Menu

Hardware

  • When one gadget is "in", it is almost certain that another gadget is on its way "out."  The lifespan of most modern day technologies is rather short.  We're only just now getting used to the new iPhone 5, and an iPhone 6 is right around the corner!

    This being said, there are some gadgets that you simply should put away in a drawer (or donate to a electronic recycling facility).  Here are the top 10 gadgets to avoid in 2014 (inspired by Business Insider).

    1. DVD Players

    DVDs are anticipated to reach the same demise as CDs and VHS tapes have before them.  In the age of digital technology like television On Demand, DVR, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go, iTunes, and Amazon Prime -- DVD players are becoming obsolete.

    Don't forget - you can hook up your laptop to your TV if you're really needing a DVD player. Or, if you happen to own a gaming system that reads DVDs as well, you're all set.

    2. Bluetooth headsets

  • 10 Mac Features You Didn't Know ExistedNo matter how long you've been using your Mac, we're guessing you probably don't know all the cool features it has to offer. Check out this list of tips and tricks Business Insider put together to take advantage of some useful parts of your Mac you didn't know existed.

    1. Take a trimmed screenshot.

    You may know how to take a screenshot of your entire screen (Command+Shift+3). But did you know you can take a screenshot of a specific area?

    Hold down Command + Shift + 4. This will turn your cursor into a crosshare. Click and drag what you would like to capture, hit the spacebar, and you've got yourself a nice cropped screenshot.

    2. Hide your dock instantly.

    If your dock is getting in the way while you're working, hold Command + Option + D and it will tuck your dock away instantly. If you want to bring it back, repeat the process.

    3. Invert your screen colors.

    If you're running Mac OSX Lion (or an earlier version), invert/revert your screen colors with Command + Option + Control + 8. This is an option that is designed to help those who are visually impaired.

    4. Instant tab management.

  • Apple TV Gets a Makeover (Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

    A major Apple upgrade is afoot for their seemingly forgotten set-top box. Yes, we can expect a new Apple TV announcement at the Worldwide Developer Conference in June, as Engadget recently reported.

    Rumored Features for Updated Apple TV

  • Image from Samsung.com - Are Hardware Keyboards Making a Comeback on Mobile?

    In 2006, the number one song was Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day,” Pirates of Caribbean IIwas the number one movie, and the mobile QWERTY hardware keyboard, made famous by BlackBerry, was the reigning tech must-have.

    Obviously, things have changed over the past nine years.

    Samsung users, however, have the opportunity to turn back time.

    A new QWERTY keyboard and cover combo produced by the Korean company slides right onto the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ with the idea that it will attract a generation of hardware keyboard devotees.

  • Samsung is working on its next generation Galaxy phone, the S5, set to release a few months down the road.  The new phone has been teased a bit to generate a bit of excitement.  

    Here is what we can speculate about the Samsung Galaxy S5:

    It will be called the Galaxy S5

    ...according to Samsung's executive vice president Lee Young Hee in an interview, anyway.

    It is coming out by April 2014

    Hee indicated that the phone would launch before April of 2014.  According to Business Insider, it is likely that Samsung will wait until the Mobile World Congress event in late February before making the announcement.

    There is talk of an eye scanner

    Samsung has been experimenting with an iris scanner, and it is likely that it will appear in the Galaxy S5.  It is similar to fingerprint scanners we've seen on previous smartphones, as it also overrides the need for a passcode.

    Two potential body styles: plastic and metal

    Similar to the Apple 5C and 5S differentiations, Samsung may also opt to release a cheaper model of their phone made with plastic, and a more expensive one using metal.

  • FreedomPop is the company with intriguing promises.  They are a "freemium" service provider that provides free cell phone service, whichwe've previously written about, and free internet hotspot plans once you buy the device.

    FreedomPop recently provided us with the hardware to test out their wireless service to see if FreedomPop's offering is worth trying out.  Here's what we've discovered:

    When coverage is great, its great; When it isn't, it doesn't work at all

    We tested the FreedomPop Photon Platinum hotspot. in a variety of areas.  Most of the time, we loved what we saw.  Good connectivity and quick responsiveness helped us get work done, even when the internet connection at some coffee shops (cough Starbucks) was less than desirable.

    However, there were times when we flat out did not get ANY signal from our device, and when this happened, we couldn't even call the service slow - it was completely non-existent.

