At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: Anker Astro E1

Six Boring Tech Gifts They’ll Love Getting

This could very possibly be the worst list of gift ideas you’ll ever read. But I believe these five ugly ducklings will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

This could very possibly be the worst list of gift ideas you’ll ever read. But I believe these five ugly ducklings will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

While everyone looks for the latest and greatest tech gifts to buy, I’m thinking you should take a few moments and consider the opposite side of that equation.

Don’t give your friends and loved ones what they want.
Get them what they really need… even if they don’t know it!
And sometimes, it might be a duplicate of what they’ve already got!
But get this… they’ll still thank you for it!

Worried that your gifts are boring?
I say stop worrying!
These could be the six-best uninspired tech gifts you’ll ever give…

Smartphone Wall Charger
How many times a week does someone run up to you in a panic and ask if you’ve got a smartphone charger to use for a few minutes?


I’m not sure what that says about our high-tech society, but apparently much of our tech-enabled planet is always about eleven minutes away from running out of juice…

I’m sure most of your friends would be very pleased to have an extra smartphone wall charger to leave at work.
(So their device doesn’t have to take a mid-afternoon siesta)

Anker can sweeten the deal with a 2-port USB wall charger…








Portable Power
Or perhaps consider a portable battery charger to get for that someone special.
They can carry it around whenever their mobile tech needs a little pick me up.
(I know… how romantic)







Extra Memory for Your Camera
How about a spare SD card for a camera?
(Don’t you always need one of these at exactly the wrong time?)








  • I just picked up an extra SanDisk Extreme 32GB SDHC UHS-1 Card.
    $10.62 on Amazon

When Martians land in your backyard, your family should be ready to capture the moment!

Portable Storage
Some people can never have enough shoes.
Others like to collect memorabilia.
I prefer lots of storage opportunities for my media. Remember, if a digital photo file or home video doesn’t live in at least two or three separate devices/locations, it essentially doesn’t exist.
(I know… that’s deep Tech-Zen to consider)

So I say there’s always a use for another portable drive.








Sure, that may seem a little pricey spending almost $200 on a portable drive.
But wait a minute…
That’s less than two Franklins for three whopping terabytes!

After that, I think you’re done.
It’s a no brainer when it comes to having enough storage in one device.

Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
I recently had to retire my old Oral-B electric toothbrush, because its non-replaceable battery couldn’t hold a charge anymore.

When I reviewed the newer Oral-B options online, I was overwhelmed with all of the choices. After a little research, I focused on these two models:

The reviews I read zeroed in on the ‘3000’ model as offering the best Oral-B brushing experience without all of the frills and cost of higher-end models.

That said, the ‘5000’ model is actually about the same price on Amazon.
(It was originally more expensive…)

And it’s got a longer-lasting battery and a battery indicator that gives you a better sense how much energy is left…

(Note… I’m not specifically interested in its Bluetooth functionality that can connect to an app on your smartphone… I just want to brush my teeth… not make it a big fitness-tracking project!)

So I bought the Oral-B Pro 5000, and it’s been great.








Yeah, I know it’s just a toothbrush… and who would ever think of buying someone a electric toothbrush as a present?

Just offering ideas.
Trying to be helpful.
Let’s move on…

Seltzer Maker
I have a confession to make…
I am officially overwhelmed by all of the empty seltzer bottles and cans at home. My family just loves seltzer!
(Especially our six-year-old son)

The by-product of all of this consumption is all of the recycling of plastic bottles and metal cans. And that requires ongoing trips to the supermarket to visit the picky recycling machines… Which may… or may not… accept your offerings.
(Sometimes you’ve got the wrong ‘brands.’ Other times, the labels are damaged beyond recognition. Occasionally, the machines just say “NO”… for no good reason.)

I say it’s time to stop the madness and just make your own seltzer.
(No more seltzer can/bottle-recycling hassle… Plus it’s good for the environment. And it’s cheaper in the long run.)

When I checked out SodaStream, there were seemingly a zillion models to choose from.
(I hate that.)

But the SodaStream ‘Fizzi’ appears to be the go-to model. It’s sold with a CO2 carbonator, which you can replace with a new one when it runs out of gas. And it comes with a reusable BPA-free plastic bottle…








Make someone happy with some bubbly water.
There are worse things you could do!

The Secret to Good Gift Giving

Whether you’ve got twenty bucks to spend or two hundred, there’s a boring tech gift you can give that shows how much you care.

