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March 2019 Product Reviews

 

It’s that time of the month again… when Tech Trends curates a selection of all the weird and wonderful stuff out there that might tempt you to part with cash!

 

Ember Temperature Control Mug

Prolong the enjoyment of your coffee, tea or warm milk with the world’s first temperature control mug. Designed to be used in your home or at your desk, the Ember Ceramic Mug allows you to set your precise drinking temperature. It will then maintain that temperature for approximately one hour, so your hot beverage is perfect from first sip to last drop.

@Ember_Tech makes the world’s first mug that lets you customize and maintain the perfect temperature for your beverage Click To Tweet

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The Ember Ceramic Mug automatically wakes up when your hot beverage is poured in and remembers your last preferred drinking temperature. Click To Tweet

The Mug

  • 295 ml (10 oz)Approx.
  • 1-hour battery life, or all day on charging coaster
  • Temperature range is 50°C – 62.5°C

My memory and/or attention span is so bad that almost every cup of tea I make is left to go cold after the first sip so I was excited to test this out. It works, that’s it really, it is a good idea well executed! The mug itself, the 10oz version, is a little small but now available, in the US only, is a larger 14oz version that will keep fans of venti lattes happy.

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The app allows you to select your optimum drinking temperature, save favorite presets, receive notifications when your ideal drinking temperature is reached, and track caffeine consumption Click To Tweet

Ember mugs connect to the Ember app for complete customization. The app allows you to select your optimum drinking temperature, save favorite presets, receive notifications when your ideal drinking temperature is reached, and track caffeine consumption with Apple Health integration. The app works well and the mug itself is comfortable to hold and the heavy base plate is not too distracting in use.

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This weightier than normal mug does, however, lead to you thinking there is tea left in it when in fact it’s empty, not really a criticism, just an amusing observation. Personally, I’d fill it with lovely thick (aaaahhhhh) Bisto Gravy but whatever your tipple try one out for £79.95.

Personally, my hot tipple of choice is a mug of Bisto Gravy, but whatever floats your boat, the @Ember_Tech mug has your back Click To Tweet
Opløft Sit-Stand Platform

Work actively with Opløft – a slim and portable sit-stand platform for a healthier, more dynamic working life.

If you are sick of sitting on your arse all day Tech Trends can recommend this pleasingly small and light Sit-Stand Platform/Desk solution! The excellent Varidesk option is frankly huge and so heavy one person should not really move one alone but this Opløft desk, and yes I will call it a desk instead of a ‘platform’, from Posturite, is a less daunting option and packs super flat.

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“Our most portable sit-stand desk yet is beautifully slim and light without compromising on quality or stability. The secret of Opløft’s strength lies in the unique cross-structure frame, which not only gives the platform a minimalist, classically Scandinavian aesthetic when extended to standing height, but also enables it to fold neatly into its own footprint for convenience. Simply push the handles on either side to float the surface effortlessly to any of the 14 height settings.”

When flat, Opløft is only 30mm thick and weighs just 12 kg – making it possible to carry safely between workstations or neatly store away. It’s taken Oploft many months of reengineering and perfecting to take it from a Kickstarter prototype to what it is today: a thing of beauty.

When flat, Opløft is only 30mm thick and weighs just 12 kg - making it possible to carry safely between workstations or neatly store away Click To Tweet The secret of Opløft’s strength lies in the unique cross-structure frame, which gives the platform a minimalist, classically Scandinavian aesthetic Click To Tweet

You can also add a monitor arm to your Opløft set-up which positions your screen above the surface of the Sit-Stand Platform giving you more space and limitless configuration. Find the perfect height, tilt and angle to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

If you are sick of sitting on your arse all day Tech Trends can recommend this pleasingly small and light Sit-Stand Platform/Desk solution! Click To Tweet
Opløft Sit-Stand Platform
  • 14 height settings give you the freedom to sit or stand up to work
  • Gas lift technology makes height adjustment effortless
  • Cross structure design offers style and stability
  • Slim 30mm profile when flat
  • Easy to carry at 12 kg
  • Sleek, contemporary looks inspired by Scandinavian minimalism
  • Exceptional engineering with high-quality materials and components
  • Encourages physical activity and healthier working behaviours

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Still pricey but a very manageable sit-stand option for those who shun seats, stools and chairs of all kinds. Available here for £299.99.