    We believe this had to do with FreedomPop's hotspot device using Clear's 4G WiMAX network, partly owned by, and entirely leveraged by Sprint for their non-LTE 4g network.  Lets take a look at the coverage map, taken from Clear's website:

    The green area's indicate coverage, while the splotchy areas indicate no coverage.  Not surprisingly, when we tried to use the hotspot in some of these areas, we didn't get any coverage.

    We took a fair and balanced look at the FreedomPop Photon and related service. Clicking the banner image will take you to FreedomPop's site for an opportunity to purchase the service for yourself. Some transactions may result in Geek | Chicago receiving nominal promotional consideration.

  • FreedomPop and iPhoneWe've already talked about our positive experience with freemium cell and wireless hotspot provider, FreedomPop.  Now we're pleased to find FreedomPop has expanded their service to include the iPhone under it's free service plan.  

    Their basic iPhone plan includes 500 text messages and 500MBs of data a month, completely free.  Bucket plans expand from these bare beginnings of coverage at as little as $5/month.

    Additionally, FreedomPop offers a refurbished iPhone 5 for $349, and old off-contract Sprint iPhones (4, 4S, and 5) to its community.

    There's an app too?

  • Gadget of the Week - 'Star Wars' Gadget Roundup (Source: Amazon.com and ThinkGeek.com)

    Have you seen the trailers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? If not, go do that right now, and then come back. We'll be waiting. 

    Ahhh, right? Amazing! Vader?! Droids! The Death Star!

    Sorry, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We just really, really love Star Wars around the Geek Chicago offices. We’ve got a BB-8 rolling around more often than not, and we even think about what the legendary movies still have to teach us about digital marketing. And the obsession doesn’t stop at the office.

    Case in point, we recently lost our minds over some of the amazingly cool (and a little bit kitschy) Star Wars gadgets listed over in this great roundup at HiConsumption.

  • Gadget of the Week - Amazon Echo Show (Source: amazon.com))

    If you’ve ever taken a screenwriting class, then you know that one of the key pieces of advice is to always “show,” rather than “tell.” Well, apparently the creative gurus at Amazon have been dropping in on a seminar or two, because their newest version of the Echo promises to let users show and tell – thanks to a major design move that could completely revolutionize the digital assistant marketplace.

    The Amazon Echo Show was unveiled in early May and is set to start shipping on June 28. And you’ve got to see it to believe it… Mostly because, unlike with previous iterations of the Echo, there really is something to see here. Instead of a portable little cylinder, the Show is a wide, square tablet, boasting an enormous, seven-inch touchscreen display on the upper half of the unit.

    The addition of that screen offers up a ton of new functions that were previously unavailable using Echo devices; users can now use Amazon’s personal helper, Alexa, to watch videos on YouTube or Amazon Video; to see their playlists on Spotify; to pull up and display pictures from an online library; to quickly and easily control or monitor their smart home appliances; or to get a visual weather report or news story in an instant.

  • Gadget of the Week - ASUS ZenBook 3 (Source: cnet.com) 

    Could the ASUS ZenBook 3 be a giant slayer? Well, a super-thin giant slayer, that is.

    The tech world is buzzing about the latest “ultraportable” from ASUS, which some, like Engadget, are calling “thinner, lighter, and faster than the MacBook.”

    Announced recently at Computex 2016, the new ZenBook measures in at just two pounds and less than a half-inch thick – a major step up from the previous model, the ZenBook UX305 (2.64 pounds, 0.51 inches), and a hair better than the already super-sleek MacBook (2.03 pounds, 0.52 inches).

  • Gadget of the Week - AUKEY Jump Starter (Source: amazon.com)

    Remember when you first started driving? What were the things your parents or driving instructors always said? Hands at ten and two, always adjust your mirrors, be sure to buckle up, and always have emergency supplies on hand.

    Fortunately, that last point is easier than ever today, thanks to innovations like the AUKEY Jump Starter.

    Jumper cables can be huge, unwieldy, and intimidating – but not having them on hand to care for your car battery can lead to some tricky situations.

  • Gadget of the Week - Automatic Car Adapter

    While for some the daily commute down the highway is a much-needed break from technology, for others – the Geeks among us, if you will – the car is just another site ripe for nerdy innovation, begging for us to plug in and play around.

    Enter the Automatic Adapter, an all-in-one gadget and app bundle that seamlessly syncs your car up to the rest of your digital life.

    Using the Adapter – which plugs into the standard diagnostic port available in most vehicles made since 1996 – and the free Automatic app, you can easily connect your car to your smartphone, tablet, or Apple Watch via Bluetooth.

