Saturday, December 9, 2017

Propel Dart 1.0 drone small in size, large in flying performance

Propel Dart 1.0 drone is small in size and arge in drone performance

Propel Dart 1.0 drone is perfect for beginners

My first drone, the Propel Dart 1.0, found its way into the shopping cart because it was on sale. I never thought I would want a Drone or even like flying a Drone, or let's say “trying to fly” a drone.

The Propel Dart 1.0, my first drone, is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, plus four rotor blades. The technical specs say it’s a 2.4 GHz indoor/outdoor high-performance flying machine with a 200-foot operational range, supported by a 2.4G radio remote controller. Just like its larger cousins, such as a Boeing 747, it has LED directional white lights the front and red on the back.

The Propel company has been in the drone business in the United States since 2006 and recently launched a line of Disney “Star Wars battle drones” with reverse propulsion, flight simulation, an iOS app and gaming for up to 12 players.

For the Dart, I choose the bright red color off the shelves, as I thought it would be easier to see or find in the bushes or a field if my flight pattern went haywire. Or could easily be spotted in the top of a tree, for which I hear stories of this being the final resting place for a lot of spanking-brand-new drones. It also comes in silver and blue.

Propel drone includes spare rotor blades, removable controller grips

In the box, protected by industrial-strength plastic packing, I found the Dart 1.0, a Wireless Controller, a USB charging cord, some spare parts and an intimidating instruction booklet for such a small device. Later on, I would appreciate having the spare rotor blades.

Once out of the box, make sure the Dart is charged and ready for action. The drone unit uses a USB connector that “must” be plugged into a computer, which I find odd since it’s not actually syncing to the computer. A red LED light on the USB plug will indicate charging is complete, which could range from 30 to 45 minutes for five to seven minutes of flying time. The controller requires two AAA batteries.

The controller, or remote, is feature laden for such a small device, with controls for adjusting forward and backward trim, as well as banking and the yaw. With the proper adjustments, the Dart is supposed to hover steadily in mid-air with no drifting left or right, forward or backward. There is also a six-axis gyro tucked away inside the device to assist with level hovering and flight.

Dart 1.0 start/land buttons help drone with smooth takeoff and landings

For beginner drone pilots, like myself, I also appreciated a dedicated Start and Landing button to safely get off the ground and back down again without any mishaps. The Dart has four modes - Training, Slow, Medium and High. I’ll be in (T) Training mode for a while, which allows you to learn to fly at a slow speed. After familiarizing myself with the controls, it’s time to fly.

This drone has a three-channel mode for beginners and a four-channel mode for advanced flying. It’s helpful to know the default setting for the Dart is in four-channel mode and you might consider stepping down a notch to novice before taking off.

You’ll need to sync the Dart and Controller before taking off into the wild blue yonder. Just place the drone on a flat surface and activate the throttle lever. The LED lights should turn on, clearing you for takeoff.

Of course, the directions say you should be in a wide open space, with at least a 200-foot radius. I’ll have to settle for my driveway.

Propel Dart 1.0 drone controller has automatic start and landing buttons
Thanks to the automatic take-off button, I’m off the pavement and in the air in a breeze. With a careful press of the direction lever, I move toward a chain link fence in a controlled manner. Then back to the airport, or my take-off spot on the driveway, followed by pressing the automatic landing button, and the Dart landing softly with everything intact. The rotors automatically shut off after landing. After you build your flying skills and confidence, you can exit training mode, manually start the rotor blades to spinning and lift off using the throttle lever. The challenge in manual mode will be to return at some point and land safely.

Propel Dart programmed for automatic stunt rolls

The Dart is capable of doing 360-degree aerial rolls, with a dedicated Stunt Roll Button waiting to be pressed once you feel like an expert. It’ll require some quick maneuvering of the control stick to accomplish these tricks.

Although the Dart is considered a toy and can be purchased for around $40, it has remarkable engineering and still falls under the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) compliance rules Part 15 for a Class B digital device. If the weight was above 0.55 pounds, it would need to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for small unmanned aircraft.

I’m looking forward to purchasing a larger drone at some point with the integrated camera and more features. Or maybe I’ll put a couple of mid-range devices in the Amazon basket to hone my piloting skills a little more before going all out with a DJI, GoPro, UDI, Hubsan, or Yuneec. At some point, I hope to be ready for a Cadillac of drones.

At any rate, I didn’t know I would like a drone, but now I need another one. I’m hooked.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Laptop Lift 90 helps to get organized, maximize desk space

The laptop lift 90 organizer is a combination riser and space-saver when used as a stand for storage and to maximize desk space

Laptop Lift 90 optimizes workspace

The Laptop Lift 90 is a combination riser and space-saver while also improving laptop function and the overall look of your workspace.

This laptop organizer, introduced by newPCgadgets, a company with a mission to design unique computer products and accessories for Apple and PC computers, has claims of offering the only laptop accessory in the market with these uniques features.

