Category: Tech

The Rode VideoMicro Compact Microphone Will Significantly Improve Your Travel Video Audio

More and more of you are adding travel videos to your trip collections as phones of the past 2 years have made major jumps in video quality. As cameras and mobiles get better at taking video, they still suck at audio. The small microphones in cameras (and particularly phones) are designed to pick up sound from sources that are especially close up, without much protection from ambient noise. (Try having a call outside, the slightest breeze can ruin a conversation.) For video with any kind of intelligible speaking in it, a microphone can go a long way.

rode videomicroRode VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Microphone

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The Rode VideoMicro is a compact, durable microphone under $60 that dramatically improves audio in any video. It’s compatible with cameras and phones (that still have a headphone jack). You can watch my full review of the Rode VideoMicro in the video above.

JOBY GorillaPod Focus Is A Strong, Portable Tripod Capable Of Supporting Your Heavy Camera

Making a tripod small enough to be portable but strong enough to effectively hold a DSLR or mirrorless camera with lens isn’t an easy engineering feat, particularly when the tripod legs are designed to bend. The GorillaPod series is innovative but their cost often causes people to buy a JOBY model that won’t support the camera they’ve got.

joby gorillapod focusJOBY GorillaPod 5K Kit

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A tripod that drops your camera will hit your wallet much harder than gravity; therefore the GorillaPod Focus is worth taking a close look at. You can see my full review of the GorillaPod Focus after a year of heavy use, in the video above.

The Cocoon Grid-It Is Cable Management For Your Backpack

Traveling with a lot of electronics means traveling with a lot of cables. Charging cords are especially difficult to manage inside a backpack and the Cocoon Grid-It is one of the few organizers that’s portable enough to be useful for travelers. The Grid-It isn’t for every backpack but for those it works for, can make frequent trips though airport security much simpler.

You can watch my full review of the Cocoon Grid-It in the video above or read on.

Grid-It Basics

The Grid-It comes in several sizes, though I found the most effective one to be the 10.5 x 7.5 inch (26.6 x 19 cm) version. That’s because the smaller the Grid-It is horizontally, the more space it takes up vertically. More on that in a bit, but first, how the Cocoon Grid-It works.

cocoon grid it

Basically the Grid-It is a flat panel with 12 elastic strips across, 6 down on one side, and two on the back. The most effective way to use the Grid-It is to coil a cable and place it under one of the bands. Longer or thicker cables should go under the longest bands and it’s important to spread out the cables as much as possible. Otherwise, you’ll only accentuate the Grid-Its main drawback.

Advantages

Once you’ve got your cables all under the gentle, but firm grip of the Grid-It, taking all of your cords in and out of your backpack is a breeze. Being able to take all of your cables out at once, organized, makes going through airport security much, much faster than pulling out of a clump of cords. Plus you won’t have to worry about losing everything else that tends to get tangled up in cord clumps as you yank it out of your bag.

cocoon grid itCocoon Grid-It CPG8BK 10.5 x 7.5-Inch Organizer (Black)

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It’s also worth noting it makes the job of airport security easier too and the clear view of all your cables seems to put you on their good side. Always a good thing for a frequent traveler who wants to get to the lounge or gate as quickly as possible.

Organization Costs Space

I mentioned above, the Grid-It has one major drawback: the amount of usable space it takes up inside a backpack. Although it’s excellent at organizing cables, it takes up a lot of usable backpack space to do so. The more cables you have, the larger its horizontal profile – creating a bump that can be awkward to fit inside of a tight backpack. Coiled cables also have a lot of space in them which isn’t practical to fill up.

cocoon grid-it

Sure, you can stuff as much of your other gear inside the cable coils as possible, but chances are the Grid-It is going to occupy a lot of empty space. For travelers whose backpacks are less than 80% full, the Grid-It can provide much needed cable organization. If your backpack is in need of a diet, already stuffed, the Grid-It is probably going to take up too much additional space to be useful.

Clumps of cables are ugly but more easily smashed compressed inside of a bag. Chances are if you don’t have space for a Grid-It, you need to start with some basic backpack organization first.

How Much Quieter Is The DJI Mavic Pro With Low Noise Propellers?

DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone manufacturer, recently released a refresh of the DJI Mavic Pro. The Mavic Platinum is designed to have longer battery life but also be quieter, through a combination of new motors and propellers. For those of you (and me too) who use a Mavic Pro, changing the drone’s motor isn’t practical, although you can get the low noise propellers.

As you can see in the video above, I used a sound meter to test how effective those low noise propellers are on the Mavic, since they work on both drones. They are quieter, but not by much, and there is one other drawback to using them on the Mavic.

