Tech Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Tech

Cleer ALLY PLUS Provide Budget ANC Earbuds For Travelers

For a long time active noise canceling (ANC) was a feature limited to bulky, expensive headphones. For travelers, the trade off has been a difficult one but ANC, when done right, is a technology that’s hard to travel without once you’ve used it. Cleer’s ALLY PLUS are a pair of ANC earbuds which have recently dropped in price and come with respectable ANC as well.

You can watch my full review in the video here.

Why ANC?

Most headphones have some sort of noise isolation – a pretty broad term meaning they block outside sounds so you can hear your music or podcast better. Noise isolation is somewhat inherent in headphones; they are, after all, sitting in or over your ears while simultaneously producing sound directly into them.

ANC uses reverse sound waves (analyzed by the microphones in the earbuds) to silence the outside world. When done effectively, it can make the cafe or airplane you’re flying in become a silent room. The ALLY PLUS aren’t as effective as the Bose QuietComfort or Jabra Elite 85h with its ANC. The outside world isn’t completely shut off but its the best ANC under $200 in an earbud I’ve tried. The battery life is decent, package small, and sound quality good enough to be a solid budget ANC option for many travelers.

DJI Osmo Action 2020 Review: Getting Better With Age

It’s rare that a tech product improves with time but since its release last year, DJI’s Osmo Action has gone from a cheeky upstart to a real contender for best action camera. Through a series of firmware updates DJI has corrected a lot of the initial problems present when the Osmo Action was first released still, those patches might not be for everyone.

To find out how good the DJI Osmo Action is in 2020 you can watch the video above or read on.

Breaking Ground

The most noticeable feature of the DJI Osmo Action is its front facing screen. The first 4K action camera to have a screen on the front as well as back, this valuable hardware feature had some issues. Notably lag and screen timeouts which, among other defects, have been fixed through firmware updates.

A front facing screen is invaluable in many situations though most obviously for frequent vloggers. Making sure you’re in frame with action cameras, although they typically have wide fields of view, is cumbersome without a way to see for yourself. Speaking of field of view, the Osmo Action lens can capture 145 degrees – not quite as wide as others but not as fish-eye looking either. Depending on your preference this can be a pro or con but I would say if you do a lot of helmet mounted filming (e.g. skiing, motorcycle) wider would be preferable.

Low Light Is RockSteady

Not surprisingly for a company that makes gimbals the Osmo Action’s RockSteady stabilization feature is impressive. RockSteady keeps your video looking smooth even if you’re bouncing down a mountain on skis. Additionally, the Osmo Action’s low light performance is impressive for an action camera; allowing you to see the darker parts of an image by not going overboard on contrast.

dji osmo action

Indoors are generally not good shooting conditions for the small lenses of action cameras but the Osmo Action does better than most. Colors are also represented vibrantly without over-saturating and skin tones look excellent. The microphone is decent, enhanced with a firmware update, or can be enhanced with hardware.

Lots In The First Gen

The Osmo Action is a look at the future of action cams with its front facing screen, solid stabilization, and image quality aiming to be a good camera that doesn’t necessarily have the word ‘action’ before it. Clearly a work in progress as the first action camera by DJI, the Osmo Action is improves and adds features with each software update every 1-2 months.

Still, users who don’t want to bother with firmware updates you might be better off looking at a fully baked competitor. You won’t get the latest cutting edge features but won’t have to deal with updating software. For travelers who want a front facing screen, good low light quality, plus a more realistic field of view the Osmo Action is really the top choice – but only if you remember to update its firmware on a very regular basis.

Is The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L Backpack Worth The Price?

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is a highly anticipated backpack for its features but controversial due to its price. A custom-designed collaboration between vlogger Peter McKinnon and NOMATIC, the Camera Pack aims to solve many problems with one-bag travel… for $599.

Many of you might expect that price puts the McKinnon Camera Pack 35L as a purely luxury item but for many travelers, certain functionality will justify the cost. You can watch the video above to see more or read on.

Unpacking The Price

Before many of us carried full offices on our backs, the primary piece of luggage we paid for was the check-in kind. Over the past 15 years though, laptops, cameras, drones, and other expensive items (with batteries that aren’t allowed to be checked) have made our carry-on more essential.

Interior designing a suitcase or backpack that will primarily hold clothing isn’t very intricate and the reason by hiking backpacks aren’t ideal for most travelers. Clothing requires a large empty space since the contents can get jostled around and won’t be access until you arrive at your destination. Exterior durability on a bag like the Timbuk2 Copilot is where a lot of the cost goes.

mckinnon camera pack

Modern backpacks, often filled with over a thousand of dollars of equipment have a much more difficult task. They need to efficiently keep interior contents in place, allow for easy frequent access, plus have a rugged exterior that’s light. Oh, and be carried on your back comfortably at the same time. Missing those marks is why some backpacks fail.

