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LampChamp LampChamp powers your stuff while Budweiser lights up your hockey games

By Jim Bray
September 22, 2016

Budweiser is bringing new meaning to the term "light beer," while LampChamp is bringing new flexibility to your travelling power needs. Somewhat.

Which to tackle first, a convenient item for those toiling on the road, or a fun fan thing for hockey nuts? My wife and my mother would undoubtedly admonish me to get the work done first, so I'll start with a couple of quick impressions of the LampChamp. Then we can relax over a tall cool one!

LampChamp, according to its maker's blurb, "turns any lamp into a USB charging station for multiple electronic devices." That's a bald faced lie - or, to be fair, maybe just a bit of excessively zealous marketing hype - because the first lamp with which I tried it had to be disassembled partially before I could get the LampChamp seated in it. And doesn't that just figure?

But it's kind of a neat idea, and at $17.99 USD it's pretty cheap portability.

LampChamp screws into the part of a lamp where the bulb goes, then you screw the bulb back into the top of the LampChamp - it's kind of like an adapter/extender in that way, except that in the process you're also getting a USB port you can use to power - or keep powered - whatever USB-based piece of electronics you need charged or powered, whether smart phone, tablet, whatever.

I jumped at the chance to review this, because I have the dickens of a time finding enough vacant (let alone convenient) wall sockets in hotel rooms when I travel. The ones by the beside tables are often out of reach, or taken up by the table lamp and/or clock radio or whatever, but I like to keep my phone there overnight so it's charged when I wake up. I also use it as a source for my sleepy time tunes, and I use its built in alarm clock rather than the rooms' (which are often set wrong or more difficult to figure out than they need to be).

But a LampChamp, from Olens Technology, would let me plug my phone into it, right on (well, above) the night table, making the world a better place even if only slightly.

When I tried it on a desk lamp in my living room the bloom came off the rose, because the LampChamp is quite wide and the only way I could get it into the lamp was to take off the lamp shade (my party lamp shade, too!) and disassemble the metal wire thingy that holds it aloft over the lamp. When I did that the LampChamp worked fine. But the lamp was too bright and awkward, plus I had metal and a lamp shade taking up space.

I checked out our other "LampChamp-compatible" lamps - we only have two of them, both floor standing units - and it was the same story with them.

This isn't necessarily a deal breaker, and I look forward to taking the LampChamp on the road with me at the end of October (my next scheduled trip, so far) to try it in hotel rooms. I expect the story will be the same there, but since there are usually lamps on either side of the bed in a hotel room, I anticipate I can disassemble one and leave it shut off so I can use it merely as a power point for my phone. And it should work, because the LampChamp can control the light itself, thanks to its built in switch, and having the light bulb turned off doesn't affect power to the USB port as long as the lamp's power switch is on.

And that's okay. I generally eschew one of the bedside lights anyway (ever since we had kids I've enjoyed being kept in the dark), so as long as I remember to take the LampChamp with me when I check out (the disassembled lamp will be a good reminder to do that - so maybe the big base is a feature and not a bug) Robert should be my Dad's male sibling.

Meanwhile, I've lent the LampChamp to a friend of my son, a guy who's on the road so much he changed his middle name to "Jetlag." If he has any observations beyond my own - and if I have any others after my upcoming road trip - I'll let you know in a future column.

Okay, work's done. Let's party!

Budding party favour…

You may have seen the commercials on TV for Budweiser's Goal-Synced beer glass, which features a red light in its base that's supposed to fire up when your favourite hockey team scores a goal. I've certainly seen them and thought it was cool and silly enough that I'd run out and buy a case of Bud (not my brand of choice, but the brand of a good friend) and gift it.

Bud Beer GlassAs it turned out, I didn't have to! The Budweiser folk sent one right to my door - sans case of beer, unfortunately (the bastards! Though to be fair, there was a can of Bud in the package, so it'll be going to my "Bud-dy" as well).

And I'll be darned like an old sock: it works. Well, it works as far as it "test functioning" with the app you need to control it. NHL hockey hasn't started yet so I don't know if it really fires up when my team scores.

I probably never will, either. I don't follow hockey (though as a good right winger I don't wish to see it banned for those who do) and even if I did I'd root for my home town Calgary Flames, and the way they play it might never light up!

Which makes me wish Budweiser had thought to include other sports in its app (maybe that's coming, but I doubt it). I do follow the Canadian Football League and the way my home town Calgary Stampeders are playing so far the thing would probably be lit up all the time, like the Stamps do the scoreboard, making passersby who see it through our home's windows think I'm living in a brothel. Of course if history is any indicator, that will probably change in the playoffs and it'll start lighting up as if it were a Flames game...

My friend Vern is a long time Detroit Red Wings fan, so he may have more luck once hockey season starts. And since he has an app on his phone that hollers when the team scores, I have a feeling this glass will be right up  his alley, er, rink.

Setting up the thing is easy. It comes with batteries and they're easy to install. You also download and install the Red Light app, which you can find on the Android store and the Apple iStore (look for it in the latter outlet under "iPhone only" - a classification issue that caused me to miss it the first time I searched for it because I was looking for an iPad version (I don't have an iPhone). They make you sign up when you fire it up, which was annoying - but it's also a common tactic for marketers these days so I can't blame the Clydesdale brigade solely.  

I also had an issue setting the glass up with the app, because I tried pairing it using my phone's settings menu, whereas you need to do it using the app itself, ignoring the settings area of your device. Once I figured that out, it worked just fine. The app's a tad clunky, but it works.

And fortunately, the glass only lights up with the red "rotating beacon:" there's no hooting and/or hollering. Probably 'cause there's no speaker…

The glass is a sequel to 2013's Budweiser Red Light the brewery claims "changed the face of goal celebrations," perhaps taking them from the destruction of police cars to a more passive mien. I have no idea how that promotion worked, but it was obviously successful enough to spawn this updated version.

The Goal-Synced glass, apparently available in specially marked cases of Bud, holds 14 ounces of beer (which makes it too small for my taste…) and I assume it'll work with beers other than Buds, too - otherwise, if you tried to pour in a different brand, you'd get a reaction like happened in John Carpenter's The Thing when they used a heated electrical wire to test the gang's blood for alien contamination.

The glass, according to instructions on its box, is not dishwasher safe and you're also admonished to remember to unscrew the electric light portion before you hand wash it. I guess that would be a "duh," unless you've already filled and emptied it a few times.

And remember: according to the same blurb "This is not a toy. Not suitable for children."

Really? They needed to say that?

Copyright 2016 Jim Bray

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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