It’s not about the razzle-dazzle.
It’s about supporting the day-to-day.

‘Cause a lot of life is about getting through the day… hopefully with a little smile on your face.

And tech is supposed to make that a little easier.

If you can support that simple equation, however uninspired, you’re going to be a rock star.

Cheap Portable Power to Feed Your Smartphone

goes for your tech… and your smartphone. If you can keep it going all day, that takes it a long way to “happy.” Can the Anker Astro E1 power stick do the job in a pinch? Let’s find out!

Happy Vs. Not Happy. That’s much of what life boils down to, right? And so it goes for your tech… and your smartphone. If you can keep it going all day, that takes it a long way to “happy.” Can the Anker Astro E1 power stick do the job in a pinch? Let’s find out!

My 83-year-old father likes to keep up… technologically speaking. Every time we have dinner together, he pays attention to each piece of tech I’m carrying. And then he invariably decides he wants to get it for himself.

One day as we were having tea after dinner, I checked my email and realized I needed a little more juice for my iPhone. So I pulled out a tiny battery-driven ‘Innergie’ charger out of my briefcase.
(I don’t use a Mophie Juice Pack battery case for my iPhone 6 Plus only due to size considerations. The Plus is bulky enough in my pants pocket!)

“What’s that?” my dad asked.

“Oh, this? It’s just a rechargeable battery to help out my iPhone.”

“Do I need one of those?”

“I don’t know. Do you?”

Power Sticks are a Must
Well, you can imagine how the conversation went from there. Before I knew it. I was on the hook for helping him figure out which portable charger to get.
No big deal…

These little power sticks are everywhere. Like little sticks of gum. I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult to quickly choose one for my dad.

And in fact, I’ve been somewhat consumed in recent years by how to generate my own power, especially if I’m off the grid…

So where’s the harm spending a little more time on this mini obsession…?
(But not too much time)

Anker Astro E1
So it wasn’t a big deal to simply go to Amazon, type in ‘portable smartphone charger’ and see what quickly rose to the top.

It was the Anker Astro E1.
(self described as ‘The Candybar-Shaped Powerpack’)

19.99 at Amazon
That’s so cheap!
It’s highly reviewed- 4.7 stars.
And it comes in multiple colors- black/blue/white.

The E1’s capacity is 5200 mAh
(Which can charge an iPhone one to two times)

The truth is there are plenty of other choices, and I’ve always liked my own Innergie ‘battery bank,’ power stick but I must admit I didn’t do much more competing research.
(Okay… None.)

The Anker seemed just fine for what it was.


Powering Up Takes Time
But when I opened up the box, the Astro E1 seemed more than just fine…
I was pleasantly surprised by its sleek black design, its practical, spongy carrying bag, and an enigmatic little card at the bottom of the box.
(More on this in a moment)

My father will love the Astro E1… if he ever ends up using it!

A word of minor caution:

  • A 1-amp iPhone charger is supposed to take 5 hours to charge the Astro E1.
    That said, I spent more than 6 hours charging mine before I packed it in to go to bed. So think of it as needing an overnight charge…
    (Anker of course sells its own charger, which does the job much faster.)
  • Don’t forget you’ll need buy/provide a separate USB cable to connect the Anker.
    (The Astro E1 doesn’t come with one.)

Happy/Not Happy?
Remember that little card in the bottom of the Anker box?

There was a “Happy?” on the front with a little icon for the sun.
And “Not Happy?” on the back with a rain cloud.

Hmmm. What was this?
I was simultaneously confused and invigorated.

What was I supposed to do with this card?

I quickly imagined I could have hundreds of these little cards and carry them with me as I moved about my life, placing them in choice locations to reflect my experience.

After attending a two-hour meeting that was scheduled for only one, I would get up and leave a card behind, positioned appropriately to display my sentiment.

“Barrett, you forgot this ca….. Oh. Oooh.”

Or when I leave a movie theater after watching a great flick… I would deposit one on my seat with the right side up.
(That’s far more polite than leaving behind an explosion of popcorn, right?)

I wasn’t immediately sure what Anker had in mind with the Happy/Not Happy card, but I liked it!

Then I realized the card actually opened up…
And inside it invited me to share my happiness online or how to reach customer service should I have a frown on my face.

Of course.
(Now I felt I needed a ‘Silly/Embarrassed’ card.)

Survey Says…
All right, then.

So they say money can’t buy you happiness.
But sixteen bucks for the Astro E1?


%d bloggers like this: