The new QuikPod SPORT

Over the past two years, I’ve really changed the way I’ve shot my videos. Everything used to be handheld, but that changed a couple of years ago. When I started using my GoPro more, I knew I wanted to take advantage of its action cam settings, but needed a better way to hold on it. So I reached out to QuikPod. They were kind enough to send me their POV/DSLR model to review.

I loved it.

It really changed the way I filmed with a GoPro. The original DSLR/POV wasn’t perfect, but was pretty damn close. In my review, I outlined a number of improvements. A year later, an updated model was released. This new version was just about as close to perfect as one could get. Everything I had concerns about with the original were addressed, and it became my go-to monopod for extreme sport activities.

At the same time, QuikPod sent me their new Explorer 3. It instantaneously became my favorite. It’s small, it works incredibly well with my GoPro, and light. This means I can carry it with me where ever I go… and I do. When you see me walking in Seoul, I have the GoPro and the Explorer 3 in my bag and ready to go.

While the Explorer 3 is great for normal selfies and filming activities, it just doesn’t have a feel I’m comfortable with when going SCUBA diving, bungee jumping, or sailing through the air on a zip line. For those activities, I still use the new DSLR/POV model. But as you can expect, a mono pod geared towards holding a 2kg camera is bit on the heavy side. So what to do?

Well, QuikPod has THE answer. They’ve just launched a new product called the Sport.

So what is the QuikPod Sport? It’s a hybrid between the Explorer 3 and DSLR/POV. It will carry a camera over a pound, anodized aluminum with locking cams, fully weather proof, light, and sturdy. It’s not as small as the Explorer 3, meaning I can’t keep it in my daily bag; however, when traveling, I’d much rather have this with me since it weighs just over 200g.

I’ve taken it out to test and have to report back this is an awesome product and one I fully endorse. If you’re looking for a monopod for extreme sports and you use an action cam – this is the one to get. Seriously. It’s that good.

If you’re going to pick up the Sport or any of the other QuikPods, I’d like to make one recommendation. Spend a few extra bucks and pick up the tripod legs. These screw into the bottom of the monopod, allowing it to stand. I’ve been using this for a while and love the ability not to have to carry around multiple devices.

Blue Yeti Microphone Sound Test

As many of you know, I recently completed another lap around the sun (had a birthday). While I generally don’t want anything, I am trying to make better products this year. So at Jo’s recommendation I finally caved in and decided on upgrading my mic for podcasts and voice over. There are many options out there, but after hearing reviews and thinking about what I wanted to do, I opted to have Jo buy me the Blue Yeti Microphone.

Overall, I am quite pleased with its performance. The reason I opted to obtain this microphone is because it has four recording options: stereo, omni, cardioid, and bidirectional. In this video, I show the subtle differences between these four modes.

The Best Travel Wallet

Greetings my friends! Today, I’m going to talk about something that has made a huge difference in my life – removing the fat from my butt. Yeah, I said it. However, it probably isn’t what you’re thinking about. What I’m talking about is changing my wallet to what may just be the best travel wallet out there. What brought about this change?

When it comes to my wallet, I like to have a lot of stuff in there. You know – just in case I need it. There are cards in my wallet I use once a year (or less) and yet, I feel compelled to keep them inside. There are slips of paper with notes on them that have since been transcribed to my phone, computer, and other online sources, yet still take up a lot of space. Then there’s the multiple folds in each wallet that just makes things unruly!

So on this holiday, I stumbled across the Bellroy Travel Wallet. The idea was intriguing and since my butt cheek was going numb from time to time from sitting on my wallet, I thought I would give it a try. I’m glad I did, the change has been amazing! It wasn’t cheap either, but I have never been one to shy away from quality.

So let’s make this a little interactive – grab your wallet and snap a picture of it and show me how thick it is! You can post your picture in the comment section on Facebook or or simply Tweet me the picture @QiRanger.

Seoul’s Gusto Taco

Growing up in both Texas and Arizona, if there’s one type of food that I would call comforting, it would be Mexican. Since arriving in Korea almost five years ago, I’ve been pleased to see the number Mexican food restaurants rise. This week, Jo and I venture to Hongdae to Gusto Taco. Trip Advisor consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in Seoul, so I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

The restaurant is located just around the corner from exit 1 of Sangsu Station (Line 6). A few buses do run in the area, but your best bet is to get there by taking the subway or walking. If you want to take a taxi there, just tell them to take you to the station.

