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Small Dog Ballpark Bingo at the Lake Monsters

Local Vermonters, we encourage you to head out to Centennial Field tonight for some baseball and Ballpark Bingo with the Lake Monsters! We’re sponsors of Friday Night Ballpark Bingo, and it’s your chance to try your luck and win some great prizes.

Tonight, you’ll have a chance to win a Chill Pill Audio Chill Box ($100 value) and the first 500 kids into the stadium get a free Lake Monsters baseball!

Check out the schedule here and enjoy a nice summer night at the park!

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Testimony | Steelie Car Mount

Recently, I’ve written about RokForm, the Just Mobile Deluxe Car Kit and Belkin’s Car Tune in Kibbles & Bytes as solutions to mount your iPhone in the car. However, I found that like most accessories, it’s all about what fits the user and in this case, your vehicle.

While manufacturers list most accessories as being universally compatible, we all know with the way cars are set up, that just isn’t the case. Some cars’ cigarette/DC power ports are no longer openly accessible, but rather, tucked away in the center console. The suction cup on the Just Mobile is great, but not for use on all windshields or dashboards. Side note: A friend of mine forgot his phone in it one summer day and it overheated, disabling the phone until it cooled back down (if you’ve had this happen, there’s a specific “temperature” screen that appears).

As a product manager, I have to know all this, and in turn, find a solution for everyone. I tried the Nite Ize Steelie Car Kit and I was skeptical at first — a magnet and my iPhone? Hmm… Well, go figure; it is one of the best iPhone accessories I’ve ever used, and not just for the car, but everyday use. The car kit comes with two pieces: a metal ball that mounts to your car and a magnet that mounts to your iPhone (or a to the case on your iPhone).

Mounting the ball is simple; just use the included alcohol wipe to clean the spot where you want it, dry the surface, and mount the metal ball. This metal ball is what the iPhone will attach to, ensuring you can use the iPhone at any angle or tilt, in landscape or portrait view. I mounted mine pretty high since I mainly use it for GPS. If you mainly use your phone for music or hands-free calling via Bluetooth, I suggest mounting it more out of the way. Next, attach the magnet to the center of your iPhone. I will admit that I didn’t center mine and I regret it; luckily, you can buy replacement pieces if needed. Once you have attached both pieces via their 3M sticky, you’re ready to go.

The phone easily attaches to the metal ball and allows for great viewing at several angles. It’s very secure (well tested on our VT dirt roads), and looks stylish when not in use. I’ve taken a few car trips using the GPS and it’s great; in line view so you don’t take your eyes off the road, and easily removed when you get out of the car. Now here’s the best part: there is a magnet on your phone, so it can now stick to any metal surface.

So why do I need a magnet on my iPhone? Think about it — in the kitchen, we need a timer or recipe up, so slap it on the fridge! In the garage, you may want to look at directions, so slap it on the tool chest out, of harm’s way. Working on the car? You guessed it, slap it on the car and watch the YouTube video on how to change your oil. It’s fantastic!

I understand that you may not want this magnet on your phone all the time, so we’re going to give you a free sample case to stick it on if you prefer, and you’ll get free shipping on both! Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

SPECIAL: Get a free Lake Monsters slim case for iPhone 5/5s when you purchase a Steelie Car Mount. See it here.


iPod touch Gets an Update

Today, Apple announced an update to their iPod touch. Nothing too major — those announcements are usually saved for their Keynote presentations — but it may excite some of you out there.

A while back you may recall they released a 16GB touch that was pretty much a dumbed-down version of their 32GB and 64GB versions — no rear-facing camera, only came in silver, etc.

However, now every 16GB iPod touch comes in all colors (pink, blue, yellow, black and silver), iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording, 4-inch Retina display, A5 chip, and FaceTime camera.

The 16GB will come in at $199, 32GB at $249 and the 64GB at $299. With the decline in iPod sales over the years, it seems like a good move on Apple’s part — even if it’s still one of the top sellers in the non-cellphone media players category. Check them all out here!

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Testimony | Outdoor Tech Turtle Shell

Summer is upon us, that means we’re all playing outside in one way or another. Biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, camping or just straight chillin’ and grillin’. Either way, some of us can’t go without tunes filling in the soundtrack to our outdoor fun. I have been out camping already this season and found that, being the nerd/techie I am, I camp a little differently.

The serenity of looking at the stars and “being away from it all” is great. However, I enjoy a little music and Netflix before bed. On my last few adventures, I’ve carried a backup battery from Goal Zero and the Turtle Shell from Outdoor Tech.

I’m not claiming to be an audiophile, but all my friends I was camping and chillin’ in the backyard with were shocked at the sound coming from this small, oddly-shaped orange boombox! The Turtle Shell connects via Bluetooth to my iPhone 5 easily and has a great battery meter to tell me how the Turtle’s battery is doing. Note: I always have an 3.5mm AUX cable with me so I don’t have to pair/re-pair my friends phones.