McKinnon’s Answer

For those of us who travel with a lot of electronic or photographic equipment, a carry-on is vital gear meaning we often have to check-in a bag for less important stuff like underwear. For longer or international trips, the carry and check-in combo isn’t too much of a encumbrance however on a weekend or day trip even, using a single bag is ideal.

For those of you who only travel with a laptop, then it’s likely you already have enough space in your backpack for a weekend’s worth of clothes. Now add in a DSLR like the G85, maybe some lenses or a drone and forget about it. The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is the solution to this issue Peter was facing.

Segmented Spaciousness

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L itself isn’t $599 – that’s the cost with all the accessories specifically designed for this bag. Without those accessories, the backpack is $399, on par with something like a GORUCK GR2. Much less expensive generic versions of the accessories (a battery pouch for example) can be found on Amazon to save money. Of all the accessories, the Camera Cube Pack – a larger organizer that turns into a daypack and can be used with any bag – is the one to take a look at ($129).

Segmented into two sections, one for bulky electronics and the other for clothing, the 35 liter Camera Pack expands to 42 liters. At nearly 3 kilograms (~6 pounds) the Camera Pack 35L is heavy but might meet your needs. You’ll need to evaluate the Camera Pack 35L based on these 3 things in this order:

  1. Materials – The importance of durability increases with frequency of travel.
  2. Design – How are those materials are arranged to organize your specific gear.
  3. Features – Frequent international travel means a quick access passport pocket will be useful, or loading straps for examples. These are the little things that determine the ease of use for you in particular.

camera pack 35l

Where the McKinnon Camera Pack is trying to differentiate itself is in higher level aspects of design and heavily on features and in many ways it will check a lot of those boxes for many travelers. There are though less expensive alternatives, like the Thule Subterra 34L or Aer Travel Pack 2 which have excellent quality with designs applicable to many people.

A bag with a lot of specific features, functions, and pockets means it will have a very specific user base. Given that NOMATIC has a generous 30 day return policy, the McKinnon Camera Pack 35L might be worth testing if it’s within your budget. Remember, your electronics bag is the most important piece of gear you travel with since it protects all of your most valuable belongings.

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is a heavy bag that comes loaded with features and might solve one very big problem in one-bag travel – a bag that can actually be that.

What Are eSIMs? Easy Mobile Internet For Travel

This post was sponsored by Airalo who wanted me to share with you the benefits of eSIMs using their service. [What is this?]

The latest version of mobile SIM cards make it easy to get data plans around the world through an app – and it may already be built into your phone. eSIMs are the next generation of subscriber identity modules that differ from plastic and gold physical SIMs by being software based.

What this means for international travelers is getting mobile data from country to country is as easy as a few clicks using Airalo.

How eSIMs Work

You’re probably familiar with standard SIM cards, that piece of removable plastic you slide into in a slot on your phone. eSIMs serve the same function – to identify your phone to mobile networks – but eSIMs are physically embedded in your phone’s hardware. When you need to change your SIM, say, for when you’re visiting France from Canada, instead of swapping out a SIM card, all you need to do is open an app.

Benefits For Travelers

Some of the immediate up sides to eSIMs is you don’t need to go to a physical shop or deal with local restrictions. All you have to do is go to an eSIM provider like Airalo, which has plans in over 100 countries worldwide. Set up an account with Airalo, then download their app and choose your next destination. You’ll be presented with a variety of (mostly) data plans, which vary by duration and total data (e.g. 3GB).

airalo esim

You do need to do all of this while you have a wifi connection but otherwise you can get all the cards you’ll need ahead of your travels. Airalo even provides regional eSIM cards such as Europe plus you can keep your original SIM card active if you want, for example, to get calls on one line but use data with the other.

Convenient Service, Quirky Setup

Because eSIMs are fairly new (only working with these latest flagship phones) mobile operating systems make installing an eSIM clunky at best. Once you’ve purchased your eSIM from a provider like Airalo, you’ll be presented with a QR code you need to scan from your phone. In other words, you can’t install the eSIM using only the Airalo app since you need to scan the QR code from your mobile’s cellular settings.

airalo

The most obvious options are to point your phone at your laptop to scan the code after logging into your Airalo account. Taking a picture of the code displayed on your phone with another phone (what are travel buddies for) and scanning that, or using two mirrors in a hotel room has also worked for me.

