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Review: Electrostatic vs. Electromagnetic? The BenQ treVolo S Bluetooth Speaker Rocks Both!

In Audio, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Do you know how a speaker works? Or do you just sit back and listen to the sound coming from a box or tube? The physics behind moving air in regulated patterns is fascinating. (Oh, and by the way, all of those space movies and TV shows are breaking the laws of physics since space is airless and sound waves cannot travel through a vacuum – that explosion you hear in the movies? That’s Hollywood at its finest! But I digress.) A majority of speakers on the market today use this process of a flexible dome or cone vibrating and moving air to produce sound. But there are some other speakers, like the BenQ treVolo S, that employ a newer and different type of technology to produce rich, crisp, and clear sound. It’s an electrostatic speaker. How does it work? And more importantly, how does it sound? Read on for more! (*Disclosure below)

HTD BenQ treVolo S speaker review - open

Before I dive into my review of the BenQ treVolo S electrostatic speaker, let’s do a quick explainer on how traditional speakers (electromagnetic) and electrostatic speakers work. First, let’s talk about electromagnetic speakers. The concept is fairly simple. There are 3 fundamental parts to an electromagnetic speaker: the cone, the coil, and the magnet. The cone is on the front of the speaker which consists of fabric or paper or a flexible material. You can think of the cone as a type of drum. The outer part of the cone is essentially fixed to the full speaker, making it immobile. And the inner part (more at the center) is attached to an iron coil which, in turn, is in front of a magnet. The magnet is attached to the back of the speaker, also immobile. So, the only part that moves is the inner part of the cone that has the iron coil.

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Everyone Should Have the ARCHEER Bluetooth Transmitter & Receiver! Here’s Why!

In Audio, Cellular, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Mobile, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Everyone should have one of these devices. And I don’t just say this because I have one. But it is one of those devices that is like a Swiss Army Knife. We all love Bluetooth, right? Well, not every device has Bluetooth built in – for transmitting or receiving. This gadget from ARCHEER is a Bluetooth transmitter AND receiver in a really small form factor (and a very nice price). How do I explain what it does? Well, first, I will start with some examples – see if any of these match any of your use cases. (*Disclosure below.)

ARCHEER Bluetooth Transmitter & Receiver review - optical links

Example #1: You have a TV. And you want to watch it at night but you don’t want to wake up the kids/baby/spouse/significant other. And the TV doesn’t have Bluetooth. So, you can either try to listen at really low levels but that’s not fun. You could get a pair of headphones with a really long cord, but who wants to be literally tied up with cords. Or you could hook up the ARCHEER Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver and set it to transmit mode and then just connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Super easy!

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Review: Fingbox Will Be Parents’ Favorite Way to Manage Kids’ Online Time & More

In Application, Consumer Electronics, Family, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review, Safety, Security, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Fingbox is my wife and my new favorite gadget at home. And my kids hate it. This puck-sized device plugs into your network at home and opens up a new realm of control and knowledge about each and every device that connects to your home network, wired or wireless. It has a variety of features that I, as the at-home IT guy, absolutely love, and I will go into those. But the Fingbox feature that parents will love and kids will hate, is the ability to “pause” Internet access on selected devices. So, if you are looking for an easy way to manage connected devices (all of them on your network), you are going to want to read this review. (*Disclosure below.)

Fingbox Review - glowing rings

There are many solutions out on the market now that provide parental controls and the ability to block websites of certain types. And while these solutions are useful, they often require you to change your DNS server settings to run through their service. DNS (Domain Name Service) essentially translates a website name into a numeric address (like a phone number) to tell where traffic to go. And often, these parental control solutions charge a monthly fee for this privilege of routing all of your traffic through their servers and then to the final destination and back, filtering out the good from the bad. This solution isn’t bad, but with new “bad” sites and services popping up all of the time, it’s sort of a whack-a-mole game – you pound one and another one pops up.

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Check Your Swimmers with this At-Home Male Fertility Test from Trak

In Family, General, Parenting, Review, Sponsored by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Ok yes, talking about male fertility is a bit awkward. But as any parent or want-to-be parent can attest, the conception phase, while often “fun,” can also be a bit stressful. Bringing a child into the world is definitely NOT something to be taken lightly or as an afterthought. And, with people waiting longer to have children, there are risk factors associated with conception and childbirth. I’m not a physician nor even pretend to know much about this topic, other than the fact that I’m happily blessed with three teenaged daughters. But three children was the limit that my wife and I decided on, and, after the third, we decided that I would be “snipped” and have a vasectomy. (Ok yeah, probably too much information here, but I have to provide some context for this review.) So, when I was contacted by Trak to write about the Trak Male Fertility Testing System, I was initially reluctant, just because of this sensitive (and awkward) topic. But after reading more about Trak, I decided this is an important issue to discuss (*Disclosure below.)

