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Dec 20,2007

Apparently you all REALLY wanted to know more about this Suunto Lumi watch :-)  Instead of answering the emails individually, we thought we would post the answers to the most frequently asked questions here.

  • Yes, this would make for a good Holiday present for your girl. 
  • No, she will not have to be an engineer to figure out how to work it. 
  • Yes, it will look "right" for work AND play. 
  • No, cutting the band to size is not a big deal.
  • Yes, it will fit a man's wrist...but you may want a different band.
  • No, you can't have this one.

Folks here will be taking it out for a spin over the next few weeks for the FirstLook/FirstUse tests.  We can already tell that they will have a lot to say about this Lumi.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Dec 19,2007

Tech gear design is pretty much gender-neutral.  OK...maybe totally skewed toward men, but we don't believe it was done intentionally.  Suunto decided it is time to do something about that.  In the creation of their new outdoors/adventure line, they paid design attention to gear for both men (Core) and women (Lumi).

The two different branches (Core, Lumi) share the same basic technologies, but the implementation and presentation are distinct.  We won't dive into their differences in this report, but will remark that everyone here LOVES the clean smart look of the Lumi.

We did not have time to check out any of the features of the watch, but we did have time to get some photos of it so you can get a better idea of the physical details. Click on any of the images below for a closer look at the Lumi. 

We'll have the FirstLook report at the start of the new year.  In the meantime, if you want to get your girl the latest in outdoor wrist-worn technology, head on over to the Suunto site and check out the Lumi. You might want to take a look at the Core while you are there... maybe you have been a good boy as well?  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Dec 12,2007

If you had always wanted to a portable digital camcorder like the one we made a few years back but never got around to putting one together, then you are in luck. Twenty20 has gone and shrunk all of the components in our BackpackCam into one tiny tapeless unit you can mount anywhere.

The difference between Twenty20's VholdR camera and everything else on the market is the VholdR is totally self-contained.  The unit is water/dirt proof, one button on/off, and totally digital.  There are no moving parts...just a lens, some electronics, and a case. Awesome!

When we see an innovative product from an up and coming group of folks, we like to give them the exposure they deserve. We will have our FirstLook of the VholdR in January. If you can't wait, then check out the preview from bikemag.com. 

To keep size down to a minimum, the VholdR stores its data on a microSD card.  This is the only other product we have seen besides the Smartphones to use this storage form factor.  Because of its compactness, the VholdR may be mounted virtually anywhere.  Twenty20 has created quite a few mounting options for the VholdR.  There should be one suitable for whatever activities (biking, skiing, motocross, etc...) you are into.

The first 500 off the line have already been spoken for! If you think the VholdR is for you, then you had better get your name on the waiting list- Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



Nov 29,2007

A flashlight bright enough to temporarily stun, yet small enough to carry with you every day?  We didn't believe it until we got a few of the SureFire units in house.  SureFire illumination tools ARE the finest in the world!

We have been using three of the SureFires for the past few years and they have performed amazingly well.  There are less expensive options out there, but when you want something you can depend on in all conditions, you can depend on SureFire.  We do. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



Nov 23,2007

We have a tradition here at the office tht we take a four-hour walk around the Charles River on Thanksgiving day before the big meal.  The temperature on some years had been in the teens, but yesterday it was a balmy 50º!

We love the walk because we do it at a time when most people are either home cooking or have left town.  The experience is unique because the city seems deserted and is eerily quiet.  Definitely the "calm" before the BlackFriday storm!

We post these images for you to enjoy should you need a refuge from the day-after Thanksgiving shopping crowds.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



Nov 8,2007

We have been using the Carson Spotting Scope quite a bit this Fall.  It is a great scope that travels well, but sometimes we want a scope that fits in our pockets.  The Naviscope is perfect pocket scope for all those times when you want to get close to the action without the bulk. 

This Carson Monocular is a ruggedized, compact unit, with a form fitting grip.  The mold is for a right hand fit, but it can be used with the left hand without any obstructions.

One additional feature of this Carson NaviScope is the built-in digital compass.  The read-out is internal and is activated by the button on the top of the scope.  When pressed, the direction is visible for a few seconds in the LCD display...a very cool and unique capability.

You do have to give up some features: the focus is fixed, there is no zoom capability, and it cannot be used with a tripod.  However, it is small enough that you can have it with you all the time.

If you had a view like this over Cambridge, wouldn't you want to check it occassionally?  Well, the Carson monocular will not only bring the view in closer, but it will also tell you in what direction you are looking. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



Oct 29,2007


Oct 25,2007

We turned the media room into a sports bar last night, and it will remain so for the duration of the World Series.  Three strikeouts and a leadoff homerun got the folks cheering early.  Both the 90" and the 60" screens were on for the game.

