Spotlight on Brando

by K. Samwell on March 14, 2007 in Peripherals

Brando offers a wide range of special, useful and helpful technology products. Alongside the myriads of USB products are a wide selection of LED items, which will also be illuminated in this spotlight.

Name Badge, Auto LED Lamp, Super Mini Phone

LED Name Badge II

Product Link

Ok this is pretty cool, in a rather geeky way. What this is, basically, is a programmable LED name badge. The software is extremely straightforward and allows for quite a bit of customization. It comes with a very unique and specific cable that attaches to a COMM port and plugs gingerly into the side of the device (be very careful when doing so) and all you simply do is type in the text you want to scroll, specify the font and size, and even the way it scrolls, and hit send. It send the information to the badge and you can immediately preview it. There are several scrolling options; Up from Centre, Scroll Up, Down, Left and Right, Fall & Stack, Left Continuously, or Random. You can adjust the Luminosity and the Speed, and like I previously mentioned the fonts which you currently have installed. I tried using some ‘fancy’ fonts and I think they were too fancy for the job and to be honest, I found fixedsys to be the best to use for appearance and readability.

Now I was surprised at the lack of protection for the board, the back is literally an exposed board with a monster magnet attached. By monster, I mean these must be a rare earth magnets to be this strong for being so small. The magnets are attached to the removable plate that you place on the inside of a shirt to correspond to the metal plate on the back of the badge. And believe me, it will stay in place! A CR2032 battery is included and those are quite easy to find for when you need to replace it. There are instructions and drawings on the back of the packaging, however I found they didn’t quite correspond to the badge itself, with regards to the on-board buttons to program or change message without PC connection. The instructions state there are three buttons, Enter, Up and Down, however the unit itself appears to only have one button: FUN (assuming for Function) and pressing it did not interrupt the scrolling message or affect it in any visible way.

So what did I use this for? I had planned to be ultrageeky and wear it at the GDC with various sayings such as “Ask me about this Brando product” and “ FTW” or whatever struck my fancy at the time, however I found a much more practical use in that it was a friends birthday, so I entered the text “It’s my birthday!” onto the badge and proceeded to make him wear it at work all day. :) I can’t think of a better way to get the message across than a very bright LED badge!

So if you see some geeky redhead at the Austin Game Conference wearing a LED badge, it’s probably me! For $32US it’s a bit pricey for one time use, however it would be great for use in shop windows, or even in your vehicle if it is legal in your region. The site states that it is available in three colours, white blue and green, however my text is red and the unit itself is black so you may want to make sure that you order the colour you want. This is overall, pretty neat and there were a lot of comments and compliments about it when worn by the birthday boy. People were interested and inquisitive about it, exactly what you want when you’re trying to convey a message.

Pir Auto LED Lamp

Product Link

So what the heck is it? It is an infrared motion sensing light that allows for quite a bit of customization with regards to light sensitivity and brightness of LEDs. There’s an adjustable time delay, and adjustable operating brightness and LED brightness. Now first let me mention, make sure you put the 4 AAA batteries in all the way, ensure they are as far down as they can go or you will have great difficulty putting the cover back on. You’ll notice on the back are two scroll wheels, one for how bright the LED lights are to be, and the other for how sensitive it is to light. You can set it to only come on in darkness, or in any level of daylight. There is also an on/off toggle and a switch that lets you set the time delay before the lights go off, from 20 seconds, 60 seconds or 90 seconds with a ± 20 second tolerance.

On the front are 6 white LED lights that light up when movement is detected, as well as a red warning LED for when your battery power is low. The centre is a rather large button looking device that is actually the sensor itself, I kept pressing it like a button expecting it to do something. All in all, this looks reminiscent of a round old school thermostat, and is approximately the same size.

To mount this unit temporarily, you can simply set it into its base with a twist of the wrist and since the base is magnetic, you can attach it to your fridge, your steel door or any other metallic surface that will take a magnet. I was skeptical the tiny magnets in the back would hold the unit up, but I tested it out on my front door and sure enough, it stayed exactly in place even when the door was opened and closed several times. If you want to secure it more permanently, there are holes in the base that would allow you to mount it with screws or nails, or my personal suggestion would be to use some Command strips to place this unit in a semi-permanent non metallic location.

Now I was a little confused with the fact that I could only get two of my six LEDs to light up, but the slight rattle of the unit when I pick it up tells me that perhaps there was some damage prior to or during shipping. I may crack this baby open to replace the LEDs that are either disconnected or possibly burnt out. Even still, two LEDs set to full brightness are quite illuminating, even in this fully lit room. It may be enough with just the two to light up an area such as the top of a set of stairs, or even the step in your garage.

Finally, this unit is only $16US and even with the burnt out/disconnected LEDs on my particular sample, it’s still worth it. There are more and more places I’m thinking of putting this to light the way in the dark, and due to the fact this is an LED and it is not plugged in, gives it much more life and much more flexibility of placement. I don’t need to make sure this is plugged in an outlet, or have to change the bulb every 3 months like some of my other incandescent night lights. Practical and efficient. That right there makes it worthwhile.

These last items are neither USB or LED but still, rather neat.

Super Mini Phone

Product Link

Have you ever looked at something online and thought – hey neat, but when it’s in your hands, just stood there with a puzzled look on your face. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every item so far on the list of Brando items we’re spotlighting, it’s been a little like Christmas, I just reach into the box and see what surprise is next. My most recent pull is honestly a little puzzling. It’s a Super Mini Phone.

The description online simply states:

Insert the telephone cord into the Super Mini Phone
Insert the phone jack into the extension jack of the Super Mini Phone
Insert the headset into the Super Mini Phone

Ok simple enough. The package itself states that it is the Phone Genius 2008 “Let’s Enjoy Private Hands Free Telephone in Chatting” ” Phone Genius is the new advanced Super Mini telephone in the communication market. Now you need not pick up any telephone handset again in chatting. From day to night, you can move freely on phone conversation.”

Move freely about 2′ from your phone maybe, the cords are so short, that they don’t actually reach from my current phone base to my desk seat, and the phone itself is within reaching distance. Now I went back to the Brando site to see if maybe I’m just not reading the instructions correctly and lo and behold, there’s what I suspected. In their own photo of the item, they show that it is sitting right beside the actual phone itself.

So from what I can glean this is a fancy corded headset that also lets you dial from it.Now my question are these, Who does not currently use a cordless phone? Why would I use this product that binds me to my phone base and not just use a bluetooth handsfree headset? If I really want to move freely on phone conversations, I’ll use my cordless for one, and if I need to free up both hands, I’ll use my cordless headset. Quite frankly the only saving grace for this entire $5.50US unit, is that the headset itself is compatible with my cell phone, and this is certainly less expensive than the usual headsets sold for cells. I’m sorry but I’m still scratching my head over this item. Even if your phone base was across the room and you strung reams of phone cable to the Super Mini Phone, wouldn’t it just be easier to move the phone base? Maybe I’m completely missing the point here, but I think not. This is the only disappointing item in the Brando box of goodies.