Tuesday, November 14, 2017

When You’re Unfriended in Real Life

The schools of the great sages of the Jewish people, Hillel and Shammai, were known to debate each other on just about every topic. The students of these two schools rarely agreed on anything; each strongly and passionately arguing the opposite position of the other, albeit always with respect for the other’s opinion.

In Judaism, we believe that each human is created in the divine image and, thus, we have the responsibility to treat one another with respect. However, many of us humans don’t act with godliness when participating in Facebook discussions involving political viewpoints.

The 2012 election was bad when it came to a lack of civility on Facebook, but the 2016 election a year ago was many times worse. I’m scared to think of what 2020 will bring us. Many close friends unfriended each other on the social network, relatives blocked relatives and, even worse, long-term relationships in real life were severed because of hurt feelings during political arguments. While the election might have been over on November 8, 2016, the heated arguments on Facebook have continued. In the past year, with a President known to send out many divisive tweets before most people have had their first cup of coffee, the Facebook battlefield has only intensified.

Many friendships have been damaged permanently because of politics on Facebook

If you have a Facebook account, you likely witnessed at least one unfortunate interaction in the past couple of years. It has been impossible to post anything about either presidential candidate without a couple of trolls coming in to paste the latest talking points from the most extremist online blogs they could find to bolster their position or refute everyone else’s opinion.

This has been true on both sides, from the extreme left and the extreme right. On social networks, especially Facebook, people have learned to hide behind their screens when they say these hateful things, but it affects all their relationships and not only their virtual relationships. In the run-up to the 2016 election, most political opinions on either candidate would be met with attacks in the comment section of that post. Many of the comments were not fact checked and some were outright myths that had already been debunked by Snopes.com, the fact-checking web site. In the past year, tempers have flared even more with friends attacking friends on Facebook over everything from the NFL's national anthem controversy and the Second Amendment to the Russian interference in the election and Trump's policies. No topic is off limits when it comes to firing shots in the comment section of Facebook and real friendships become the collateral damage.

I was recently tutoring a young woman for her bat mitzvah and we were studying the Tower of Babel story within her Torah portion. I explained that God was so angered that humans would try to build a tower to the sky that God punished them by confounding their languages so they couldn’t communicate with one another. Immediately, this wise 13-year-old girl said, “In my bat mitzvah speech, I want to talk about how we communicate with each other.” And she immediately hit the nail on the head by explaining the negative effects that occur from the way teens talk to each other in the 21st century. Rather than speaking face-to-face, today’s teens send coded text messages, Snapchat messages that disappear after several seconds, and comments under the photos they post on Instagram. The language they use is different from what any prior generation would recognize as English. One misinterpreted emoji or abbreviation can mean the end of a friendship.

On Facebook, it’s not only the teens who resort to insults and abusive language when someone offends them with their strongly held opinion. Earlier generations wouldn’t understand how your crazy liberal uncle can get into a heated debate with some girl you went to summer camp with a few decades ago.

When adults begin threatening to “unfollow” or “unfriend,” we quickly find ourselves feeling trapped and annoyed in a fourth-grade-esque insult circus. Cutting off contact with someone with opposing ideology will never further discussion, debate and democracy. Sadly, a lot of people on Facebook are close-minded, unwilling to listen to opposing opinions.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

What a Year for Jews in Baseball!

For any baseball fan who pays special attention to the few (very few) good Jewish baseball players in Major League Baseball, 2017 was a very exciting year. And the excitement started even before the MLB season kicked off. In a Times of Israel article, I wrote about the memorable seven days of March that were magical for the ragtag Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. Nate Freiman of Team Israel referred to his squad as "The Mensches of March" and they were known for their iconic "Mensch on the Bench" doll and for donning yarmulkes during the playing of Hatikvah (Israel's national anthem) before games. Team Israel became the pride of every Jewish kid around the world who had been waiting for their big Sandy Koufax or Hank Greenberg-esque excitement.

With the bar mitzvah boy before the Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia

The next big moment in Jewish baseball (at least for me) came in late July. I flew to Philadelphia to officiate the bar mitzvah of a special needs boy before the Philadelphia Phillies game. About 100 of us gathered in a party room at the ballpark to watch this young man be called to the Torah (yes, I brought a small Torah into Citizens Bank Park!) along with his therapy dog (it was a bark mitzvah too!). Officiating a bar mitzvah before a Major League Baseball game inside the stadium was pretty cool and I couldn't imagine what could top it on that special night. And then the game went into extra innings. In the bottom of the 11th inning, pinch hitter Ty Kelly, a nice Jewish kid from Dallas, hit the walk off RBI to win the game for the Phillies. The bar mitzvah boy was ecstatic (along with the other Philly fans in the packed ballpark). The 29-year-old Kelly, who proudly wears a Jewish star necklace, has a Jewish mother and played for Team Israel this past year.

The excitement of the 2017 MLB season for fans of Jewish baseball players continued right up to the very end with two elite Jewish sluggers squaring off against each other in the World Series. Both Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros had memorable postseason performances. Pederson had 3 homers in the postseason and Bregman had 4 homers and 10 RBI in the postseason. Had the Dodgers emerged victorious, Pederson was surely a candidate for World Series MVP.

Alex Bregman, of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros, is one of the top Jewish MLB players today

The 2017 World Series had a couple notable moments for Jewish baseball fans. Pederson had all 3 of his postseason home runs in the World Series, giving him the record for most home runs by a Jewish player in one World Series, moving him past Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. Bregman also makes the Jewish baseball record books becoming the first Jewish player to win a World Series game with a walk-off hit (in game 5 of the World Series). Both Bregman and Pederson homered in Saturday night's game 4, making them the first Jewish baseball players on opposing teams to homer in the World Series in the same game. Wow, that's a lot of records for one World Series.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Do You Know this Wealthy Jew?

A quick Web search of the Detroit Jewish News Archives from the past two decades will yield a handful of covers featuring head shots of some of our Jewish community’s most successful businessmen who are remembered for their generous charitable contributions. These individuals were mega-wealthy, but they were glorified for their mega-philanthropy. What many may not realize is that the founder of our faith was a wealthy businessman too and the Torah’s first Hebrew might serve as a paragon of virtue for today’s mega-wealthy.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Lech Lecha, Abraham is commanded by God to "lech lecha," that he should leave his ancestral land and travel to a new place that God will show him. Right after this divine order, we are informed about Abraham’s financial status. V’Avram Kaved Meod (Abram was very rich.” Our patriarch was rich in cattle, silver and gold. There is much to be learned from this word kaved, or rich. The word most often used for rich or wealthy in the Torah is ashir. So we must be curious about the choice to use kaved here.

In modern Hebrew, we use the word kaved to mean heavy, as in a physical weight, but it can also mean a burden. Rashi mentions this meaning in his commentary on the verse, and adds another meaning of kaved that we are familiar with from the fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments -- kabed et avicha v’et imecha (you must honor your parents). Similarly, from the same root is the word for an honor that is given out in synagogue, a kibood. Finally, the word kaved also means liver, which is the heaviest part of our body. So, in the Torah portion, we learn that Abraham is very wealthy and that the term used to demonstrate his wealth is an unusual choice.