The speaker has two tweeters and a bass battery. What is a bass battery? Well, some genius figured out that you can use the battery as a sub — genius right? The sound is great, with clean highs and thumping lows. For camping, it was mostly that hippie music — Phish, the Dead and other jam bands. But for the backyard party, it was everything from Miley, Jay-Z, DMB, Miranda Lambert (don’t judge). You name the genre, it came up (OK, maybe no slow jams); the Turtle Shell’s sound stayed true through them all.

But, that’s not even the best part. Sounding good is important, but what if you’re having so much fun that you either spill on it or worse yet, forget about it altogether? Sure enough, I forgot it and accidentally left it outside all night — it rained, poured and may have been struck by lightning (probably not, but maybe). I woke up to it sitting in the grass beside my tent…! It’s advertised as being “shower, rain and generally any other liquid proof,” but come on, for real? Yep, for real — it turned it on right away (not recommended for most wet electronics) and the jams kept pumping. “Party on, Wayne!”

With much of summer left, I’m happy to know that come rain or shine, my Turtle will be bumpin’. Enjoy your summer!

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Vermont Goes Hands-Free: Part 2

I wanted to first start by saying thank you to those who responded to my first article; I always enjoy hearing from our customers. Please continue to let us know how you use your iPhone in the car.

Now, on to more iPhone-compatible solutions in the car. Today, I want to cover the AUX/Cassette/Adaptor/FM Transmitters. As I said last time, AUX doesn’t allow for hands-free, but this doesn’t mean it’s not a great option for music enthusiasts. I also may have found a trick that works to adapt your AUX-enabled car with Bluetooth. And finally, those FM Transmitters, with which most of us have had a love-hate relationship.

The AUX, easily one of the greatest and most versatile features car companies have utilized during the digital music era, doesn’t require you have an Apple, Android, Windows or whatever device but rather a female 1/8-inch hole. Even one of those awesome portable CD players you have would work. The easiest way to know if your car has AUX is if it has a button on your radio. Then, it’s just a matter of finding where they hide the actual port (could be in the glove box, center console etc.). We sell some great AUX cables in a variety of lengths (1ft, 3ft, and 6ft), from StarTech, which all have a slim input to accommodate your case. But alas, you can’t speak through an AUX input…or can you?

In comes the Outdoor Tech Adapt. Scott (part of our awesome IT department) and I tested this one out. We simply plugged the Adapt into the AUX port in my car. The Adapt is a Bluetooth headphone adapter allowing for play/pause, volume up/down, and back/next functions, as well as a mic for calls. Spotify came through right away and sounded great — I even placed a call and sure enough, they said they could hear me. Holding the play/pause, answer/hang up button activated Siri, allowing me to text hands-free as well.

For those of you with AUX ports and no Bluetooth, you must check out the Outdoor Tech Adapt. We also carry two great AUX stands: Griffin’s Tune Flex and Belkin’s TuneBase AUX Hands-Free. I’m partial to the Belkin model, as it has lightning charger built-in and creates a great stand for the iPhone 5/5s/5c.

Now, briefly a look at the Griffin Direct Deck. Yes, this is actually a cassette adapter. Great for classic cars that still have a cassette deck and are keeping the stock look or for the pickup that it’s just not worth upgrading the stereo in. Either way, this is a great piece of technology. Simply slide the DirectDeck in, and plug the 1/8th jack into your phone. In doing so, you’ll notice the great feature of the direct deck is it has a mic built-in to the 1/8th inch connection. This allows you to take calls while using the cassette adapter. That’s right, you’re pumping jams from a streaming service like Pandora through a cassette player and placing and receiving calls. And they thought the cassette was dead!

I still remember the first FM transmitter we produced and I used — the CarTune. It was a great product with a simple design plugged into the power port and connected to my iPod via 30-pin connector. It was nice if you lived here in rural Vermont where we have a number of open FM stations to choose from. However, this was a little tougher on my first trip to Boston. I look back and realized it was more dangerous than helpful as I kept changing the CarTune FM dial to find a station that would work.

These have come a long way, and most recently Belkin released the new Lightning TuneBase Hands-Free FM with ClearCast. This FM Transmitter goes above and beyond my old CarTune. It has a sturdy stand which docks your iPhone with Lightning connector allowing it to charge and accommodates for either portrait or landscape view if you’re using Maps, which I found to be very useful. The base, which plugs into the car charging port, has the FM tuner function built-in, so that you can use ClearCast and find the best FM station to broadcast over. Unlike other FM transmitters, this one allows for easy hands-free calling. A large button at the bottom of the phone lets you answer and hang up calls and activate Siri. Check it out.

As always, I hope this information was helpful and continue to encourage you to reach out to me with your solutions for hands-free iPhone connectivity.

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