We don't expect to be posting much on the site until the series is over.   Everyone is going to kick back and enjoy the a break from writing about gadgets and just cheer the Sox on!

We'll see you back here when the series is over.  Of course, things will change if something really cool shows up at the loading dock... - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Oct 15,2007

This past weekend we took the Carson Spotting Scope for a FirstUse outing.  Mass Audubon has a preserve close to the office. We have been there a few times and knew it would be a good location to test out the scope.

It was just the start of Fall but the colors were already showing.  We hiked in for a bit and set up at one of the boardwalks looking out at the wetland.

The setup we took with us on the outing was the Carson BackCountry Spotting Scope mounted on the TrekPod.  We have been using the TrekPod every chance we had.  A few sharp-eye viewers noticed that we used it to support the Jason telescope we had with us in Maine.

The Carson scopes performed wonderfully in this FirstUse outing.  The controls were easy to use, the focus knob and zoom controls were smooth to operate.  The image had high contrast and was razor sharp.  The integrated sunshield came in very handy on this bright day. 

The Carson scope/TrekPod combo is a winner both in the backcountry as well as in the city (we stopped by Jamaica Pond on the way back to check out the ducks).  The pair is light to carry and quick to set up.  Perfect for bird watching anywhere/anytime.

The only thing we wish was better on the Carson was the lens cap.  It is a rubber cap, but the fit was loose.  We did not take it with us on the hike because we knew we would lose it.  Some kind of hinged cap may have been a better choice for a field scope.  However, this is a nitpicking point in an otherwise excellent product.  We look forward to taking out in a more extensive outing soon.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Oct 14,2007

Last July, we got one of our bird watching staff a pair of binoculars for her birthday.  We knew then it was the start of a never ending quest for sharper, more powerful optics to enable her to get ever closer (visually) to her feathery friends.

To temporarily satisfy this power lust, we will be equiping our bird watcher with a BackCountry Carson (SS-550) 15x-40x Zoom Spotting Scope. The Carson BackCountry Spotting Scope comes complete with the scope, eyepiece, tripod, and field bag. 

The scope has two position (45º and straight) for the eyepiece placement. The 45º placement is more comfortable for standing use while the straight through mode is more suitable for use in a prone position.  The zoom capability (14x-50x) is built into the eyepiece.

The scope collapses to 9" when not in use and is 11" when fully extended.  There is an integrated rubberized sunshade for glare control.

The metal tripod is sturdy, compact, and fits into a special compartment in the case.  For bird watching, though, a standing tripod is a more practical setup.

We have already taken this scope out for a field test.  How did it perform?   Interested readers will just have to keep an eye out for the FirstUse report coming later this month.  We are also working on some way to take some photos through the eyepiece of this scope.  If you have any idea, drop us a note.   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



Oct 4,2007

Those lucky enough to obtain Red Sox tickets for the first game of the Red Sox divisional playoff were treated to a great time last night at Fenway Park.  Beckett pitched as strong (maybe even stronger) last night than any time this season as he whipped a 4-0 shutout past the Angels.  It was a great start to what we hope to be an exciting post season.

There are still quite a few more games before another 2004 ending.  We'll just have to enjoy the ride.  We also need to equip our RainyDaySports reporter with somthing better than a camera phone (we were hoping to get live coverage).   The one on the Motorola RAZR just was not cutting it.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


Aug 28,2007

We discovered these Explorer Ops gloves back in 2005 and finally, after two years, we got our hands on a pair.  All we can says is we wish they came in adult sizes.  Lucky is the intrepid tyke who has these!

These kid-sized gloves come with seven essential tools for exploring the great outdoors.  Built into the index finger is an LED flashlight.  The On/Off button is at the edge of the compass.  On the other glove is a clock, a pair of tweezers, and a length of paracord.

The cover of the compass flips out to serve as a magnifying lens.  Our ten year old here suggested it would be great to have another lens so they could pair up as a telescope.  Seemed like a logical extension to us.

These amazing gloves came from the imagination of 10 year old Nathan Tung.  Nathan wanted to have all his gear handy when he was out exploring, so he "invented" these.  We wonder what Nathan is up to these days.   Our guess is that he probably has an internship at Eureka.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



Aug 22,2007

John S of LA sent these pics to us last week with a link to the EBay auction which ended on Aug 15th.  The auction was for this handcrafted monocycle by a craftsman in Spain.  The starting bid was $13K, but the auction ended with no bids.  Keep your eye out for it if you are interested, it will probably be listed again.