"Kaved" is used to tell us that Abraham was weighted down with many possessions because of his wealth showing that it can be a challenge to have a financial fortune. In the very next verse, we learn that Abraham traveled from the Negev desert to Beit El “in stages,” which Rashi explains as meaning that Abraham took the same route on his return staying in the same places he had lodged on his way down to Egypt before he had wealth. This means that while Abraham is wealthier now, he has retained his humility and doesn’t choose to stay in nicer places. Abraham, our patriarch, was not altered by his accumulation of wealth. Recognizing the tendency to be burdened by money and possessions, Abraham maintain his kavod (honor) when he became kaved (wealthy). This is not always the case.

We tend to only see the positive side of enormous financial wealth. But, having power and wealth can be burdensome, it can be a challenge. In our society, such a vast possession of wealth requires much responsibility and integrity. It catapults people into the public eye, living life in a fishbowl, having every business decision scrutinized, every investment maneuver questioned. There are many advantages to a life of wealth, but it must be done while maintaining kavod.

There is much to learn from our patriarch Abraham. He was wealthy, but he was also well respected and humble. A model for us in modern times, Abraham possessed the dignity to keep him from a life of over-indulgence in material wealth. Many of the mega-rich tycoons in the corporate world of the 20th and 21st centuries were not paragons of virtue. Their wealth became burdensome, they became greedy and many ultimately got into legal trouble before their ultimate downfall. Such has not been the case with the Detroit Jewish community’s leaders over the past century. By and large, our community has been blessed with a disproportionate number of mega-philanthropists who have used their fortunes for the common good, bolstering noble causes in our community. Like our patriarch Abraham, the pillars of our dynamic community have maintained their kavod while being kaved.

For further discussion:

1. Have you noticed behavioral differences in friends or relatives who have become wealthy suddenly?

2. What are ways we can teach our children to make philanthropy a priority in their lives?

Originally published in The Detroit Jewish News

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Free Speech vs. Respecting the National Anthem

The following is the sermon I delivered on Yom Kippur:

A story: In a synagogue somewhere (it doesn’t matter where), the rabbi instructs the congregation, “Please rise for the Torah processional as the ark is opened and the Torah is taken out.” The rabbi notices one of the synagogue regulars has remained in his seat. He thinks this is odd and makes a mental note to ask Mark during the kiddush following services why he didn’t stand. After the Torah reading the rabbi again directs the congregation to stand and, once again, there’s Mark sitting in his seat.

At Kiddush, the rabbi approaches Mark and greets him with a “Shabbat Shalom.” The rabbi asks Mark if everything is OK and he says it is. The rabbi says that he noticed he did not stand when the Torah came out of the Ark or when it was put back during the recessional. The rabbi peppered him with more questions. “Is there a handicap that prevented you from standing? Do you have a bad back? Do you now get dizzy if you stand?”

Mark then looked at the rabbi and explained, “Because I’m a gay man. I cannot agree with what the Torah says about me or my friends in the gay community. I’m silently protesting the verse in Leviticus that deals with homosexuals. You want me to stand out of respect for a document that, in essence, calls me morally reprehensible – an abomination.

Well, the rabbi thought, on the one hand, it is our synagogue custom that everyone who is physically able to, stands when the Torah is carried around the congregation. But, on the other hand, we subscribe to the democratic ideals of free speech in our country. So, Mark is violating our synagogue policy, our minhag hamakom (our community’s custom), but I also respect him for taking a stand.

Now, I must tell you that I made up this story. But it does serve as an appropriate analogy for the ongoing debate about NFL football players “taking a knee” and refusing to stand during the National Anthem before football games as a form of a protest. I’m not going to get into the reasons WHY these professional football players are choosing to protest… some say it’s because of police brutality, others because of our President’s choice words in condemnation of their protest, and others because of the lyrics in our nation’s anthem. What I do want to discuss today is how we ascribe holiness and meaning to objects, and what happens when our embrace of freedom of speech gets in the way of how we feel about these objects of meaning.

First, take a moment to think about how you would respond to my made-up character of Mark. If you were the rabbi – or a fellow congregant in Mark’s congregation, what would be your response to his decision to not stand for the Torah processional and recessional because he’s at odds over what the Torah says? It’s a plausible act of conscientious objection. What if a group of women in the congregation refused to stand because they didn’t agree with the Torah’s views of women? What if all the non-Kohanim in a congregation objected to the privileges ascribed to the Kohens and refused to stand when the Torah was paraded? That would be a lot of people sitting down in protest!

From just one congregant refusing to stand, it could catch on and then there’d be large-scale protests in congregations around the country – maybe the world. Would we commend the protesters for holding their ground, or would be feel they were disrespecting our Holy Torah?

Remember, ultimately, it was humans who ascribed such holiness to the Torah. And it was humans who ascribed meaning to a poem by Francis Scott Key. Is it not each individual’s right to determine if they should stand or sit for the Torah? For the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner? What if someone chooses to sit for the singing of Israel’s national anthem – Hatikvah? Are they wrong? Are they inconsiderate? Or, are they merely expressing their beliefs and making a statement?

It’s a challenging situation and it’s certainly more complicated than simply saying everyone who is of able body MUST stand for the National Anthem. Looks look at how this controversy began in the NFL.

On August 14, 2016, quarterback Colin Kaepernick chooses to sit for the National Anthem and no one noticed. Mostly because the TV cameras never used to broadcast during the National Anthem unless it was a big playoff game or the Super Bowl. A week later, again Kaepernick sits during the anthem, and again, no one noticed. The following week, he sits and this time he is met with a level of vitriol unseen against an athlete. Even the future President of the United States took shots at him while on the campaign trail. Kaepernick went on to explain his protest had NOTHING to with the military, but he felt it was difficult to stand for a flag that didn't treat people of color fairly.

Then on August 30, 2016, Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret turned NFL long snapper, penned an open letter to Colin Kaepernick in the Army Times. In it he expressed how Kaepernick's sitting affected him. Then a strange thing happened. Kaepernick was able to do what most Americans to date have not... He listened.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Remembering Dick Lobenthal - A Legend

And the king said to his soldiers, “You well know that a prince, a great man of the Jewish people, has fallen this day" (II Samuel, 2:38).

I took Richard Lobenthal out for breakfast six years ago with the purpose of interviewing him about his life. My editor at The Detroit Jewish News gave me the go-ahead to write an extensive article about Dick's career with the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), which spanned four decades. At that breakfast I took copious notes -- over 10 pages filled with anecdotes from a decades-long mission of fighting hate. Several times over the past 6 years I considered writing that article, but it always felt too soon. I felt that if the article was published, he would soon die. So, I never wrote that article, but I still have the notes and plan to write it this year.