Trak Male Fertility Testing System - box

But, then I thought some more about this and realized that my brand, HighTechDad, talks about technology and parenting. And, I thought back to when my family was just starting and young, and we were trying to conceive children. And lastly, how my wife and I were extremely lucky to not have any issues with the conception process. With these things in mind, I realized that others might not be so lucky. And, according to a Trak Mens Health and Lifestyle Report, the average sperm count has fallen by over 50% since 1973 and doesn’t seem to be leveling off. It’s a crisis that no-one seems to really be talking about. Perhaps because it is, as I said, an awkward topic. Or maybe since the focus has mainly been on the female side of fertility. Or, because guys just might not want to schedule an appointment with their doctor to do a sperm count. Do note: the Trak survey does point to some other potential causes like stress at work, work environmental factors, how much sleep a man gets, the type of food men eat, exercise, and consumption of regulated substances (e.g., pot, alcohol, or smoking).

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Small Steps Make A Bigger Impact – Overcoming Violence

In Family, General, Opinion, Parenting, Safety, Security by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

I had to write something. A majority of my articles are about tech, but every once in a while I need to focus on the other part of my brand name – “dad.” I have 3 daughters. They all live at home. Two of them go to schools in the community, one in high school and one in middle school. These past few days have been hard. I cannot fathom the pain, the suffering, the confusion, and the heartbreak facing all of the parents, friends, teachers and faculty, the first-responders, and the community surrounding Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school. Having to bury your child at such a young age, without that child being able to realize their dreams and ambitions, is something no parent should ever face. It’s devastating.

End gun violence at schools

Yet, all that politicians do is offer “thoughts and prayers.” It’s a broken record. And there is no action. Again and again.

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Noon Home Creates Smart Lighting Scenes, Not Switches – Review

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review, Technology, Video by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

There is an important distinction to make within the realm of smart homes and what truly defines “smart.” You can now easily get a “smart” plug or a “smart” switch or a “smart” lightbulb. My home, in fact, has many of different manufacturers. They are all controlled via a “smart” hub or some sort of a “smart” voice controller. I’ll be honest. I love the “smartness” of it all. But when you take a step back and really think about it, is it really “smart?” Or is it just connected and remotely controlled? Does that define what is “smart?” (Ok enough with the quotes around “smart” – you get the idea.) Noon Home has a different idea of what makes up a smart home. And yes, while they do make switches, these are not like any other smart switch that I have encountered. They don’t focus on the switch itself (although their switches are exquisitely designed). Instead, their goal is to create lighting scenes that fit the environment, all programmed and controlled by their intelligent switches (notice I upped it a level from smart?) Let me explain. (*Disclosure below.)

Noon Home Intelligent Switches - wall plate

First, I need to step back a few months. I attended a local tech show for media that had various consumer electronics companies pitching their gadgets. After an hour or so, I had visited the 30 or so companies and pretty much talked to everyone. The last table was that of Noon Home (who I am going to just refer to as Noon). It was towards the end of the night and many folks had moved on. However, about an hour later, I realized that I had been geeking out with the folks at Noon, diving into the details of wiring switches, how different controllers work, the differences in lightbulb types, how some dimmers don’t play well with CFLs or LEDs, and how light truly should be thought about carefully. It turns out that Noon had come out of stealth mode that day, I believe, and had just announced their new products. Needless to say, I was captivated by what they were pitching.

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14 Apple Watch Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About

In Apple, Cellular, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, HTD Tech Tip, iOS, iPhone, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

For the past few months, I have been using the Apple Watch Series 3. But I have been a bit lazy. I have kept it tethered to my iPhone so I haven’t really been using it to its full capabilities. I have the cellular version which has its own number which is magically hidden and mirrored to the actual number of my iPhone. So, if I get a call on my iPhone, it magically rings on my Apple Watch, even if the Watch is not directly connected to my iPhone. I just don’t seem to go anywhere without my iPhone. (But, I may try turning off Bluetooth on my iPhone and have the Watch still be physically next to me.) Regardless, as I spent more time testing out the Apple Watch Series 3, I started to uncover a bunch of features I didn’t even know about. And some of these features work on the earlier models of Apple Watches (while some are specific to the Series 3). Those who use their Watch all of the time will probably simply say – yep, knew about that feature – but for the rest of you who may have received one as a gift over the holidays, or just picked one up, some of these Apple Watch Series 3 tips might be completely new to you.

Apple Watch Tips & Tricks - on laptop

I do have to say, having used the Series 1 for a couple of years, the Series 3 is quite a jump. There are two huge things that truly stood out to me. For starters, the battery is so much better. With my Series 1 (and granted, it is a bit old now), by the end of the day, my Series 1 was gasping for a charge and so every night, I took it off to get it charged back up. With the Series 3, with the same amount of usage, I still had enough battery to keep wearing it through the night and into the next day. The battery is that much better!

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