4-7 years old): Swing into action as Spider-Man and restore order to New York! When Doc Ock and his cohorts stir up trouble, it is up to the child to save the city. Run, jump, wall crawl, sling webs and unleash reading skills in 36 exciting stages of active, educational play.
  • Bubble Guppies Fin-tastic Field Trips! (for children ages 3-5 years old): Dive into three fin-tastic field trips with Gil and Molly! Explore transportation in Big Bubble City, dig up dinosaur fossils, spring into action to clean up Puppy Park, and dive into learning about people and places, recycling, fossils and more.

Additional games, videos and apps available for download via the App Center for LeapTV.

Availability

The LeapTV system (MSRP $149.99, for children 3-8 years old) is currently available for pre-sale online. LeapTV will be available online and at major retail locations beginning mid-October. Game cartridges (MSRP $29.99) will be available online and at major retail locations beginning mid-October, and downloadable games and apps (starting at MSRP $5.00 and up) will be available via the LeapFrog App Center beginning December 2014. For more information, visit www.leapfrog.com/leaptv.

About LeapFrog
LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. is the leader in educational entertainment for children. For nearly 20 years, LeapFrog has created award-winning learning solutions that combine educational expertise, innovative technology and a child’s love for fun. With experiences that are personalized to each child’s level, LeapFrog helps children achieve their potential through LeapFrog’s proprietary learning tablets, learn to read and write systems, interactive learning toys and more, all designed or approved by LeapFrog’s full-time in-house team of learning experts. LeapFrog’s Learning Path, the ultimate guide for parents on early childhood, is designed specifically to help support and guide their child’s learning with personalized ideas and feedback, fun activities and expert advice. LeapFrog is based inEmeryville, California, and was founded in 1995 by a father who revolutionized technology-based learning solutions to help his child learn how to read. Learn more at www.leapfrog.com.

* Downloadable apps and videos available by the end of the year.

TM & © 2014 LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

List Price: $149.99
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