With Dick Lobenthal at the Anti-Defamation League's Centennial Celebration in 2013

I first met Dick Lobenthal at Michigan State University because he was the guy we called whenever there was anti-Semitism on campus or an anti-Israel speaker was coming. I got to know him very well in the summer of 1996 when Daniel Harold and I were his interns at the ADL office in Southfield. After that summer, I returned to MSU to discuss my summer "field experience" with my professor, Michael Schechter. He asked what I thought of my time at the ADL and I said something to the effect of, "This summer I had the honor to get to know a Living Legend."

Watching as Abe Foxman greets Richard Lobenthal at the ADL's Centennial Celebration in Detroit

The last time I saw Dick was when I took him out for lunch before his surgery. He seemed so brave about his prognosis and kept saying that he'd rather talk about me and my family. I honestly didn't think he'd live this long after the surgery, but it shows what a determined fighter he was. Dick's daughter, Lisabeth, asked me to share some stories about this great man at his funeral:

When the Detroit Jewish News emailed me yesterday and asked me to write Dick’s obituary for the paper, I did the normal thing. I went to the Jewish News archives online and did a search for Dick’s name. My eyes got about this big! Dick Lobenthal is mentioned in about 600 different issues of the Detroit Jewish News from the early 1960's to as recently as a couple years ago. Now, that’s pretty impressive considering it means that he’s mentioned in something like 10% of all issues printed during his time here in Metro Detroit.

Now, if you think that’s impressive, consider that, in addition to being quoted in articles – mostly about combating anti-Semitic attacks both locally and abroad – and the mentions about basic ADL business, the vast majority of those mentions are promoting Dick’s speaking engagements. In addition to the radio shows, the phone calls, the letter writing, the op-ed publishing, the advocacy work, the fundraising, the reading and research that he was doing, Dick Lobenthal was doing speaking engagements all the time. Those speaking engagements were not because Dick Lobenthal liked to hear himself talk. They were because he was teaching… he was an educator. He was teaching people to love, not hate. He was preaching tolerance and understanding. And he was indefatigable in this work. Our world, as we all know, is still a very fractured place, BUT, I truly believe the world is a BETTER place because of Dick Lobenthal and the godly work that he did.

In 2005, I invited Dick Lobenthal to speak to students at the University of Michigan Hillel

Two Stories:

It was my Freshman year at Michigan State. Admittedly, I was a naïve, Jewish kid from Metro Detroit who hadn’t been exposed to anything! I went to Hillel Day School, was active in a Synagogue Youth Group, went to Camp Tamarack, etc. Now, here I was an 18-year-old at MSU and now involved with the Jewish Student Union. It seemed like each week that Fall, another Nation of Islam representative, Israel-basher or Holocaust denier was coming to campus. Put simply, there was A LOT of “Hate on campus.” We college kids didn’t know what to do. Do we sit in silently in the audience to witness these speeches? Do we protest? Picket outside? Sit down in the crowd and wait for them to say something offensive and then get up and walk out?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Back to School Tech Product Roundup

Does it feel like the summer just started? Well, it’s already back to school time. Those are words that most kids dread to hear and most parents look forward to hearing. This has always been my favorite time of year because there are so many new tech products on the market. “Back to school” tech products don’t just mean cool school supplies and gadgets. There are many new products available that will make everyone, from teachers to executives, more productive.

Back to school time also means companies are beginning to release their new and exciting products for the holiday season. From virtual reality and drones to security cameras and 3D printers, these many new products are unbelievable. In this roundup of products, I have included everything from smokers for your Labor Day barbecue to fun drones that will make videography more fun for everyone in the family. Affordable 4K televisions for your college student and educational games that will keep everyone on their toes this school year. Why wait for the holiday season to splurge on new tech products? Check out this great list of exciting new gadgets.

Featured Laptop:

Huawei MateBook D – I’m a big fan of Huawei products (I love their phones) and this 15.6-inch notebook doesn’t disappoint. It’s the first lapper of this size to launch Dolby Atmos Sound System providing an immersive sound experience with Dolby custom-designed and tuned speakers. It’s so thin and light that all ages of students will be able to carry this powerful computer to classes each day. It has NVIDIA GeForce 940MX Graphics with 2GB GDDR5 video memory to ensure extraordinary work and entertainment experiences. Comes with Windows 10 Home and a i5 processor, with 1 year Office365 included. http://consumer.huawei.com/en/tablets/matebook-d/

Featured Phones

Moto e4 Phone – There was a time when young students weren’t allowed to take a phone to school, but no more. Now that our kids can have phones, we want to equip them with one that is powerful, but not too costly. This ridiculously inexpensive smartphone is sure to impress with its 5” HD display and compact design. Don’t let the price fool you because this phone has most of the same specs phones five times the price do. It has a fingerprint sensor to instantly unlock your phone, a quad-core processor and 4G speed. The camera lets you take sharp photos, even in low light conditions. The removeable battery, which is becoming more uncommon in phones, lets you swap a new battery after a couple years of use. It also has a selfie flash and its splash resistant. https://www.motorola.com/us/products/moto-e-gen-4

BlackBerry KEYone – A friend of mine who is a long time BlackBerry aficionado endured years of jokes at his expense for his seemingly outdated phones. He finally succumbed and switched to an iPhone, but that was a mistake. He should have waited for the KEYone to be relieased. This phone features a 4.5 inch 1650×1080 pixel resolution display with a Snapdragon 625 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM, 12 megapixel rear and 5 megapixel front cameras, as well as a long-lasting 3,505mAh battery. It has the BlackBerry standard full QWERTY keyboard, of course. At $549.99, it’s sure to give the iPhones a run for their money. https://us.blackberry.com/smartphones

Featured TVs

Hisense H8 TV – A generation ago many parents frowned on the idea of a TV in their child’s room because it was seen as an alternative to homework. Today’s generation of kids might spend time watching their favorite shows on Netflix, but they’re just as likely to be watching tutorials for school on YouTube on the 55” display hung on the wall of their bedroom. Hisense offers advanced HDR processing at an unbeatable price tag with brilliant picture quality, built-in wireless, Netflix, Vudu Movies, and YouTube for the latest in entertainment. The 65-inch model retails for $899.99 with smaller sizes offered for less. https://www.hisense-usa.com/electronics/tv

TCL S-Series HD-TV (4K) – While Samsung, Sony and Vizio might be the more popular names in the television industry, it’s brands like TCL that are offering high-end 4K models that are more affordable. TCL’s S-Series features Dolby Vision HDR and enhanced front-facing speakers to deliver premium picture quality and superior sound. With sizes ranging from 28” HD displays, perfect for a kitchen countertop, 43” Full HD models great for bedroom watching, to 65” 4K HDR resolution to help turn your living room into the ultimate entertainment experience. http://www.tclusa.com/products/home-theater/s-series

Featured Backpacks and Briefcases

booq SuperSlim 15 – I don’t leave home without my booq case that protects my Microsoft Surface Pro. It’s lightweight and comfortable to carry. The SuperSlim 15 proves to be the perfect companion for comfortable traveling and daily commuting with its polyester interior, functional pockets and padded lip inside its laptop compartment to protect laptops. It features booq’s Terralinq lost and found service and a five-year warranty. https://www.booqbags.com/