No More Airport SIM Stops

There are other issues like having to change APN codes which will be too much hoop jumping for users who aren’t too tech-savvy. Despite these issues eSIM services are getting better but the technology is already the best option for travelers. You no longer have to wait in airport lines for mobile data when you can have Internet right when you land. Using Airalo is a bit more expensive than purchasing a local SIM and phone numbers aren’t available for most plans; however the convenience means you probably won’t bother with physical cards again.

Prevent People From Snooping Your Screen With A Laptop Privacy Filter

This is a sponsored post written by me Sponsored by 3M All opinions are 100% mine.

I use a privacy filter on all my screens so when 3M got in touch for this sponsored partnership it was a good opportunity to share the benefits with you. [What is this?]

3m privacy filter

We’ve all had the experience of people looking over our shoulder on the metro, bus, or planes, curious to see what we’re looking at on our phones. With smaller devices it’s easy to turn a shoulder but for laptops, keeping your screen private is more difficult, especially when traveling.

There are a lot of good reasons to keep the contents of your screen hidden from shoulder surfers sitting next to you on a plane: business travelers to keep important documents confidential, regulatory requirements in your field, and developers working on code. Disclosure of any of those, not to mention your passwords, name (when logging on to social media), can all be easily prevented with a privacy filter.

What’s A Privacy Filter?

These are like screen protectors placed on your laptop screen, except the 3M™ Privacy Filter limits the viewing angles. Basically the contents of the screen are only visible from one angle – right in front. People sitting next to you at a cafe or standing in an airplane aisle won’t be able to see your screen. You can watch the effect in the video below to see how even a screen image at full brightness disappears when you move a bit to the side.

 

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15 Second Installation

The collaborative nature of a laptop – it can be your business work space or television in one – means you don’t want to always restrict your screen for your eyes only. To make using a laptop privacy filter practical, 3M developed its 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System. For people who don’t want to stick anything to their screen, the way the 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System works is by using two adhesives to the exterior or your laptop. Fast, and easily removable without residue if needed, you can see in the video below how the 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System allows you to simply flip a privacy filter up or down as needed.

3m privacy filter

What I like about the 3M™ Privacy Filters is they’re designed (with a feature called 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System) so you can get switch between private viewing and sharing with little effort if needed. You might be on a flight and want to share your screen with a friend or have a meeting where a privacy filter might hinder your group’s view.

Worth The Effort?

You may be thinking whether or not a privacy filter is excessive but if you travel for business in particular, it can help maintain your company’s proprietary information. Digital nomads or other small, independent business owners, the same goes for you. A displayed password, code snippet, or other personal information caught at a glance by a shoulder surfer could cause you potential headaches a 3M ™ Privacy Filter can prevent. The 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System is an elegant way to implement a laptop privacy screen in a way that you’ll actually use it in multiple situations and is a portable, effective, and inexpensive way to maintain your privacy on the road.

What 249 Gram Drones Mean For Travelers

There are a number of rules, regulations, and restrictions for flying drones around the world. Often, an important number you’ll find in many of the regulations is 250 grams, a weight used to differentiate between drone classifications. With the release of the DJI Mavic Mini specifically designed to weigh 249g, you might be wondering what it means if you travel with a drone.

There’s a lot of confusion regarding the current weight limits and not knowing the right rules could get you fined or worse. Here’s what you need to know about flying your lightweight drone.

Why 249g?

It’s important to remember that drone rules vary across the world (here’s an always up to date map, as well the mobile version), but in many United States jurisdictions and western Europe, 250 grams often marks the line between two classes of drone. Since a lot of the world has taken its drone law cues from the U.S. (one of the world’s largest drone consumers), 250 grams has become an unofficial global standard.

scottish highlands

Drones weighing more than 250 grams are usually considering amateur unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) whereas 249g and less are either a lower class of drone or classified as toys.

Rules Still Apply

One major point of confusion for a lot of people to clear up now – in most places with a 250g weight limit, drones weighing less aren’t exempt from any rules. For the most part, drones like the Mavic Mini weighing 249g don’t have to be registered, but all the other restrictions apply.

And if you think about it, that makes sense. The Mavic Mini is 249g but it can still fly above 120 meters (394 feet) which is most places is not allowed because that’s another level of flight space. You still need to maintain a visual line of sight (VLOS) in Sweden for example, since 249g or not, crashing a drone can still be dangerous to people below.

Know The Local Regulations

Drones weighing less than 249g might be able to be imported into countries where UAVs are not officially allowed but it’s important to check the specific rules that apply. As I mentioned above, this map is updated in real-time and DroneMate (Android/iOS) can put all the local laws and regulations in your pocket for offline use. It’s also worth mentioning that as drones get lighter and smaller, legislators are likely to update the rules over time to encompass the updated tech.

249g drones like the Mavic Mini make it just a little less hassle to get permission to fly a drone in some places but that’s not likely to be the case indefinitely.

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