Recent Short Gadget Picks

I still loathe YouTube Shorts but I am making a few of them on the Gadget Picks channel for smaller gadget finds I come across. Shorts on my Amazon channel do much better than YouTube but I may as well put them in both places! Here’s a few of my latest finds. Each title link will bring you to my Amazon page (affiliate link) where you can see pricing and availability.

USB-C Cable with Power Meter

This USB-C cable is not your ordinary cable; it features a built-in power meter. The cable supports up to 100 Watts and provides information about its mode, such as USB-C PD. A point to note: the meter’s display appears brighter on camera than in reality but still a quick way to monitor the power flow going into your device.

Bamboo Wireless Qi Charger

This USB-C powered bamboo wireless charger is a stylish and functional accessory designed for three devices: a phone, an Apple Watch, and ear pods that support wireless charging. It’s versatile, compatible with various brands, and offers a maximum charging capacity of 15 watts. The only issue I encountered is that the magnet for the watch is a bit too weak.

Bluetooth Number Pad

This Bluetooth number pad not only provides numerical keys but also includes nicely sized arrow keys. It’s a great addition for those who might find certain keys missing from their laptop keyboards. Compatible with both Windows and Mac, it also offers keys for screen brightness control, tab, delete, page up/down, and more.

Amaste Milk Frother

Elevate your coffee game with the Amaste Milk Frother. Designed for easy cleaning, the frother uses a magnet mechanism and boasts three modes: froth without temperature, warm froth, and hot milk. Using skim milk, I achieved a rich frothy output that was quite impressive.

Disclosure: These products came in free of charge through the Amazon Vine program. I had no contact with the manufacturer, no one reviewed or approved this video before uploading, and no other compensation was received.

Lenovo’s Yoga Book 9i: A Dual OLED Display Laptop

Lenovo often likes to test new ideas in the marketplace vs. the lab. The new Yoga Book 9i, is a testament to that. This unique device, which at first glance appears to be a standard 2-in-1 laptop, replaces the traditional keyboard and trackpad with a second OLED display. You can see it in action in my latest review.

The Yoga Book 9i is a premium device, retailing at around $2000. It’s equipped with a 13th generation Intel i7 i1355u processor, 16GB of dual-channel memory, and a 512GB NVMe SSD. The device is not upgradable, so what you buy is what you get. However, it’s adequately equipped for its target market.

Both OLED screens run at 400 nits, offering 100% of DCI P3 in a 16:10 aspect ratio. The displays are vibrant with excellent contrast ratios and HDR support. The 2.8K resolution translates to 2880 by 1800 on each display.

The device is slightly heavier than a typical laptop of its size, weighing in at just under three pounds. This is due to the additional display and the glass associated with it. Battery life is also a consideration, with the dual displays consuming significant power, especially when running creative software with high screen brightness. Expect around five to six hours of battery life under typical work conditions.

The Yoga Book 9i comes with a Bluetooth keyboard, a pen, and a stand. The keyboard can be used detached from the computer, and when attached, it triggers a virtual trackpad on the lower display. I do wish they integrated a ThinkPad-like trackpoint into the keyboard as the virtual trackpad can be a little tricky to navigate vs. a physical one. The pen works well on both displays, supporting pressure detection and offering a good level of friction for a more natural writing experience. Unfortunately none of the included accessories dock or garage themselves so you’ll need to accommodate and keep track of them when out and about.

Performance-wise, the Yoga Book 9i is quite good. It handles video playback, web browsing, word processing, and even some gaming. There are a few games like Asphalt 9 that take advantage of the dual display layout. I also tested Red Dead Redemption 2 that ran at about 35 frames per second at 1900×1200. The device also performs well with creative work, such as video editing and photo editing, thanks to the quality of the displays.

However, Linux compatibility is currently a no-go, as Ubuntu did not properly detect the displays in my testing. For now, Windows seems to be the optimal operating system for this device.

The Lenovo Yoga Book 9i is a unique and innovative device that offers a new approach to computing. While it may not be for everyone, those in the creative field may find a lot of utility in its dual-display setup.

HP Dragonfly Pro Review

The new HP Dragonfly Pro is the subject of my latest laptop review.

