Recently in Consumer Electronics

I haven't updated my iPhone X to iOS 12.1 yet because it includes the controversial battery performance feature for 2017 handsets. At some point I will update, but not until I've thought about this a bit more.


My understanding from Tim Cook and Apple was that the advanced hardware in the iPhone X would not require iOS battery performance management. Based on what we see in iOS 12.1, that isn't the case.


All of this may be moot for me anyway. A year ago, I decided to learn more about taking care of my iPhone battery, using the new handset as a fresh start for a different approach. In the article, A New Way to Charge My Smartphone, I outlined the basic changes I was making. Essentially, I no longer leave the phone plugged-in at night, opting instead to top it off during the day when it's around 50 percent.

In part, this became easier thanks to the Samsung Qi Certified Wireless Charger Pad I keep on my desk at the studio. I just plop the iPhone X on it, and refreshing the battery is easier than ever.


So now, a year later, how did my grand experiment work? It appears quite well. I checked my Battery Health (Settings > Battery > Battery Health) to see that my Maximum Capacity is at 97 percent. It also reads that the battery can support normal peak performance. Great news!

My "new way" to recharge my phone has become second nature. How big of an impact on my battery health does this approach have? There's no way for me to know without running a side-by-side test. But after a year of rigorous use, I'm happy with 97 percent.

It will be interesting to see what battery health is in November of 2019.

As for the update to iOS 12.1. I'm going to sit tight for just a little while to see if Apple responds to the criticism about adding performance management for its 2017 handsets. Through future updates, they may add further enhancements to the tool that might make it a bit more appealing. My understanding is that I can turn it off if I wish. But something a bit more refined other than a binary "on or off" approach would be even better.

One final note on the iPhone X - Over the last year, it has performed very well. Battery life is excellent, and I seldom find myself below 25 percent. The camera is wonderful, as is its overall responsiveness. I really like it.

If I can continue to maintain good battery health with this handset, I can see me using it for quite a long time. And in this era of disposable devices, that would make me very happy.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Think about the things that you might want from a portable power pack while on a roadtrip. A unit light enough to toss in your bag while on hike would be good. A powerful flashlight is always helpful on the road. But what if you returned to your car only to discover that the battery was dead because you left a light on? Wouldn't if be nice if your power pack was robust enough to jump the car? Meet the Cobra JumPack CPP 9000.

P7066255-JumPack-cables-1024.jpg The jumper cables plug into a special port on the JumPack. They can be left in the car while you carry the basic unit with you while on foot.

I know it sounds crazy, but it works. When the cables are connected to the JumPack, it has a 200 Amp starting current, with a 400 Amp peak current that can jump start most cars multiple times on a single charge. It uses a 7500 mAh Lithium-Cobalt battery and special circuitry to get this job done.

Yet, the JumPack is not much bigger than my iPhone X and weighs less than a pound. So I can carry it with me to power up my USB devices.

P7066267-JumPack-size.jpg The unit is light enough and compact enough to fit in your backpack or gear bag. Here it is next to my iPhone X.

For refueling USB devices, such as smartphones and tablets with the with the 5-Volt/9-Volt output port. All you have to do is plug the phone's USB cable into the JumPack, and it automatically starts charging it. You can use the device while it's connected to the power pack.

P7066249-JumPack-iphone-charge-v2.jpg Charging the iPhone X via the JumPack's 5-Volt/9-Volt port.

There's plenty of safety built-in as well. The JumPack is built to be compliant with safety standard UL 2743. Even when you're jumping the car, everything is protected via its cutoff circuitry. To jump a vehicle, connect the cables to the battery, then connect the JumPack. You'll first see a red LED indicating that it's verifying the connections. Then the light will turn yellow while it's transferring power to the battery. Finally, when the LED turns green, you can start the ignition.

P7066251-JumPack-ports.jpg Input and output ports, plus the LED flashlight.