When using the Laptop 90 as a riser, it raises the laptop about one inch for increased ventilation, while holding it upright when used as a stand for storage and to maximize desk space.

Vibrant colors of Laptop Lift 90 improves look of desk

According to their president Michael Schriner, "With our new Laptop Lift 90° we have created a new way to organize the desktop, improve laptop function and save space. We have also enhanced the look of the workspace by offering vibrant colors that really stand out."

Laptop Lift 90 designed for popular computers

The Laptop Lift 90° is designed for both home and office and is constructed of glossy acrylic, with non-slip neoprene pads. It is designed to hold popular laptops, such as the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Surface Book, Dell Latitude, Lenovo, HP Pavilion and other brands.

If you’re shopping for Christmas, the Laptop Lift 90 comes in pink, blue, white and black, and is available for around a special introductory price of around $20 on the company’s website.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Answer the door anywhere with the NuTone Knock video doorbell

A door chime company that has been around at least 80 years still has the magic in home comfort and convenience as they announce the Nutone Knock, which is their new video doorbell.

The NuTone Knock, made by Broan, LLC, and NuTone, allows homeowners to see and speak to visitors in high resolution from anywhere on a smartphone or tablet. Using motion sensors, night vision and alarm functions, the device fosters peace of mind in knowing your home is safe and secure.

"Homeowners have been asking for a multi-function doorbell system that combines the best intercom technology with security," said Jessica Lindquist, Global Category Director, Home Comfort & Convenience, for NuTone.

According to the company, the NuTone Knock is easy to install and has exceptional Wi-Fi reception along with built-in voltage detection to tap into your existing doorbell wiring. The weather resistant features allows it to withstand dust, water, and temperatures between minus 22 degrees to 122 degrees.

Some of the other features include:

• Two-way audio and HD video from your door to any smart phone or tablet around the world, or from the safety of your own home
• Night vision camera allows you to see who is at your door in crystal clear high definition in any low light condition
• Quiet hours option silences the door chime during nap time, family time or movie night
• 180-degree high definition camera lens

The NuTone Knock is available at, or from a local retailer in your area.

The Ring Video Doorbell is another popular option and also offers video, two-way audio and motion sensors, which allows you to see and speak to visitors from anywhere on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. In addition to being able to be hardwired, the Ring also comes with a rechargeable battery pack. The Ring is available now for $199.

With these remote home monitoring device, you’ll always know when someone is at the door.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

UAG expands rugged cases line to Microsoft Surface laptop

For adventure seekers, Urban Armor Gear has introduced a new rugged case for the Microsoft Surface laptop that is built to military drop-test standards.

Widely known as the maker of various rugged cases for the latest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices, UAG strives to offer protection for thrill-seekers out on the trails with their mobile gear.

"Laptops hold so much valuable information, and we are delighted to introduce a case that is designed to offer ultimate protection for Microsoft Surface devices," said Michael McVerry, Senior Marketing Manager at UAG.


UAG Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Feather-Light Composite [BLACK] Aluminum
Stand Military Drop Tested Case

Their latest case for the Surface laptop will cost around $80 for a dual-lock screen closure, tactile grips, and of course, a Surface Pen Holder. Your color choice is limited to Ice, which seems to be a popular choice for their cases for other devices.

I recently reviewed the case for the iPhone 7 and found it to be well constructed and lightweight. My iPhone was well protected and I would also consider a UAG case for the Surface laptop if one appears under the Christmas Tree.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Vizio brings Amazon Video, more apps to SmartCast TV platform

Find the TV remote, because Vizio Inc. is hoping to grab your attention with Amazon Video on their SmartCast TV platform.

With just a few taps of the remote, SmartCast TV users can access content from Amazon Video, along with other favorite apps such as Crackle, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Netflix, Pluto TV, Vudu and XUMO1 on the big screen.

The new features are available now to all 2017 VIZIO SmartCast P-Series and M-Series Ultra HD Displays, with plans to add additional series such as 2017 VIZIO SmartCast E-Series Ultra HD Displays later this summer.

Amazon Video allows consumers to buy or rent thousands of movies, while also granting unlimited access to thousands of titles, such as the Amazon Original Series and Movies such as Transparent, The Grand Tour and Manchester by the Sea and kids series Tumble Leaf. For new Prime customers, there is free 30-day trial to try out Prime Video.

"With the recent launch of SmartCast TV, one of the things we're most excited about is providing consumers with added entertainment options," said Matt McRae, Chief Technology Officer, VIZIO. "Amazon Video brings an array of content options to the screen, all accessible on the traditional remote via the Amazon Video button. We're glad to continue to bring in-demand content and solutions to our customers."

The addition of Amazon Video to VIZIO SmartCast TV gives consumers access to even more content options with features including select 4K Ultra HD titles on compatible displays featuring VIZIO SmartCast TV. Because the app is accessible directly from the display, Amazon Prime members can now easily access movies and TV episodes without the need for a separate streaming device.