Check out the incredible gear works.  The low center of gravity makes riding this different than a typical bike.  We are pretty sure you will turn heads no matter where you pedal this cycle! - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



July 17,2007

Frequent travel is part of our job.  Sometimes we hop on a plane, but more often than not, we jump into the Boxster and head on out.  Our problem is not just what to pack, but which bag to pack?

Different folks here have their favorites, but the two bags I take most often are the Tom Bihn Aeronaunt and the Ego.  I take them because they are tough, great looking, and AMAZINGLY ROOMY. 

One thing I have noticed is I definitely tend to bring more stuff when I travel by car than when I fly.  Perhaps this is the reason why I reach for the Tom Bihn gear.  The Aeronaunt and the Ego lets me keep my gear well organized without having to worry about running out of room.

For a recent two-day trip, I packed the clothes and gear you see below.  The clothes were comfortably accommodated in the main section of the Aeronaunt.  The side pockets were used for power bricks and AC cords.  The Aeronaunt could have easily taken on twice as much stuff.  The Ego had separate pockets for all of the gadgets (Blackberry, GPS, desktop tripod, ipod, laptop, etc...). After we took this picture, I realized that we didn't even show the headphones, backup camera, magazines, and bluetooth headset which were all still in the bag.

We think Aeronaunt-Ego duo from the Tom Bihn collection is a great travel combination. Those who roam about frequently should definitely consider this set.  With some careful packing, we think we can live for a week or two out of these bags.  Hmmm...that may make for an interesting article.  We ARE heading to Spain for a couple of weeks in the Fall:-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



July 14,2007

RainyDayMagazine first mentioned Timex's new TechnoLuxury line back in 2006.  Since Feb 2007, quite a few of us have had a chance to wear and evaluate this new Timex watch.  We have worn it during work, on vacation, and even while working in the RainyDayGarden.  The distinctive orange band, black face, and stainless fittings got plenty of looks and positive comments from those interested in fine watches. 

Everyone has heard of Timex, but most were surprised to learn that Timex had a luxury line.   We were happy to talk about the watch and not surprisingly, all responded favorably to the design, features, and the feel of the TX.

In the upcoming InTheWild review of the Timex TX, we wanted to show a some of the different band/bracelet options available in the line. Since we also planned to write up a "how-to" on adjusting and sizing a watch band, we thought we would take the opportunity to preview of the Stainless Steel TX we'll be using to show how to adjust a watch bracelet for a perfect fit.

When working with fine watches, it pays to invest in the proper tools.  Using the proper tools will reduce the possibility of accidentally scratching the finish of the watch.  Proper tools will also make the entire process more enjoyable and successful.  Isn't that the whole point of doing it ourselves?

Properly sizing a metal watch bracelet is a project that anyone can do in less than an hour.  This is a fun starter RainyDayProject for those interested in doing their own watch-related maintenance. We should note that for those interested in pairing aftermarket bands with the TX, we would recommend purchasing the TX 730 series, as the 770 series has a non standard band. Timex says they will have different 770 series replacement bands available, but we have not found any shops which carry them as of today.   - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)


July 13,2007

The delivery of birthday gifts interrupted the flow of the office for most of the day yesterday.  In the midst of all the celebrating and the well wishing, someone noticed an interesting item in the pile of presents which we thought we would of interest to many RainyDayMagazine readers.

Carolyn received a book of Bird Songs (250 North American Bird Songs) which came with its own audio player.  The player has a built-in speaker, control buttons, and an LCD display.

To hear the song of any of the birds in the book (finches, sparrows): first note the bird's number, press the selector until that number shows up on the LCD, then push the play button to hear the song.

Some may remember our photo of the Blue Heron from Walden Pond. This is what its cry sounds like.  Somehow we would have expected something a little more...majestic?  Well it is what it is :-) - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)

July 12,2007

Birdwatching is a popular activity all over the world.  Even in our office there are a few who spend their fair share of the work day looking out the window at one interesting feathered friend or another.  Often by the time everyone gathers around to look, what was interesting is no longer there. 

Today is Carolyn's birthday, our senior copy editor who does a very good job of hiding our failures in proper possessive word forms from the world...send her your birthday wishes here.  Carolyn had been dropping hints that she would really like a pair of binoculars, so that she could actually see the birds she was looking at and not just squint in their general direction.  Of course, this was the perfect excuse the gadget-geeks needed to spend a week looking for binoculars with a combination of features THEY would (want for her) in a pair of peepers.  The fruit of this extensive research was the Meade CaptureView CV-6.