The Dragonfly Pro is a Windows-based laptop aimed at meeting the needs of freelancers and independent contractors. With a starting price of $1,399, the device is powered by AMD’s Ryzen 7 7736U processor and has a power system designed jointly with AMD to boost the system’s responsiveness while preserving battery life.

The base model comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, with options for a 32GB RAM and 1TB storage configuration. The system is not upgradeable as all components are soldered on the mainboard.

The Dragonfly Pro features a 14-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920×1200 and a 16:10 aspect ratio, suitable for document editing tasks. Weighing in at hefty 3.53 pounds (1.6 kilograms), the laptop’s recycled aluminum construction provides durability.

The backlit keyboard on the Dragonfly Pro has well-spaced keys and adequate key travel, contributing to a comfortable typing experience. The haptic trackpad is responsive and can be adjusted according to user preference. For video conferencing, the laptop comes with a 1440p webcam.

The sound quality on the Dragonfly Pro is clear, but it lacks a headphone jack and card reader. The laptop offers two USB 4 ports providing compatibility with external GPUs and Thunderbolt 3 devices. Those two ports are on the left side of the unit and a single (slower) USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port is on the righthand side.

Battery life is decent for a Windows laptop and thanks to the hardware based power management system does not require a settings change to maximize longevity. The system is tuned to deliver performance when necessary and dial it back when not needed. It’ll easily get through a workday provided the user sticks to the basics.

In terms of performance, the Dragonfly Pro is capable of handling web browsing, media consumption, and basic office tasks easily delivering some of the snappiness promised in the marketing. It can also manage video editing and casual gaming, delivering average frame rates on popular titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Fortnite.

Ubuntu 23.04 booted on the laptop but unfortunately audio was not detected properly.

Overall, the HP Dragonfly Pro offers a range of features and performance at a competitive price point, making it a potential option for freelancers and independent professionals in the market for a new work laptop.

Unihertz Atom XL Review – a Phone with a Built-in Two Way Radio

I don’t think you’ll find a more creative smartphone maker than Unihertz. They make a lot of different phones and no two are alike. Some cater to Blackberry fans with physical keyboards and others cater to those who want something really tiny. All of the phones they make are super rugged and built like tanks. You can see my full playlist here.

This latest phone in their lineup does something I’ve never seen a smartphone do by adding a full function two-way walkie talkie radio to the mix. This is not some app that works over Wi-Fi but rather an actual radio transmitter that will interoperate with other radios on the same frequency. It even works with the digital DMR standard. See my full review here!

As a phone it seems to perform well – good battery life, adequate enough performance (but definitely on the low end) and compatibility with T-mobile and Verizon here in the United States. It has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with the option to also add an SD card to the mix. Without the SD card installed it’ll support two nano sim cards.

The phone is waterproof and super rugged with a nice compact 4″ display. It’s small but not tiny and I think would work well for those looking for a supplementary phone while traveling. It’s not all that expensive either at around $340 unlocked.

The two-way radio feature delivered far more features than I expected but users need to be mindful of what frequencies you’re operating on to avoid being fined by the FCC!

The radio is tunable from 400-480mhz – a huge swath of the “70 centimeter” band. Only a sliver of this band is accessible to unlicensed consumers in the FRS frequencies. Licensed amateur radio operators can use it between 420 and 450 mhz in the United States but should follow the ARRL’s band plan for proper operation.

But if you’re not licensed you need to spend some time programming the two way radio function properly. Unihertz provided no documentation or warnings in the box nor was my phone programmed with FRS frequencies out of the box. In fact it was operating on channels the US government uses for satellite communications and work its way into amateur frequencies that are not authorized for non-licensed use.

Although the phone is not type rated for the unlicensed FRS frequencies those are the ones that you should operate on being mindful of not using the phone’s two watt transmission power on channels 8-14.

The phone offers some additional features for amateur operators including support for repeaters with differing input and output frequencies, CTCSS tones, etc. I was surprised that its support for the DMR digital standard is extensive and worked with my local DMR repeater along with my Anytone handheld DMR radio. I was also able to send DMR text messages.

Overall this is another fun and quirky phone from Unihertz that delivers a lot for a low price. But users need to be very careful to program its two-way radio feature to avoid being fined by the FCC.