Cool Tools

Reviews: Logitech’s social video camera and Dell’s universal docking station

Logitech Bemo Social Camera
Credit: Logitech

The scoop: Bemo social camera, by Logitech, about $130

What is it? The Bemo (not to be confused with the character “BMO” from the “Adventure Time” cartoon) is a small video camera that can record quick clips or time-lapse videos at the touch of a button. Synchronizing the Bemo with your iPhone via Bluetooth gives you additional functionality, such as the ability to see where the camera is pointed, as well as some basic video editing to let you create short movies, add filters, titles and music. The camera is geared to users who like to create short video via their smartphone using apps like Vine or Instagram, but with the added benefits of having a smaller, rugged and water-resistant camera that can be clipped onto clothing (or worn via an included lanyard). Videos are recorded onto an included 4GB microSD card. 

Why it’s cool: The Bemo reminds me of cameras like the Flip, where you could get one-button-push recordings quickly - the smaller size can make it more conspicuous when recording - especially if you’re trying to record something cute that your camera-aware kids are doing. The ability to wear the camera via the metal pocket-clip or lanyard makes it more like a wearable camera that can capture moments you might not get with a smartphone camera. The included app offerssome interesting features that give you a view screen of what the camera isseeing (for quick adjustments), as well as some fun video editing offerings. You can also share your clips from the app to social media sites, includingFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Some caveats: The premise of “capture video anytime, anywhere” offered by Logitech with the Bemo camera isn’t really that hard to achieve with an existing smartphone and video app, as we’ve seen by the legion of videos created through Instagram, Vine and other apps. While the time-lapse features are interesting, the slowest time-lapseoffered was a recording every five seconds, I’d prefer seeing clips that take a shot/burst every 1- or 2-seconds. Time-lapse features are also coming in iOS 8, so that novelty may soon fade as well.

The lack of a viewfinder is also a problem – if you’re using this without the app on the phone, there’s a chance that your subject will be out of frame or cut off – using the app’s viewfinder solves this problem, but then you’re back to the question of “why not just use the phone to record the video as well?”.

The app was nice and easy to navigate, but I needed to export clips into iMovie (on my iPhone) in order to get some of the effects I wanted. For example, I wanted to have a music soundtrack on only one clip out of the three I recorded, and I couldn’t do this through the Bemo app. At the $130 price tag, it’s a bit steep for the functions offered, if this got discounted to under $100 I could see using this as part of a video camera arsenal (along with other small recording devices, smartphone, etc.)

Grade: 3 stars (out of five)


Dell MKS14 Universal Docking Station Dell

The scoop:
Universal Dock and Monitor Stand - MKS14, by Dell, about $170 (monitor sold separately)

What is it? Imagine amonitor stand and docking station built into one unit - that’s pretty much what the MKS14 is. A sold-separately Dell monitor (you can attach VESA-compliant monitors if you don’t want a Dell monitor, but it doesn’t come with a VESA plate adapter) attaches to the top of the unit, and the base of the unit includes all of the docking station ports. These include four USB 3.0 ports(technically five, but the fifth is an upstream port that connects to your notebook), a media card reader, Ethernet port, HDMI output and audio port for a headphone or microphone. The docking station provides users with a handy way of providing notebook owners with additional ports and connections for office-based peripherals (speakers, headphones, USB-based storage drives orprinters, etc.) that they can leave connected to docking station instead of a attaching individually to the notebook. The MKS14 can support monitors up to 27-inches in size.

Why it’s cool: So, Keith, why are you reviewing a docking station? The MKS14 includes DisplayLink technology, which means connecting a notebook to the monitor stand via an included USB cable gives you instant multi-monitor support. The docking station doesn’t require that you buy a Dell notebook - we were able to connect our Lenovo Y50 notebook to the MKS14 quickly and easily. This gives IT departments (or home users) a docking station that they don’t have to replace when upgrading to a newer notebook a few years later. If you do have a Dell notebook, the MKS14 includes a nice charging port that charges the notebook’s power through the docking station, requiring only one power outlet (for theMKS14 and the notebook). In my case, I needed the second outlet space to charge a non-Dell notebook. The inclusion of the HDMI output port means you can attach a third display to the system (monitor is #1, notebook screen is #2) if it supports HDMI input - a very cool bonus.

Some caveats: As cool as this system is, it only supports Windows machines - my poor MacBook Pro still relies on my Thunderbolt docking station for its additional monitor support. If you're not a Dell shop (or home), it's not as cool.

Grade: 4.5 stars (out of five).


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