 

WD Blue™ 3D NAND SATA SSD

For high-end computing applications like gaming, HD media playback, or creative 3D software the affordable new Western Digital Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD might be just what you’re looking for. 3D NAND technology helps enable sequential read speeds up to 560MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 530MB/s for fast system boot-ups, quick application responses, and rapid transfer speeds.

WD's new 3D NAND technology helps enable sequential read speeds up to 560MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 530MB/s for fast system boot-ups, quick application responses, and rapid transfer speeds Click To Tweet Offering improved endurance, a WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD features an active power draw up to 25% lower than previous generations Click To Tweet

A WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD uses 3D NAND technology not only for higher capacities (up to 2TB) than the previous generation WD Blue SSDs, but also to help reduce cell-to-cell interference for enhanced reliability. Offering improved endurance, these new models feature an active power draw up to 25% lower than previous generations. And with less power used, you’re able to work longer before recharging your device.

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An SSD is designed with no moving parts to help protect against data loss if it is accidentally bumped or dropped. And with 1.75M hours MTTF (mean time to failure), up to 500 TBW (terabytes written), and several error correction technologies, WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSDs can help guard your data for years to come.

This model comes in two form factors: A traditional SATA interface or the increasingly common M.2 connection that enables drive size to be drastically reduced. This is popular in modern laptops and also in newer generations PC motherboards, so take your pick.

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As usual, you get access to a few handy little tools with your purchase. Monitor your drive’s available capacity, operating temperatures, SMART attributes and more with the WD SSD Dashboard. Acronis True Image WD Edition software, available as a free download, can clone drives and backup your operating system, applications, settings and all of your data.

Technical Specifications:

Capacity 2TB, 1TB, 500GB, 250GB

Interface SATA 6Gb/s

Form Factor 2.5 Inch 7mm or M.2 2280

Endurance (TBW)
250GB 100
500GB 200
1TB 400
2TB 500

Ready for your high-performance computing needs, a WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD offers high capacity, enhanced reliability, and blazing speed for a nice low price. The 1TB SSD version I tried out is available for $149.99 here.

 

Book Review: The Great Firewall of China

James Griffiths shows how it was possible to build and control an alternative version of the Internet.

This book is a compelling and rather disturbing tale of how something that started out as little more than a glorified porn filter has now become an exportable and sophisticated model of mass censorship; one that is already being actively implemented in places like Russia and Africa. Griffiths has been a tech correspondent in China and SE Asia for almost a decade – first as a reporter in Shanghai, then as an editor at the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong – he currently continues to work in the region as a senior producer for CNN in Hong Kong. Having had a front-row seat to the development of the “Great Firewall,” he felt compelled to write this book in order to highlight the important issues at stake, and how these matter not only inside China but within a global context too. Read the full review here.

James Griffiths Tech Trends Great Firewall of China Internet Censorship Black Mirror

 

Seedlip Grove 42

Seedlip is the world’s first properly distilled non-alcoholic spirit, solving the ever-growing dilemma of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’. Headquartered in London, Seedlip is a company dedicated to changing the way the world drinks by offering sophisticated alternatives to commonly available, overly sweet or fruity options.

“My family’s 300-year farming heritage coupled with a career working on drinks brands laid the foundations to spend two years working with distillers, growers & historians to create adult, complex drinks when, for whatever reason, you’re not drinking alcohol.” Explains Founder Ben Branson

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Blended & bottled in England, Seedlip has created a coveted bespoke maceration, copper pot distillation & filtration process for each individual botanical that takes 6 weeks. Seedlip’s spirits boast zero calories, are sugar-free, sweetener-free & artificial flavour-free, making a Seedlip & Tonic the credible adult alternative to alcohol if not drinking. Such unfortunate circumstances might include, a school night, nominated driver, being up the duff or foolishly choosing to be teetotal. All Seedlip spirits are best served with tonic or as the base for martini or sour style non-alcoholic cocktails.