STM Judge Laptop Brief – Ideal for schlepping your laptop around campus, STM’s 15” laptop brief is teeming with pockets, zippers and compartments. The defining feature of the Judge is STM’s trademarked SlingTech technology, which not only guards your digital device but also suspends it above the bottom of the bag, where laminated dual density foam keeps it away from the impact zone. The briefcase also features the innovative Cable Ready cable-routing system that keeps you connected with cords conveniently stowed out of the way. https://www.stmgoods.com/

1 Voice NYC Backpack - Get your student ready for school with the 1 Voice Backpack. This innovative backpack will make busy days easier to manage. School is all about working hard, staying focused and being organized. The 1 Voice Backpack will make school semesters a little smoother. This wearable technology has a built-in 11,000mAH lithium-ion charger enough to recharge your phone 4 to 7 times! No more digging to the bottom of your backpack to find an item. This high-quality backpack has many compartments with easy access and is available in brown, navy blue, and black. http://www.1voicenyc.com

Beckmann Backpacks – I hadn’t heard of Beckmann Backpacks until this year and I’m impressed. These bags are full of pockets, straps and gear loops so that your child can stay organized while at school. The variety of colors and patterns allows kids to really express themselves. Beckmann, a Norway-based company, only makes school bags that are resilient and safe. http://beckmannofnorway.com/

The Ruck Backpack by Speck – I couldn’t believe this backpack is only $49.95. I’ll be equipping all my kids with one of these this fall because they are rugged, safe and look cool. The Ruck’s rear padded laptop sleeve holds up to a 15-inch laptop, and there’s extra space in the rear compartment for notebooks, books, and more. A second zippered compartment features a soft-lined tablet sleeve to secure and protect an iPad or e-reader. It also has pockets to store pens, charging cables, and a clip to keep your keys from getting lost. Best of all, the Ruck is backed by a three-year warranty. http://www.speckproducts.com/speck/backpacks/classic-ruck-backpack/SPKBP-RUCK.html

Tech Products You’ll Love this Fall

Varidesk Laptop 30 Standing Desk - This awesome standing desk will keep you moving all day and helps you stay loose. The compact design is perfect for any space and it is adjustable to accommodate many heights with its nine different height adjustments. The single, slim work surface is 30 inches wide, so it’s the perfect size for laptops or tablets. Best of all is that it’s fully assembled and ready to use right out of the box. https://www.varidesk.com

Mighty – I got so excited when I learned about Mighty because it really fills a gap in the music playing space. Mighty plays your Spotify music on-the-go without a phone. It works with Spotify Premium and pairs with Bluetooth headsets and speakers. It holds over a thousand songs and boasts a battery life of up to 5 hours. It’s also drop- and water-resistant. https://bemighty.com

Logitech MK850 – For years I’ve only been using Logitech keyboards. I find them to be comfortable, responsive and quiet. With the MK850 set, your keyboard won’t require new batteries for 36 months and your mouse stays powered for 24 months. You can connect wirelessly to your devices with Logitech Unifying USB receiver or pair via Bluetooth.The best part is that you can flawlessly switch from typing on your computer to your tablet with the touch of a button and the mouse pairs with up to 3 devices for seamless multi-tasking. Only $99.99 at https://logitech.com

Friday, May 05, 2017

Bang & Olufsen's Stylish New Speaker Cluster Impresses

A few years ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, I was invited to a small demonstration of Bang & Olufsen's new speaker. There were about half a dozen of us seated in the small room with twice as many B&O representatives eager to impress us with their Danish company's latest, greatest product. When the music was triggered my ears experienced something they never had before. The sound was truly amazing on a level I'd never experienced previously. At the end of the demonstration I asked how much a pair of these gorgeous speakers cost. When I was told I could have two for $85,000 (US), I thought I misheard the representative through his thick accent. Nope. That was the cost of the BeoLab 90s and I was left trying to think of the type of audiophiles who invested this much money in their speakers.

Fast forward to late March when I found myself on a guided tour of Bang & Olufsen's factory in the outskirts of Denmark. Aha, I thought to myself. I figured out how this company gets away charging as much as it does for its speakers. The craftsmanship, attention to detail and the number of PhDs contributing to the perfect sound quality all combine to make these the most impressive (and, yes, expensive) speakers on the market.

Courtesy: Bang & Olufsen

I was impressed with Bang & Olufsen's new BeoSound Shape speakers, which were unveiled to our group of tech writers (mostly European) the night before the tour of the aluminum factory and sound lab. However, what really impressed me was the commitment of the engineers to build a beautiful speaker (over the course of four years of development) that transcends the listener to another place. Such was the case with the new BeoSound Shape because they were setup in such a way to fill the room with music in a flawless fashion.

The unique quality of the BeoSound Shape speakers is its ability to be customized for ultimate sound quality. They are cool to look at over the sofa or conference table, but the most spectacular aspect is the sound that emanates from these colorful pentagon shaped speakers. The high quality fabric covers come in ten different colors, including exclusive wool fabrics from Kvadrat, Europe's leading manufacturer of design textiles. The Shape is controlled with the BeoSound Core connectivity hub, which lets you stream music directly from your phone or tablet via Chromecast built-in, Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth.

The BeoSound Shape will be available in August and as with most of B&O's speakers it will not be for the faint of heart. Figure standard setup will cost around $4,245 (US) and that's just for a few of these speakers. Had I not seen the factory in Denmark where B&O makes its magical sound products with my own eyes (and ears), I would still be scratching my head at their hefty price tags. Such is the price one pays for precise, crisp audio on a completely different level.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Israel's 7 Day Baseball Miracle of 2017

In the foyer of my home hangs a large piece of art featuring the most successful Jewish baseball players of all time. Most die-hard Jewish baseball fans would struggle to name every player in the rendering and there aren’t even enough uniformed players in the group to field a full roster. However, for seven days in March, young Jewish baseball fans like my 13-year-old son could name the entire starting lineup of Team Israel. This underdog group of a few former major leaguers and career minor leaguers took the baseball world by storm going undefeated in the first round of the World Baseball Classic.

This team made up of all Jewish players (at least one grandparent would suffice) and a few actual Israelis was unique. Some referred to them as the United States JV squad, but as Team Israel player Nate Freiman wrote in a Player’s Tribune article, “The Mensches of March,” these guys wouldn’t even make that team if it existed. Freiman beautifully summed up what this experience meant for him, his teammates and Jewish baseball fans around the globe. “So there we were, flying high and talking nonstop about whether they’ll make a movie about us someday.” Someone even suggested calling the movie “Jewsiers,” a play on the popular mid-1980s film “Hoosiers” about Indiana high school basketball. The team that had to get batting practice from local coin-operated batting cages before the World Baseball Classic began somehow became a miracle team during those seven days of March.