  • Back-to-school-tech-roundup

    It seems like the “back to school” shopping season starts earlier and earlier every summer. This year, we saw ads encouraging families to get ready for school as early as July.

    And while that rush to get started might seem like a bit much, it starts to make sense around this time of the season, when those of us who didn’t get a jump scramble to get our kids and ourselves properly equipped for a new school year.  

  • Gadget of the Week - Bedphones (Source: Bedphones.com)

    For many of us, going to sleep isn’t actually the most relaxing or stress-free time of day; instead, it’s the time when our brains refuse to turn off, when we think about the future or replay the events of the past few hours over and over again.

    To quiet a rushing mind, many turn to music, podcasts, or white noise – much to the annoyance of our partners. And while headphones may be a quick fix, standard earbuds or headsets can be bulky or uncomfortable, come loose over several hours, or even get stuck in your ears in the middle of the night.

    How can you get the sound quality you want while staying comfortable? Enter Bedphones.

  • Gadget of the Week - Best Truly Wireless Earbuds

    Maybe you thought your regular wired earbuds were just fine, or maybe you were good and ready to cut free from the wires. Whatever your thoughts on headphones, the reality is that we’re moving toward a time when wireless is the watchword for in-ear and over-ear headphones alike.

    Certainly, it’s easy to see the appeal of wireless earbuds: There’s not a chance that they’ll ever get tangled or twisted, and they make it easier to exercise without fear of being constrained by the limits of your cords. They come with some obvious drawbacks, too: It’s easy to picture losing a single wireless earbud, for instance, or running into an unexpected issue with connectivity.

    Perhaps this is why it is only recently that developers have started to really lean into the idea of truly wireless earbuds, or sets with absolutely no wires connecting the buds to each other, to a charger, or to your audio device.

  • Gadget of the Week - Bobine (Source: FuseChicken)

    What if you need to keep your iPhone handy to reference a recipe, but you don’t have a spare hand to keep picking it up and putting it down, all the while making sure it remains plugged in?

    Or have you ever wanted a convenient tripod to keep your iPhone stable – and juiced up – for a marathon Facetime session?

    How can you make sure your phone stays in the perfect position to hit “snooze” in the morning and stay charged all night?

    For all of those cases and more, BOBINE is here to help.

  • Cardboard Smartphone Projector

    We all have that friend who insists that he show you the latest video, the one who passes around her phone so everyone at the party can get to see that too-cute picture of her puppy.

    Sharing images on phones has long been an inconvenience. Well, now there’s a cheap, inventive way to make huddling around a tiny smartphone screen a thing of the past.


  • Sometimes we could all use a little help for those unexpected interruptions we face while driving. The Cobra Dash Cam 2208 is an exciting gadget, one that even the most experienced drivers will find useful in those unexpected moments.

    The cam is meant to keep you safe from surprise obstacles on the road, and to act as a form of protection from “accidents, insurance fraud, distracted drivers, and road rage,” according to theirwebsite.

    The camera itself has amax video resolution of 1296P which is sure to capture crystal clear videos of the road in front of you. You’ll be able to watch the footage on the cam’s two-inch screen while you drive, or review the footage after you’re done. According toNBCNews, even in the event of a crash, the dashcam is programmed to not allow the footage to be overwritten.

  • From barbecue to burgers to booze, everything tastes better with a little bit of smoke.

    But for years, the delicious, smoky flavor available in drinks at speakeasies and other serious watering holes was all-but impossible to attain in your own home kitchen.

    Enter The Smoking Box, part of the Crafthouse collection by Fortessa. This visually stunning piece of equipment promises to let everyone add rich, smoky depth to their favorite cocktails – no mixology certification required!

  • Gadget of the Week - Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat (Source: ecobee.com)

    Everybody wants their home to be smarter, more efficient, and greener, but not everyone can afford to make those dreams a reality. For the cash-strapped Geek, there’s one option that offers exceptional features and a gorgeous design for an unparalleled price: The Ecobee3 Lite smart thermostat.

    A powerful “smart” thermostat for the more entry level geek, the Ecobee3 Lite is designed to integrate seamlessly into your home. It’s a hard-wired system, meaning that it’s compatible with most heating and cooling systems and won’t ever leave you scrambling to find a battery or replacement.

    Even better, the Ecobee3 Lite offers more smart home partnerships for the price than any other thermostat, according to CNet; your Ecobee3 Lite easily syncs up with the Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, and Amazon Echo technologies.

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).