Blended & bottled in England, @SeedlipDrinks has created a coveted bespoke maceration, copper pot distillation & filtration process for each individual botanical that takes 6 weeks Click To Tweet

These delicious tipples are served in over 6000 prestigious cocktail bars, hotels, restaurants & retailers in over 26x international cities, 250 Michelin * restaurants including The Fat Duck & Eleven Madison Park as well as the world’s top cocktail bars including The Dead Rabbit, Dandelyan, Baxter Inn & The Savoy.

These delicious @SeedlipDrinks are served in over 6000 prestigious cocktail bars, hotels, restaurants & retailers in over 26x international cities Click To Tweet @SeedlipDrinks spirits boast zero calories, are sugar-free, sweetener-free & artificial flavour-free, making a Seedlip & Tonic the credible adult alternative to alcohol if not drinking Click To Tweet

Available in three expressions:
Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented IOT XR health seedlip non-alcoholic spirit grove 42

@SeedlipDrinks does not disappoint and has created a wonderful option for drinking while maintaining a clear head Click To Tweet
  1. Seedlip Spice 94 is aromatic with strong spice (All Spice Berries & Cardamom) & citrus (lemon & grapefruit peel) top notes & a long bitter from the highest quality barks (Oak & Cascarilla).
  2. Seedlip Garden 108 captures the essence of the English countryside with sophisticated top notes of the handpicked peas & hay from the founder’s family farm with a complex herbal base character of spearmint, rosemary & thyme.
  3. Seedlip Grove 42 is a celebration of the Orange; an adult, citrus blend of copper-pot distillates including Bitter Orange, Mandarin, Blood Orange, Lemongrass, Ginger & Lemon.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented IOT XR health seedlip non-alcoholic spirit grove 42

“The response from both the trade & consumers has been overwhelming & we are both proud & humbled to be championed by the world’s food & drink pioneers. Exciting times!” Concluded Branson

Tech Trends tried out the Grove 42 with ice and tonic and was genuinely surprised. Firstly, the spirit is as strong in taste per shot as very strong Gin so you really don’t need a lot in your glass. Secondly, flipping hell it’s lovely! It really is a perfect match for a nice quality tonic water such as Fever Tree and due to the intricate flavours and pungent fragrance, it is as satisfying to sip on a hot day as any traditional alcoholic tipple.

It really is a perfect match for a nice quality tonic water such as Fever Tree and due to the intricate flavours and pungent fragrance @SeedlipDrinks is as satisfying to sip on a hot day as any traditional alcoholic tipple Click To Tweet

You have to try this, I mean it. Seedlip does not disappoint and has created a wonderful option for drinking while maintaining a clear head. Sophisticated is too small a word for this excellent non-alcoholic spirit.

Check out the website here for more info and a bottle of Grove 42 costs £27.99 here.

 

Plugable UD-6950H USB 3.0 Dual 4K Display Horizontal Docking Station

A one-stop upgrade for your Windows laptop or desktop the Plugable UD-6950H USB 3.0 Dual 4K Display Horizontal Docking Station with DisplayPort and HDMI allows you to connect up to two additional monitors and up to eight accessories through a single USB cable. It features two DisplayPort or two HDMI outputs for mirroring/extending your desktop to up to two external monitors, a Gigabit Ethernet port, audio input and output ports, and six USB 3.0 ports.

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The two DisplayPort outputs are Dual-Mode DisplayPort 1.2 (DP++) ports and they are backwards compatible with previous DisplayPort specifications. The two HDMI outputs support HDMI 2.0 specifications and are backwards compatible to previous HDMI standards. The display functions of this device are Windows specific and users might need drivers but take a look for much more info here.

The two HDMI outputs support HDMI 2.0 specifications and are backwards compatible to previous HDMI standards Click To Tweet Windows-specific or not I used all the features (except monitors) perfectly on my MacOS laptops, the Ethernet connection was alone incredibly useful since Apple dropped that post on modern MacBooks Click To Tweet

Features:

  • Supports two DisplayPort or HDMI connected displays at resolutions up to [email protected] per display (3840×[email protected]) or one single [email protected] display using both DisplayPort outputs. Displays and cables must support the desired resolution
  • Equipped with six USB 3.0 ports for peripherals
  • Audio input and output ports allow connection of external speakers, headphones or a microphone. Also supports audio pass through via DisplayPort or HDMI cable to a monitor or TV with built-in speakers
  • Gigabit Ethernet port for hard-wired network connectivity
  • Includes a USB 3.0 Type-C to Type-A cable and a USB 3.0 Type-C to Type-C cable to provide flexible host connectivity
  • Supported on modern Windows systems running Windows 10, 8.1, and 7. Additional compatibility information below

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Windows specific or not I used all the features (except monitors) perfectly on my MacOS laptops, the Ethernet connection was alone incredibly useful since Apple dropped that post on modern MacBooks. However this device is definitly not for everyone and comes with some significant limitations, see below.