Israel Baseball Team with Mensch on the Bench 2017

From the team’s iconic large stuffed “Mensch on a Bench” doll to their decision to exchange their baseball caps for team yarmulkes during the playing of Israel’s national anthem before games, Team Israel became a source of pride for the Jewish community in the days surrounding the holiday of Purim, remembered as a miraculous triumph over a wicked persecutor who sought to exterminate the Jewish people. (Freiman compared the team’s success with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, albeit a seven day miracle instead of eight.) I was curious about how this team of MLB has-beens and never-will-bes embraced their Jewish heritage and represented Israel, a country many of them had never visited. I also wanted to know if the team experienced any anti-Semitism or criticism for representing Israel, the little nation that so many love to vilify. I had the opportunity to talk to Peter Kurz, the President of the Israel Association of Baseball, and ask him about the making of this Jewish baseball team that was compared to the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team.

First of all tell me a little bit about your role with Team Israel and how you got involved with the team?

Peter Kurz: For the past 4 years I’ve been the President of the Israel Association of Baseball and before that I was the Secretary General of the IAB for 8 years. So obviously when I came down to get a general manager for team Israel 5 years ago for the qualifiers, the president at the time said you’re the only one left standing so you might as well be it. So I started right away and I’ve been in that position ever since and I’m very happy with it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

GoPro, Wedit & DIY Wedding Videos

There was a time when having videographers at your wedding was a really expensive endeavor. The professional video guys would haul in the big rig cameras with special lighting and boom microphones. They would record hours of raw footage and then you'd wait more than six months for the edited VHS tape to arrive. After paying thousands of dollars you had a video with cheesy titles overlaid on poor quality footage that you'd never watch more than once (especially if you never converted it to DVD or a digital file).

Today, couples have many more options to preserve their big day. With the growing popularity of GoPro cameras, many couples begin their wedding experience by recording their engagement using a GoPro. These small cameras can easily be attached to the forehead or chest, or held on a long selfie stick to capture the intimate moment of a marriage proposal. Rather than having a friend come along to video the proposal or hiring a professional, the GoPro maintains the intimacy of the moment while still allowing it to be captured for posterity.

Brides and grooms have also recognized that a videographer only captures so many hours of the wedding weekend. If a video crew is hired for the ceremony and reception, they won't have any footage from the rehearsal dinner or those special moments at the after-party. There are also many wonderful moments that will be missed with only one or two camera operators at the wedding. When GoPro cameras are distributed to random guests and they're asked to capture as much footage as they can throughout the weekend, you're sure to get some quality moments that otherwise would have been missed.

A GoPro is a POV (point of view) camera meaning that it shows exactly what the person wearing it sees. That gives a different perspective than traditional wedding videos which are taken from static tripods or on the shoulder of a videographer. The aerial advantage points and wide-angle shots will lead to a unique finished product. There are also features on the GoPro like time-lapse video that will let the guests have fun while recording. Some find the footage from a GoPro to be nauseating due to the bounciness, but GoPro's Karma Grip fixes that with its stabilization ability. Encouraging guests to pass the GoPro cameras to each other will guarantee many different points of view throughout the weekend and allow the wedding couple to see their event through their guests' eyes. It is also fun to plant GoPros around the wedding ceremony and reception (they can be hidden in the flowers of a wedding bouquet or at the bar) to give a fun perspective on the event.

As a rabbi who officiates a lot of weddings I have seen a trend toward DIY videography. In some cases, it's a coordinated activity like giving out several GoPro cameras, but in other cases, it's the guests doing what they do naturally -- using their mobile phones to record video and take photos of the wedding. Many brides and grooms have told me that it's not a matter of cost, but they realize there will be so many wannabe Steven Spielbergs in the crowd that they are confident they'll get enough cellphone footage that they don't need to spend any extra funds on professional videographers.

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Best Tech of CES 2017

It's now March which means that the annual CES, which took place two months ago, is a distant memory for many attendees. However, I like to compile my annual roundup of the best tech products at this time since many of the more innovative and eye catching products are now available to consumers. Sure, it's fun to see all the futuristic prototypes and Kickstarter products on display at CES, but what techies really look forward to is being able to purchase these products for the home and office.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the annual tech convention in Las Vegas and it was the best one yet. There was a lot of cool technology at this year's CES, but some of it is still years away from being a reality. In this annual roundup I take a look at the products that will improve your life, make you more productive and make your friends envious. From a robot that moves around your home projecting movies onto your wall to a pillow that will help you stop snoring and countless devices that interact with Amazon Alexa, let's look at this year's Best of CES:

Top Products

Huawei Mate 9 (US Edition) - Once again the Chinese company Huawei impressed the CES crowd with its line of beautiful, fast and intuitive technology. Its US version of the Mate 9 mobile phone was unveiled too oohs and aahs. This slim design combined with an amazing camera,  Kirin 960 processor, intelligent Machine Learning algorithm and impossibly long batter life make this the phone that beats Apple and Samsung. huawei.com/us

Cerevo Tipron Robot - Seeing robots at CES is nothing new, but most of these robots are cost prohibitive for the average consumer. Cerevo, a consumer electronics developer and creator, recently launched Tipron. This transforming, Internet connected projection robot is still pricey at $2,299, but think of all the friends you'll be able to impress with your own robot at your home. Tipron turns all the walls, floors and ceilings in your home into 80 inch HD screen displays, providing a new experience for visual media consumption. The robot automatically moves around your home projecting visual content on a wall or ceiling in your house at a designated time and day as if they are tuned into displays. It's operated with a dedicated smartphone app. tipron.cerevo.com

Monster Vision Action Sports Camera with RF Remote - Monster always goes all-in at CES and this year was no different. Monster Digital is a licensee of Monster, but a separate company that went public last year. Its new Monster Vision VR camera is a fully-featured virtual reality camera with a full complement of accessories that allows video content creators and consumers to create incredibly lifelike 360 degree immersive VR video experiences in HD quality. It's ideal for sports enthusiasts, travelers and content creators. I was shocked this VR camera is priced so low as it seems like it should be much more. monsterdigital.com

HiMirror Plus - At CES there's a lot of duplication so it's always refreshing to see something unique. HiMirror is the world’s first smart beauty mirror, offering beauty and health conscious individuals in-depth, personalized skincare analysis and product recommendations based not only on their evolving skin condition but also on local weather and other factors. It was unveiled at CES 2017 and the HiMirror Plus retails for $259 and the basic version is about $70 less. HiSkin, a revolutionary hand-held device providing a 360 degree analysis of your skin's condition, was also released recently. himirror.com

ZEEQ Smart Pillow - I never thought a pillow would be one of the most talked about products at CES. This smart pillow is designed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. So many people have problems with snoring and insomnia so a product like this makes sense as it fits a real need. The ZEEQ pillow by Rem-Fit encourages smarter sleep by monitoring and analyzing sleep cycles, responding to the data it collects and providing insights on how to improve sleep. It has supportive and adjustable memory foam and a durable Tencel pillow case. ZEEQ tracks your data on an app and shares suggestions based on your tracked nightly patterns and habits to improve overall sleep quality. shop.rem-fit.com/remfit-range/zeeq-pillow.asp