Those of you using the Mavic Pro or Platinum might want to also check out the best soft case for both drones and if you’re a new drone pilot, brush up on these 12 things to know to prevent crashes.

The Spigen Thin Fit Is Exceptionally Minimalist Phone Protection

There are some products so simple yet effective it’s hard to say too much without saying enough about them. Of all the gear I travel with, the Spigen Thin Fit is probably the one I handle most on a daily basis. The Thin Fit series is my go-to phone case for all the mobiles I travel with because they’re low profile, extremely durable, and inexpensive.

Dumb Case

Although cases like the ThinCharge can give you more than double the battery life, even the slimmest are several times thicker than the Thin Fit. Charging cases also tend to wrap up your entire phone with matte finishes that have a lot of friction, making them awkward to take out of a jacket or jeans pocket. The Thin Fit, while matte, is smooth but provides a good grip and Spigen have figured out an efficient protective design. The Thin Fit only covers the corners, backs, and sides – if you watch the video above you’ll see how it Spigen seems to know where I’ll you’ll drop your phone most.

spigen thin fit

spigen thin fitSpigen Thin Fit Cases

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Charging cases also do a good job of charging, not so much of protecting. There’s a trade off that has to be made and if you’re looking for the thinnest case that doesn’t do anything but protect your phone with the least amount of case needed, check out the Spigen Thin Fit. Spigen make the Thin Fit (plus a bunch of other case types) for most varieties of modern Apple, Samsung, and other popular phones.

The Cheapest GoPro Knockoff Might Not Be As Good But Could Be Enough For Most People

There are lots of popular GoPro action camera knockoffs on sale, most of which are less than $100, but the LeadEdge LE5000 is currently the cheapest with 4K resolution: $39 for a complete kit. Is that too good to be true? Well, it depends on what kind of footage quality you’re expecting from an action camera that’s a tenth the price of the industry leader.

Here’s my full review of the LeadEdge LE5000 action camera and who it might be best suited for.

The Battleground

Let’s start by comparing the LeadEdge LE5000 4K camera to the GoPro line, from the HERO4 ($239) on up since they’re 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30fps as well. For those of you who looking at the LeadEdge I’m guessing 4K is a big reason why, but in case you aren’t quite sure what this higher resolution is, PCMag has a good primer.

Resolution is just one part of how good the video you get looks. The sensor in the camera as well as the lens, amount of light coming through the lens, all play an important factor in video quality. Given that action cameras are designed to be physically small, with very wide-angle lenses (the LeadEdge is 170 degrees), the size of the lenses are heavily restricted.

That means the quality of video you get from any action camera isn’t going to be great and any point and shoot like this bargain Lumix will likely give you crisper footage with better color range in a wider variety of lighting conditions.

Cutting Corners

Given these constraints, the LE5000 has to cut some corners to come $250+ cheaper than a comparable GoPro. Both the lens and the sensor are lacking. The drawbacks of the lens being somewhat grainy footage, that’s especially poor indoors unless you’re working with a lot of light.

You can see examples of LeadEdge 4K footage in my video review above.

leadedge 4k action camera

The electronics in the LeadEdge also seem just barely capable of keeping up with 4K footage, writing to the microSD card sufficiently when there’s little camera motion. On faster action however, the footage is choppy. Slow motion? Forget about using it, the LeadEdge is terrible at 720p 120fps.

Advantages Of The LeadEdge

Clearly you’re not going to get GoPro-level footage with a camera that’s so much cheaper. But the LeadEdge does come with a full kit – case, underwater housing, all of this stuff you can see in my unboxing video.

leadedge le5000 4kLeadEdge Action Camera 4K Ultra HD

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On a tripod, camera dashboard, slow skiing, or as an inexpensive beach camera though the LeadEdge can take some cool shots you couldn’t with a larger mirrorless. The LeadEdge is good enough, but it’s not great. For most users though, an action camera is one you’ll use only a few times a year. Plus travelers will like the reduced theft anxiety of the LeadEdge since it’s much easier to swallow a $39 loss if you get robbed.

Frequent snorkelers, divers, fast-car-snowboarding-all-winter-serious-about-action-vloggers should probably take a close look at a GoPro HERO4 or HERO5. GoPro has also had a lot of financial difficulty, forcing them to lower the prices on their products. Once the HERO4 hits $150 or lower, it will make the choice between a LeadEdge much more difficult. For now, if you only hit the beach once or twice a year, $200 or more dollars on an action camera might not be the best investment.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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