System Requirements
For optimal performance the below system specifications are recommended:
Operating System: Windows 10, 8.1, or 7
CPU: Intel SkyLake i3 or Intel Core i7, AMD A10 at 2.0GHz or better
Graphics Processor: Intel HD 4000, AMD Radeon HD 8650, NVidia GeForce 7xxM or better
Memory: 8GB RAM
Host connection: USB 3.0 Type-A or Type-C port

Incompatible Systems
Cannot be mixed with non-DisplayLink USB graphics adapters and drivers (e.g. MCT, j5, or SMSC).
Not supported with macOS, Linux/Unix or ARM based Windows or ChromeOS systems.

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Monitor Compatibility
Supports dual monitors up to [email protected] (3840×[email protected]) each with DisplayPort or HDMI, or a single [email protected] monitor with Dual DisplayPort inputs. DisplayPort equipped monitors and the DisplayPort cable must support DisplayPort 1.2 specification and HDMI equipped monitors and HDMI cables must support HDMI 2.0 specification in order to support [email protected] While backwards compatible with DisplayPort 1.1 and HDMI 1.4 standards, the resolution will be limited to [email protected]
Does not support DisplayPort MST daisy-chain connections or Dual-Link DVI conversions.
Does not support monitors with 1366×768 optimal resolutions.

Application Compatibility
Does not support HDCP copy protected content (Blu-Ray, Netflix, Amazon Prime video, etc.)
Suggested for web/productivity software; not recommended for gaming.

Gaming
We don’t recommend running games on USB attached displays as there are significant compatibility challenges. And even without specific compatibility problems, performance will always be a challenge – the extra CPU work required for USB graphics will be a source of reduced frame rates and problems. Normal desktop and application use are typically fine because they don’t push the system as hard as 3D games do.

If the Plugable UD-6950H suits your needs I can recommend it so pick one up here for £149.95.

 

Naked Nutrition Protein Powders & Supplements

We have been looking at wellness products here at Tech Trends and seeing innovation everywhere in this booming market. In September we tried out Soylent Meal Replacements and this month it’s the turn of Naked Nutrition. From Grass-Fed Whey Protein to Pea Protein Powder to Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder, Naked Nutrition provides the “purest supplements”. They claim their powders are loaded with essential amino acids and no artificial sweeteners or colours and commit to offering the best protein powders and supplements including Powdered Peanut Butter, Casein Protein, Creatine Monohydrate and many more.

We are looking at health and wellness products here at Tech Trends and are seeing innovation everywhere in this booming market Click To Tweet

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We tested out their Collagen Peptides Powder, the Powdered Peanut Butter and the mindboggling Branched Chain Amino Acids, WTF? Well, this last one claims “the highest pharmaceutical grade, fastest dissolving, and rapidly absorbed Branch Chain Amino Acids available”. OK, so that does what? Naken Nutrition says studies have shown that BCAA supplementation improves strength and muscle development, speeds recovery, and increases endurance for men and women at all fitness levels. I am afraid all I can say is that it tasted OK but as a slothful couch potato I can’t speak to its powers of recovery or muscle boosting powers. I might be the wrong person to review these…? Anyway the Powdered Peanut Butter next!

Naked PB is a vegan peanut butter protein powder made exclusively from peanuts grown on US farms. Our powdered peanut butter is made from slow-roasted, non-GMO peanuts that are mechanically pressed to remove fat and oil. The result is a peanut butter powder that is over 40% protein. Gain the nutritional benefits of powdered peanut butter and enjoy its flavor by using it in recipes from cakes and muffins to smoothies. Naked Nutrition is committed to shortening the steps between our farms and you.