Amplifi HD Home WiFi Mesh Technology - Known for its strong WiFi system, Ubiquiti upped the ante by releasing a standalone mesh point at CES. Also, its standalone router can be paired with any third-party router to create a mesh network in any home. More than a common home router, this is truly the ultimate WiFi system. With turbocharged 802.11ac Wi-Fi, AmpliFi utilizes multiple self-configuring radios and advanced antenna technology to bring ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage to any home. amplifi.com

Atoms Garage Door Opener - Garage doors seem so archaic. They simply go up and down using a track and we control them with the simple press of a button from a handheld opener, the infrared button in our car or a keypad attached to the house. Atoms has created the first opener that is compatible with the IFTTT (If This Then That) platform, allowing users to connect the garage door opener to other industry leading connected home accessories including Amazon Echo, Nest Cam, WeMo and Phillips Hue. You can create recipes so you receive immediate email notifications when the garage door opens. You can control your garage door using a smartphone app from anywhere in the world. skylinkhome.com

LUTRON Caseta Wireless Smart Lamp Timer - Smart light controls were very popular at CES this year, but there were a few notable companies that have taken smart lighting to a new level. Lutron's affordable and easy-to-install Caseta Wireless system really lets your control every light in your home from an app or using Amazon Alexa, setting the scenes to fully automate your home's lighting. lutron.com

Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack - This device makes smart lighting and other smart home devices useful for everyone in the house by providing direct access that would otherwise require multiple apps. With Pop, you can simply control smart lighting and access your favorite playlists and radio stations. Imagine walking into your home everyday following a hectic schedule at the office to a relaxing environment of mood lighting, soothing music and the temperature adjusted just perfectly. logitech.com

Roku Ultra - With each passing month there are many more cord cutters who have gotten fed up with their monthly cable bill. Roku Ultra makes that transition even easier than with past Roku models with a fast quad-core processor and 802.11ac dual-band wireless. With smooth and responsive navigation and channels that launch quickly, you'll get amazing 1080p HD streaming. roku.com

Evolus 3 - Spring is just around the corner, which means it's time for some Spring cleaning and an opportunity to organize your electronics. Evolus 3 helps you organize your Apple devices using this dock. Its integrated intelligent charger provides sufficient power to your devices, including iPads. us.enbluetec.com

RemoBell Wireless Video Doorbell - Everyone talks about Ring because it was famously passed over by the sharks on Shark Tank. However, this newer wireless video doorbell options shouldn't be overlooked. This HD wireless video doorbell streams crystal-clear live video and audio feed via WiFi to your phone. With the app, you'll get push notifications and the videos will go to the Cloud. remocam.com

igloohome Smart Keybox - There's nothing worse than getting a call that someone needs to get access to your home, but is locked out. This can be a child, a parent, the babysitter or a housekeeper. igloohome's smart keybox allows home or property owners to grant access to visitors remotely via a mobile app and a PIN code or bluetooth key. The visitor or service provider then uses the code or key to retrieve keys or keycards from the keybox. lockbox.igloohome.co

Sandman Clock 4 - Palo Alto Innovation's streamlined alarm clock and device charging station is exactly what you need next to your bed. Some of the other USB charging station alarm clocks on the market aim too high with complicated mobile apps required just to dim the light on the clock. Sandman Clock's four USB ports let you keep all your gadgets charged at night. The clock's simple design means setup takes seconds and its display features easy to read, over-sized digits that auto-dim. Available in white or black. paloaltoinnovation.com

Portal WiFi Router - Anyone who lives in an apartment building or dormitory will tell you that WiFi can be very spotty. Portal is the fix for better WiFi connectivity in multi-unit apartments, dorms and small businesses performing up to 10 times faster than a conventional consumer router and delivering three times lower latency. Portal uses congestion management technologies to access additional airwaves. portalwifi.com


Pai Technology's CubeTastic and Ocean Pets - Video games have taken over our kids' lives so it's nice to see some techie educational games on the market. Pai Technology's CubeTastic is a puzzle cube that will remind parents of the Rubik's Cube, but it uses 3D augmented reality to guide kids through the puzzle. Ocean Pets lets kids create their own fish, scan them with their mobile device and then see them come to life with 3D augmented reality. Both products are inexpensive and intended for kids ages 3-12. pai.technology

Summer Infant Panorama - This remote control camera allows you to view the baby’s entire room with fluid 180 degree pan/tilt visibility. The nice feature is that you'll never have to physically adjust the camera, which could disrupt your sleeping baby. summerinfant.com

Onanoff BuddyPhones InFlight - I've been a fan of Onanoff's BuddyPhones for kids because they are the safest headphones option on the market for children. BuddyPhones InFlight feature a child-proof twist to change the decibels settings and the volume can easily be adjusted to three different settings with the lowest volume of 75db ideal for children with sensitive hearing. onanoff.com

Vusion House Racer - This fully interactive virtual reality drone is small enough to be controlled inside the house. Kids will go nuts flying this mini-drone through obstacle courses they designed themselves. The battery is small and requires recharging after less than eight minutes so it might be helpful to have some backup batteries on hand. Retails for only $179.99. explore-rise.com


Turntables - If you haven't noticed, Vinyl's back! In what might be the biggest retro comeback ever, record player's have become the audiophile's ideal way to listen to music. The two really impressive turntables on display at CES were the Crosley C200 Turntable and the Audio Technica AT-LP5 Turntable. Crosley's first direct drive turntable motor brings records up to speed quickly and smoothly. It's also equipped with a sharp Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge, adjusted to perfection. Audio Technica's version is sleek and boasts a high performance dual moving magnet stereo cartridge, which was designed specifically for this model. crosleyradio.com | audio-technica.com

Sadie Premium Headphones - Blue Microphones makes some dynamic audio products and these over ear headphones might be their best yet.  These are high-fidelity headphones with large, 50mm dynamic drivers perfectly matched to a 240mW built-in amplifier that turns any laptop, tablet or phone into a hi-fi system ($399.99 at bluemic.com/sadie).

Audeze iSINE In Ear Headphones - I was already familiar with Audeze's Planar Magnetic over ear headphones so I had a good feeling the in ear version would be impressive too. I was correct. This is the world's first in-ear planar magnetic headphones and they boast superior bass response (flat to 10Hz), and a wider soundstage than other in-ear designs. Designed and assembled at Audeze’s California factory with industrial style by BMW’sDesignWorks, they are individually matched to within ± 1dB. audeze.com

Bragi The Headphone - When I wear my Bragi wireless earphones I always think people are going to ask when I got hearing aids. Instead they ask me how I love my Bragi earphones because everyone's been talking about these. I love listening to music with Bragi's The Dash earphones, but they are costly so Bragi came out with The Headphone, which is available at a much more manageable $149 ($10 less than Apple's AirPods). The Headphone gets up to six hours of battery life per charge. bragi.com.