The Meade CaptureView is not just any pair of 8x30 binoculars.  It has a 3.2MP digital camera, can capture videos, has 32MB of memory, a flash card slot, and it is waterproof!  We'll tell you more about it later...we have to go wrap this back up and give it to her.  - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)



June 14,2007

Last Thursday we posted a teaser to this great fleece jacket from ScotteVest.  Today, we'll take a closer look at some of the features of this 12-pocket convertible jacket/vest.

One of the unique features of the pockets is the magnetic closure.  It keeps the contents secured in the pockets while still allowing quick access.  Very handy.  The zippers are always available for complete closure.

Each of the pockets of the jacket contains a helpful guide suggesting what type of device would be suitable.  Of course, you can put anything in there that fits.

Unique to the SeV design is the idea of a Personal Area Network (PAN). The PAN system is designed into the overall layout of the jacket, allowing for the routing of wires to connect up various devices.

Beside the deep hanging pockets, the SeV Fleece 4.0 Jacket can easily be converted to a vest with a quick unzip  of the sleeves.  This feature gives this jacket flexibility and three-season versatility.

In our upcoming FirstUse review, we'll try to load the pockets with various gear and gadgets.  Readers will have a chance to guess what is where...hmmm, sounds like the making of a RainyDayContest :-)   - Wan Chi Lau


Apr 9,2007

The original forecast for Easter Sunday was going to be cloudy.  However, the day did start out clear.   We decided that even though it was a crisp 30º out, we should take advantage of the day and head outdoors.

The Moose Hill Audubon Sanctuary is a quick 30 minute trip from the RainyDayMagazine office.  We gathered some gear and headed out after a stop for some pastries at Canto6.

There are over 20 miles of trails in this 2000 acre sanctuary.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves yesterday...even the chipmunks were still sleeping.   However, signs of Spring are everywhere.

The trails were not very difficult.  We did have to dress for the colder than expected temperature.  We also expected the ground to be somewhat wet.  For gear, we brought along the HighGear Enduro, Kombi gloves, and Dunham boots

The boots turned out to be exactly appropriate for the day's hike.  The terrain was quite wet even if the air temperature was in the 30ºs.  The Kumbi gloves keep the hands warm and the Enduro watch let us keep track of the time without weighing us down.

There are always things to see no matter what time of the year it is.  Sometimes it is just noticing how clear the water is.  A quiet hike on a Sunday is quite rejuvenating to both the body and the spirit.  We all feel we are now ready to face another Monday :-)   - Wan Chi Lau

Bill S was selected as the winner of final Saitek Easter Egg.  To all of the winners, if you have not already done so, send us an address and we'll ship it out ASAP.  BTW...don't forget to send us pics of you and the prize if you want to enter future contests!


Mar 17,2007(SignsOfSpringSaturday)

We LOVE being in New England!  A few days ago it was 70º.  Yesterday Boston got 8" of snow.  However, even a mid-March Nor'easter could not hold back the signs of Spring.  The tips of some early bulbs are starting to peek out.  A beautiful red cardinal was spotted in the RainyDayGarden this morning.  How cool is that? 

This little storm will make getting the roast duck for this weekend's Chinese New Year party a bit more challenging, but we are sure the interns are up to the task. - Wan Chi Lau


Mar 3,2007

There have been some pretty good guesses so far as to where we are, but no one has found us yet :-) As with all the puzzlers, clues are sometimes just a click away...hint, hint.

The weather is in the 80's today. The forecast mentioned a slight chance of a thunderstorm. We decided we to get into the ocean before the cloud cover cooled things off too much.

RainyDay Readers know that, regardless of where we are, it wouldn't be a RainyDayMagazine outting without some gear to be tested. We had been using these Aqua Sphere gear in the pool, but brought them along to see how well we like them in the ocean. We also thought it would be a good chance to test out the Timex TX InTheWild.

After a morning of bobbing around in the waves and playing with our gear, we were ready for some lunch. But where? Some of the folks heard about a festival about a 15 minute drive away. A quick shower later, we were all packed into the minivan and heading out to look for cerviche.

By the time we got there, the festival was already in full swing. There were a few stages for music. About four blocks were closed to street traffic. The aroma from the all of the street vendors filled the air. We quickly fanned out in search of lunch.

We were not disappointed. Many of the local restaurants had booths with fares for sampling. An amazing lunch was assembled just by wandering around.

- Wan Chi Lau



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