To get started, you'll need the new 2017 remote featuring the V-button, which has a one-button access to the VIZIO SmartCast TV user interface, along with shortcut keys to top apps, including Amazon Video.

If you already have an eligible Vizo model TV and meet certain conditions, you can receive the new SmartCast remote free or for a nominal fee.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Using cloud-based software to improve teamwork in the workplace

By Toni Tantlinger | News and Experts

Most businesses recognize that employee collaboration is a must for a productive and efficient workplace.

But many companies aren’t set up properly to take the greatest advantage of one of their best tools for promoting that collaboration – technology, says Mayur Ramgir, founder and CEO of Zonopact Inc.,, creator of the Clintra cloud-based software platform that allows businesses to store and access all their data in one location.

“What I’ve found is businesses often have their data segmented,” Ramgir says.

“One department has client information stored in a particular location, but other departments either don’t have access to it or can’t easily find it. That deters rather than promotes collaboration.”

While there can be reasons to limit access to some data, business leaders need to understand that they are missing out on effective ways to let technology encourage teamwork in the workplace.

“Employees become frustrated if there’s a file they need, but they have to spend too much time searching through a disorganized system to locate it,” Ramgir says.

When used the right way, though, technology helps strengthen existing communication channels and identify new collaboration opportunities, he says.

“Some companies do get it,” Ramgir says. “For example, when we were developing Clintra, we kept hearing from businesses about their need for an integrated system to manage projects, sales, clients and prospects more efficiently. So sometimes business leaders know what they want from technology; they just aren’t always sure how to get there.”

He says there numerous ways technology can help businesses improve teamwork among employees. A few additional ideas are:

Email and videoconferencing. These are a couple of the most basic ways technology can be used. They are especially helpful when employees who need to work together are scattered at remote locations. Sometimes people criticize the use of email when a face-to-face conversation would be just as easy – and email is overused at times. But it’s also an efficient way to quickly share important information with several co-workers at the same time without calling everyone away from their desks. Videoconferencing, such as Skype, is especially helpful when there is visual information that needs to be shared, such as demonstration of a new product.

Centralized work groups. Even email and Skype have limitations, especially when different departments within a business are involved, Ramgir says. Developing centralized groups to make sharing client information easier can greatly improve both communication and collaboration, Ramgir says. With the right technology, teams can brainstorm, share ideas, create and manage projects, and divide tasks and activities.

Online training courses. Teamwork requires that everyone understands their role and the goals of the company, which means employee training is essential. But handing employees an imposingly large training manual may not be the best way to accomplish that goal. They may not read it. Even if they do, they may not retain much of what they read. More effective, Ramgir says, is to make use of online training courses that are interactive, requiring that the employees be engaged. A quiz at the end can help ensure employees learned the key lessons.

“When you use technology to improve teamwork,” Ramgir says, “you’re very likely to see a boost in productivity, performance and profitability.”

About Mayur Ramgir

Mayur Ramgir ( is founder and CEO of Zonopact Inc., creator of the Clintra cloud-based software platform. He has more than 14 years experience in software engineering and holds a Computational Science and Engineering degree from Georgia Tech. He also is author of “Unbarred Innovation: A Pathway to Greatest Discoveries.”

Article courtesy of News and Experts, a division of EMSI

Sunday, November 20, 2016

UAG case offers ultimate impact resistant protection for iPhone 7

As soon as the iPhone 7 was available, the case manufacturers were out of the gate with their offerings for protection against slippery hands and other mishaps.

I have been testing an impressive case from Urban Armor Gear that offers the utmost protection from impact and shock, such as accidental drops and all an around rough and tumble lifestyle. This feather-light case from UAG's Monarch Series is built to military specifications and should handle any mishaps from urban warriors.

Coming out of the packaging, you'll notice how light the case is at around 1.4 ounces and how sturdy the design feels in your hands. There are no less than four textured rubber grips in strategic locations around the edge of the case to help guard against slipping from your hands. On the back side, you'll find more innovative design touches in the polycarbonate shear textured material, an embossed UAG logo and other alloy metal design elements to help you maintain a good grip, as well as maximum protection from impact. A rubber lip around front of the case will raise your smartphone slightly off the surface when placed face down. In the area of protection, UAG seems to have hit all the bases.

The case fits tightly around the phone and the cutouts are precise for the speaker, Lightning connector and mute switch. Upon close examination, you'll see no visible gaps for dust particles to get inside case, which is a problem I've had with other lesser-quality cases. The rocker switch for the volume and the on/off button are also covered with a textured rubber material and function just as well as the original controls without a case.

According to UAG, special attention was given to the cutout around the camera lens and flash to eliminate glare. The overall attention to detail in this case is remarkable and worth consideration.

If you're shopping for the ultimate protection for your iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, or 6 to 6s Plus, around $60 would be a good investment for the UAG protective case with a 10-year warranty. They are available in Graphite and Platinum for the iPhone 7 series.

With the UAG Monarch Series cases, you'll get military-grade protection and a stylish appearance.