Studies have shown that BCAA supplementation improves strength and muscle development, speeds recovery, and increases endurance for men and women at all fitness levels Click To Tweet

If you love peanuts and crave protein then this is for you, but not me. Now, this next one I can relate to. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and a major component of connective tissues in tendons, ligaments and having a long-term knee injury I can recommend others with joint problems regularly consume collagen and this supplement is as good a way as any to do that.

Consuming collagen provides health benefits including joint health, youthful skin, healthy hair, protecting cartilage and bones, and workout recovery. Our hydrolyzed collagen powder is sourced from European cows that are pasture raised. Highly soluble and tasteless, use our grass fed collagen peptide powder in hot beverages such as your morning coffee, cold sports drinks, tea before sleep or as an unflavored protein base in pre and post-workout smoothies.

I have taken Glucosamine for a few years and this should provide similar benefits without struggling to swallow those enormous horse pills Click To Tweet

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Now, this tub will stay on my counter and I’ll keep myself topped up to ease pain and stiffness in my knee. I have taken Glucosamine for a few years and this should provide similar benefits without struggling to swallow the enormous horse pills I used to take. Check out Naked Nutrition here and sample some of their range of 21st-century health supplements.

 

Oculus Go Facial Interface & Foam Replacement Set

Take your Oculus Go experiences to the next level with our custom interface and foam replacement set. This nifty new interface from VR Cover allows you to attach and remove foam replacements with ease, making it possible to customize the fit to suit your face. Having a funny shaped face I found this not only made the HMD comfier but blocked out more light.

This nifty new interface from VR Cover allows you to attach and remove foam replacements with ease, making it possible to customize the fit to suit your face Click To Tweet

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The Oculus Go is known for being one of the most comfortable headsets on the market but it never hurts to make the comfy even cushier. VR Cover take this to the next level by using foam replacements with an extra large surface area – this has the effect of reducing pressure on your face and red marks around your eyes. Oh, and they use vegan leather so no small furry animals were inconvenienced in their making 😉

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Less Red panda face has to be a winner so check these out for $29.00 here.

 

SanDisk Extreme Portable 1TB SSD

We all need more storage these days and a few of us need really fast storage for large media files or thousands of RAW photographs. We also need that storage to be portable and convenient to use and there are some very expensive solutions out there… but this new 1TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is a remarkable bit of kit and very competitively priced.

This 1TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is a remarkable bit of kit and very competitively priced Click To Tweet

Speed up the flow. Move files faster. The rugged SanDisk® Extreme Portable SSD delivers high-speed transfers with up to 550MB/s read speeds. This makes it perfect for saving and editing hi-res photos and videos. With an IP55 rating, it also stands up to rain, splashes, spills and dust.1

This tiny little drive boasts incredibly fast read speeds. With high-performance transfers at up to 550MB/s the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD lets you offload files in a snap. Capacities range from 250GB up to 2TB and it plays well with Windows or Mac via USB-C or USB-A.

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With high-performance transfers at up to 550MB/s the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD lets you offload files in a snap Click To Tweet

Designed to work with both Windows and Mac, the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is equipped with a USB 3.1 Type-C connector and also includes a USB Type-C to Type-C cable and a Type-C to Type-A adapter, meaning it will work with the PCs and Macs of today, tomorrow and yesterday.

  • Dimensions 8.850 x 49.550 x 96.200 mm
  • Weight 38.9g
  • IP55 for water and dust resistance
  • Interface USB 3.1 (Gen 2)
  • Shock-resistant (up to 1500G) and vibration resistant (5g RMS, 10-2000HZ)
  • Compatible with PC & Mac computers – no driver needed
  • Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows® 7, Windows Vista and Mac OS 10.4+

 

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality IOT XR health Opløft sit-stand ember western digital sandisk WD

This drive is the definition of awesome compact, pocket-sized design. Smaller than a smartphone it really is easy to pop on a keychain and tuck in a decent-sized pocket Click To Tweet

Good things do come in small sizes! This drive is the definition of awesome compact, pocket-sized design. Smaller than a smartphone it really is easy to pop on a keychain and tuck in a decent-sized pocket. The very small but effective cable and attached adapter SanDisk provides will cover all your needs and save you a few quid too.

The 1TB drive I tested out is now discounted and available for only $187.99 here so grab one now