Bluetooth Speakers - There were a lot of really cool Bluetooth speakers on display at CES so it was difficult narrowing down the few that really stood out. I was impressed by the Kicker Bullfrog (kicker.com), which is costly at $399.95, but might be the most powerful portable speaker you'll find (and it's waterproof). This high-performance 2.1-channel audio system features two drivers and two passive subwoofers. The Lemon Technology Waterproof Solar Powered Speaker (lemon-california.com) is a powerful little guy. This is a solar-powered speaker that fits in your hand. It lasts up to 20 hours with just 7 hours of sunlight and includes voice recognition and connectivity for up to 3 devices. It's crazy how much sound comes out of the Soundcast VG1 Premium Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker (gosoundcast.com). It's designed ergonomically to fit in the palm of the listener’s hand and the angular design of the speaker emphasizes its ultra-portability and makes for an easy grab and go experience. The Altec Lansing LifeJacket 4 is yet another amazing Bluetooth speaker from Altec Lansing. This will be the ultimate party speaker this summer as it's portable, colorful and fun. It also emits impressive sound (alteclansing.com). The DryVibes Floating Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker is the low cost speaker you'll use in the pool and then take it with you to shower afterward. Its crystal clear sound and booming base will impress and the fact that it floats, has a microphone and is under $100 will make this a best seller (drycase.com). Tivoli Audio Pal BT - Tivoli's known for audio products that have high fidelity sound performance, but also look amazing with furniture grade woods. The Pal BT is environmentally friendly, has no memory, fully charges in about 3 hours and provides up to 16 hours of cordless playback with FM and AM radio reception and an auxiliary input. It comes in red, white, blue and black and is priced at only $199.99. The Nyne Rock (nyne.com), at 12 pounds, is heavier than other portable models, but blasts 65 watts of power with two active drivers, tweeters and subwoofer. The Rock features a hidden carrying handle, built-in rechargeable battery that provides up to eight hours of playtime and universal AC adapter with four interchangeable worldwide plugs.


Logitech G231 Prodigy Keyboard & G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse - Logitech is the industry standard for keyboards and mice, so it only makes sense that it would make the best gaming peripherals. The Prodigy keyboard features a sleek, spill-resistant design that is comfortable and durable. An integrated palm rest and adjustable feet let you set your keyboard to the ideal position. The wired/wireless gaming mouse features a lightweight, ergonomic design and the world’s most advanced gaming mouse sensor. logitech.com

GameSir G3s Gamepad - This multi-platform portable game controller is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, and PS3. It features a high-speed 32-bit MCU chip for the highest gaming sensitivity and accuracy. With double shock vibration and a rechargeable battery that lasts 18 hours of play time, the G3s Gamepad is perfect for wireless play while traveling (just connect via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet). At only $39.99 it's the must-have controller for all gamers. gamesir.hk


Lattis Ellipse Bike Lock - I had actually been looking for a bicycle lock that could be controlled by a mobile device and just happened upon the Lattis Ellipse at CES. This is a smart bike lock with a theft alert, keyless entry and a built-in solar panel that automatically charges the battery. You can lock and unlock with a tap of your phone. lattis.io

Motus Baseball - Major League pitchers and hitters are all using Motus to track their performance and now anyone can too. An interactive bullpen analyzes consistency and deception while identifying flaws across pitch types and for hitters, during BP mode, analysis is conducted in the nine hot-zones and feedback is provided for hitting work in areas of weakness. Detailed metrics, video and interactive tools allow players and coaches the ability to customize programs and train smarter than ever. The UCL workload monitor is used by 27 MLB teams and is the first tool aimed specifically at combating UCL tears that lead to Tommy John Surgery. motusglobal.com


Navdy Head-Up Display (HUD) - This is the future of driving. The Navdy connects your phone to your car in ways only dreamed of before. Now you can stay connected to your network, your car and the road ahead. With Navdy, you can control music, answer calls with a swipe, have it read your texts, email, Facebook and Whatsapp, and more. It's the safest way to use your phone while driving and its price has been reduced to $499. navdy.com

Magellan MiVue 420 - Dash cameras are still more popular outside the United States, but they are gaining popularity. I love Magellan's MiVue and the latest version is its best yet. The 420 has a 2.7" display, receives audible and visual warnings for potential driving hazards, and is intuitive. All events are recorded in Super HD and you can record hours onto the included 8GB microSD Card. A G-Shock sensor locks video recording upon impact and saves location and time information for an accurate record of events. magellangps.com

Vava Dash Cam T1 - This top of the line dash cam that records all driving reliably had a successful Kickstarter campaign and is available for preorder. Like the Magellan models it uses G-Shock sensor lock. It also has permanent emergency recordings and a power-bank to keep it on standby even when the car is off. Vava's provides crystal-clear footage in 1080p HD whether it's day or night. With the mobile app you can seamlessly review and transfer footage without SD cards or cables. promo.vavachallenge.com


Cotton Carrier Harness System 2 - Even though everyone now carries an HD camera in their pocket, serious photographers forgo using their phones and use actual DSLR cameras. Cotton Camera Carrier Systems lets these photographers keep their cameras secure and accessible with the Harness system. Its patented Twist & Lock quick release camera mount keeps equipment safe from thieves. cottoncarrier.com

iKlip Grip PRO - It's important to know that IK Multimedia's iKlip Grip PRO is not a selfie stick. This large-grip, compact multifunctional iPhone and camera stand has an integrated detachable Bluetooth shutter control that is really 4 accessories in one: super secure tabletop tripod, large-grip video handle, monopod handle and standard tripod adapter. ikmultimedia.com


YI Dome Camera - With a 1080p 360 degree panoramic view in HD resolution and with pan-tilt control, this indoor security camera is a must for monitoring a baby. Truly one of the best cameras with motion tracking, baby crying detection, two-way audio/video and flexible storage options, YI Dome is a bargain at only $79.99. yitechnology.com

Zmodo’s Torch Pro - Zmodo’s monitoring solution for the front porch consists of a color-changing lightbulb with an embedded camera and a doorbell accessory. You can change the light’s color, answer the door, receive motion alert clips, and record to the cloud with the intuitive mobile app. zmodo.com

Lima Smart & Private Cloud Storage Device - When it comes to security, we usually think about alarm systems and cameras. However, we need to keep our personal files safe too. Lima Smart allows you to store your files directly to your Lima device. Only you will have physical access to them. Your devices are authenticated during the pairing process with your Lima device and your account. meetlima.com

sfty Sense - This CES Innovation Award honoree is a complete home safety unit, including a smoke detector and a motion detector. Also, sfty Sense measures temperature and humidity in the room. It comes with a Wi-Fi card,enabling it to reach you and others over the internet through the mobile app. sfty.com

Geko Smart Whistle - A CES Innovations Awards Honoree, this remarkable device is the world’s first Smart Whistle. With GPS tracking and Bluetooth technology, this monumental tool can alert your loved ones instantly when you are in need of help. The WISO app lets you select the contacts you wish to notify when in need of assistance and to activate your SOS alerts, simply blow on the mouthpiece or press on your Smart Whistle’s button for two seconds. mygekogear.com