The 500 lumen, high-intensity flashlight features strobe and SOS functions for emergency assistance. Hold the green button for 3 seconds to turn on the lamp, then cycle through the different functions by pressing the green button. The flashlight does work while you're charging a USB device, so both functions can be tapped simultaneously.

The JumPack includes a mini-USB cable that you can use for recharging the unit via any USB charger. In my testing, it took about 3 hours to refresh the JumPack from 25 percent to full charge, using an Apple 10 watt USB charger. The JumPack will hold its juice for 8 months. So it you have it stored in an emergency kit, I would top it off twice a year.

P7066268-JumPack-in-bag.jpg The JumPack kit includes the power unit, USB cable, jumper cables, and a bag that holds everything.

The Cobra JumPack CPP 9000 is available directly from the Cobra website for $129. It's powerful enough to start a V8 engine, motorcycle, or boat. And it's light enough to slide into your camera bag. I'll definitely have it with me on my next roadtrip.

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The JumPack has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Two useful Type-C accessories that I discovered at CES 2018 for photographers on the go are the Kingston Nucleum ($79) and the LaCie's DJI Copilot ($349).

The Kingston Nucleum

P1082882.jpg The Kingston Nucleum connected to a new MacBook. Photo by Derrick Story.

The Kingston Nucleum allows you to connect your favorite USB devices, plus HDMI, SD cards, and microSD cards, all in one slim, portable, stylish hub. Five ports, two card readers, and no external power required.

Aside from the handsome design, I really like the quality of the cord and its two connecting ends, which are reinforced. This is a high performance accessory that should serve you well over the long haul. And it looks great beside your new laptop computer.

LaCie's DJI Copilot

Another USB-C device that may be of interest to photographers is LaCie's DJI Copilot.

P1082887.jpg LaCie's DJI Copilot. Photo by Derrick Story.

This portable USB-C device has some impressive features:

  • 2TB Storage Capacity
  • USB 3.1 Type-C Interface (interchangeable with other interfaces)
  • Integrated SD Card Reader
  • Directly Copy Files - No Computer Needed
  • Review Footage on Your Mobile Device
  • Backup Battery Pack for USB Devices
  • Integrated Status Screen
  • Manage and Organize Files
  • Drop- / Splash- / Dust-Resistant
  • Windows, Mac, iOS & Android Compatible

The big selling point here is that you don't need to bring your computer in the field to backup your camera's memory cards. The Copilot will take care of that by itself, and it will provide you with completion status on its integrated screen. So you know when it's safe to reformat the card.

You can also view your files in the field if you have a table device with you. The Copilot connects to iPads and other portables as well as the computer when you return home. And with its ample 2 TB of internal storage, you should be covered, even on extended shoots.

Additionally, I saw many other USB-C devices at CES, such as the Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD and the Western Digital 1 TB stick flash drive.

So, by combining the Nucleum for your existing peripherals and adding a new accessory or two, your new state-of-the-art computer becomes just a bit more friendly.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

CES Unveils the Connected Home

The theme at the first press event was clear: we're going to take every device you use at home and put a WiFi or Bluetooth radio in it. That was the scene last night at CES Unveiled, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

P1035844-CES-Unveiled-speaker.jpg A wireless speaker isn't that unusual, unless it's one that levitates. The Mars by Crazybaby. Photos by Derrick Story.

Common items such as hairbrushes, mirrors, dog collars, lighting, bicycles, and practically anything else you can think of can now talk to your smartphone or be connected to a home automation system.


Does this mean that this will be the entire focus of the show when it opens on Thursday? No, it won't. Each press event takes on its own theme. But I did find it interesting that the opening salvo was a home operated by tiny radios.

P1035821-CES-Unveiled-lighting.jpg Plenty of LED lighting options too, such as this unit by Luke Roberts Smart Lighting.

We'll see what today brings. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing what the auto makers show off, as well as digital imaging.

Join me on my Instagram site as I explore CES in Las Vegas.