Polar Fitness Tracker M600 - I've tried so many fitness trackers and am convinced this technology still has a way to go. However, I was very impressed with Polar's M600. This Android Wear is waterproof, has Polar's unique Smart Coaching feature and comes with Polar Flow -- an online window to your training, activity and sleep, which is available on both mobile and desktop. The M600 is compatible with Android and iOS and has strong battery life. polar.com

Chronos - A lot of people want the innovative functions in a smartwatch,  but don’t want to give up their favorite timepiece. Chronos instantly adds smartphone capabilities to any watch. The quarter-size disc attaches to the back of any watch in seconds and lets you enjoy features like step tracking, music control, notifications and alerts. The nice part about this is that it can easily be switched between watches, giving you the freedom to mix-and-match. At only $99.99, this is quite the bargain.  wearchronos.com


i-BLADES Elite Smartcase with Enviro Sensor - A CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree, i-Blades is a next generation phone case with built-in smart technology that lets users add new functions to smartphones. This slimline phone case lets you upgrade smartphone performance by easily snapping on/snapping off Smartblades. It can double smartphone battery life, increase memory by 284GB, provide health and wellness solutions as well as on-the-go entertainment and enable VR with a portable, foldable headset.

Lynktec Apex Fusion Fine Point Active Stylus - This fine point stylus pen is optimized to work with all iOS and many popular Android devices. It's ideal for those who choose handwritten notes over typing on their tablet or phone. lynktec.com

Penclic Mouse D2 - A Scandinavian designed computer mouse, Penclic is a more comfortable and precise way to use a mouse. It feels just like using a pen. penclic.se

Livescribe Smartpen 3 Black Edition - Described as more useful than either a stylus or a pen, the Smartpen 3 uses your smartphone or tablet’s microphone to record audio that’s synchronized to everything you write on paper. You can even search your handwritten notes and convert what you write into digital text with amazing accuracy. Once your notes are in the Livescribe+ mobile app, you can organize, tag, play back audio and send/share notes to any of the devices you use. You'll never know how you lived without this. livescribe.com

Prynt Mobile Printer for iPhone - How many of your camera pics actually get printed? Prynt is a case that connects directly to your smartphone and allows you to print your digital photos instantly in a Polaroid-sized format. It even enables you to relive those photo moments in augmented-reality video and you can share those images with friends and let them see the short videos embedded in the photos too. It's small enough to fit in your other pocket allowing you to always print on the go. prynt.com

Cujo - Your home is full of smart devices, but most are not protected by an antivirus making your home a target for cyber criminals. CUJO secures everything from smartphones and laptops to TVs and baby monitors. You'll have piece of mind that all your mobile devices are secure. getcujo.com


Tylt Energi Pro Power Backpack - Not only is this a really nice looking backpack that is comfortable to wear, it is also the only bag that can provide a full charge to your phone, tablet and your USB-C laptop. The 20,800 mAh battery is included in this light grey bag with more zippered pockets (12 internal) than even the busiest traveler would ever need. Worth every penny of its $179.99 price tag. tylt.com

Kanex GoPower Watch Portable Battery for Apple Watch - A CES Innovation Award honoree, this cordless portable charging solution for the Apple Watch is ideal for the traveler who wants a simple solution for charging their watch on the road. It's an Apple certified magnetic charging dock uses the same inductive charging connector that comes with the Apple Watch. Only $99.95. kanex.com

IOGEAR Thunderbolt 2 KVM/Docking Station - A CES Innovation Award honoree, the ultra-sleek Thunderbolt 2 lets you transition from your home office to work on the road without the typical headaches. It connects up to two Thunderbolt 2 enabled computers and switches between them with the push of a button. Turning your travel laptop into a high performance workstation. iogear.com


MOCACuff Blood Pressure Cuff - Health Tech is a major industry, especially as the Baby Boomer generation ages older than previous generations. This stylish FDA-approved wireless blood pressure monitor fits comfortably on the wrist and is comfortable to wear. Without sacrificing accuracy, MOCACuff makes it easy to incorporate blood pressure monitoring into your everyday routine and receive instant, actionable insights to improve your health. Priced at $69.99. mocacare.com

AliveCor Kardia Mobile - It was only a matter of time until consumers were able to capture medical-grade EKGs anywhere and anytime. In only 30 seconds this device, which is smaller than a credit card, can record an EKG through a mobile device and then can be relayed to a physician for analysis and diagnosis. Kardia Mobile allows you to easily track palpitations, shortness of breath, dietary habits, sleep and exercise patterns for under $100. alivecor.com

Beddit Sleep Tracker - Anyone with a fitness tracker knows that its sleep tracking is not the most accurate feature. Beddit focuses on sleep tracking so you can learn why you sleep well some nights and horribly on other nights. This device, which is hidden under your sheets, provides accurate tracking for one or two individuals in the same bed. With Beddit, you can find out if you are snoring or at what point in the night your partner begins to snore. It has a smart alarm clock too so you can wake up refreshed at the right time. beddit.com

Yunmai Color Smart Scale - Yunmai's smart body composition scale evaluates physical condition and keeps track of body statistics through the mobile app. It records all the body statistics you need to be aware of your physical health, such as weight, fat, Body Mass Index, muscle, visceral fat, bone mass, water, basal metabolic rate, body age and protein. The scale includes four high precision pressure sensors and human body sensors to provide an accurate reading. It comes in many color options and retails for only $66.95. iyunmai.us

Sen.se thermoPeanut Smart Wireless Thermometer - Winner of a 2017 CES Innovation Award for Most Innovative Product, this smart thermometer lets you check the current temperature or history. Using it in your home, you can save 9% on your heating bill for each three-degree Fahrenheit that you lower your heating setpoint. You can also use it to determine the temperature of food, the baby's room, or your fridge. The mobile app provides real time alerts if it gets too hot or too cold. sen.se/store/thermopeanut

QardioArm - This wireless blood pressure monitor measures your systolic, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and has irregular heartbeat detection. FDA approved, QardioArm’s elegant and compact design lets you take it anywhere. You can set goals and reminders, track irregularities or perform triple measurement averaging. The mobile app enhances its functionality with useful features like comparing your results against the World Health Organization chart. All results are stored automatically in Qardio’s secure, HIPAA compliant cloud. getqardio.com

Airthings Wave Smart Radon Detector - Airthings unveiled its smart radon detector at CES Unveiled this year. The device provides consumers with critical, potentially life-saving information on indoor air quality, accessible via phone or tablet. Radon exposure claims the lives of approximately 21,000 Americans each year, which is more than six times the number of deaths attributed annually to house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning combined. The Wave changes the way radon is measured by using digital sensors and smart home technology. airthings.com

Omron EVOLV Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor - I first saw this health device at the 2016 CES when it was called Project Zero. It's now ready for consumer sales and called EVOLV. Nearly 80 million Americans are diagnosed as hypertensive so it's imperative people are able to take their own blood pressure and keep a record of it. This is a portable blood pressure monitor with medical-grade accuracy. Without any wires or a tabletop unit, it's convenient to take with you. omronhealthcare.com