It’s a fairly small restaurant divided into two floors. The first floor is nothing more than small window, where you can see the prep cook making Gusto Taco’s signature tortillas. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, they make their own here – and that is a very good thing. However, while we were there, they wouldn’t allow me to film. SAD PANDA

We made our way upstairs and found ourselves the very first customers of the day (or at least the only ones there at the moment. After settling down it was time to get our grub on. We ordered the following: 2 margaritas, 2 sets of chipotle pork tacos, and chipotle pork nachos. The total came to W40,400 ($38.33). That might seem like a lot, but for Western Food in Seoul, it isn’t.

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

The margarita was… unique. It’s served in a rocker glass and despite asking for a frozen margarita it was simply a regular one placed in a glass with a ton of shaved ice. It tasted all right. I found it quite tart, but that’s the way I like them. All that being said, the margarita wasn’t anything special. For its price, I found it quite lacking and opted to purchase a 500ml San Miguel beer for an additional W6,000 ($5.70).

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

Moving on to the nachos, I had some high hopes, since I know they make their own cheese sauce. Unfortunately, that’s the best thing about the dish. Seriously, it was so good, I used my fingers to scoop up the excess cheese. YUM However, that was the only thing special about the nachos. Gusto Tacos doesn’t make their own tortilla chips, as that would be “cost prohibitive.” While, there’s nothing wrong with that, kit’s also a shame, since that would make the dish extra-special.

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

Now let’s talk tacos. Our chipotle pork tacos arrived hot and served wrapped in tin foil. No plates needed here and it reminded me of all the times I got tacos off the end of a truck when crossing the border years ago. The tortillas, as I’ve alluded to before, were amazing. The pork was tender and full of rich spices. When I took my first bite, savory juices dripped out its back end. It was a joyous taste explosion in my mouth and one I would pay for again and again.

While the margaritas and nachos weren’t anything beyond ordinary, the tacos were. Overall, this was a great place to come and eat. On a scale of one to five bottles of Awesomesauce, I’ll rate it a solid 4.

Review: Costco American Vodka

Korea has a reputation for expensive booze (save soju). In my pursuit of delicious distilled spirits, I opted to recently purchase Costco’s American Vodka. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I’m not that much of a vodka drinker, but knowing how I enjoy the bourbon, I was willing to give this a shot.

Yangjae Costco serves up both of Costco’s vodkas. The European Vodka (distilled five times) is made in France, but the American Vodka (distilled six times) is made in California. Internet research leads me to believe (if the sleuths are correct), that this particular bottle was distilled by the former owners of Grey Goose.

The vodka is incredibly smooth with a hint of citrus (at least that’s what I thought). I really enjoyed it and at less than W16,000 for 1.75 liters, it is a bargain. If you enjoy vodka, straight or mixed, this is not a bad entry.

Do you like vodka? If so how: straight or mixed?

Korean Snacks: Pastas

One of my favorite dishes on the planet is pasta. So when I came across Lotte’s Pastas snack, I knew I wanted to give it a try. Plus, my friend Jason sent in a request for the same snack. So let’s see what these twisty, crunchy treats taste like.

VLOG: Thoughts on iTunes Radio

As someone usually has music playing when I work, one music provider I’ve always enjoyed has been Pandora. Unfortunately, once leaving the US and settling in Korea, that meant it was no longer available to me since it’s locked to US Internet addresses.

This of course didn’t stop me, since I could just run a VPN to spoof my address back to the US. For a long time I’ve been able to enjoy Pandora on my computer and also on my iPhone. Since the release of iOS7, I’ve been playing with the new iTunes radio. It’s Apple’s version of Pandora and comes with the US release of iOS7 release.

While there’s little different between the functionality between iTunes Radio and Pandora there is one key difference: iTunes Radio doesn’t require a VPN to work. Even outside the US Internet umbrella, I have access to the new feature.

While for someone like me, who lives outside the US and already has VPN software installed on computers and phones, the new iTunes Radio isn’t a new experience; however, for someone traveling on light business, not having to install a VPN client is definitely a bonus. One of the nice features about iTunes Radio is that it keeps a list of recently played songs. Not only can your purchase them when they’re playing, but after-the-fact.

Here’s what I want to do – I really want to put the new iTunes Radio to the test. Since YouTube is a global platform, I wonder how well it will do when getting song and artist selections from around the world. So please, write down your favorite song or artist in the comment section. I’ll add it to my iTunes Radio and let you know if it plays or if it gives me an “alternative.”

Also, don’t forget! Tonight at 6:30pm KST is Video Rodeo on Arirang!

REVIEW: JayBird Bluebuds X Bluetooth Headphones

If you’ve been following me at all on this site or the interwebs, you know I like to stay fit. It’s not because I am some sort of fitness fanatic, but because I like great tasting food, and a lot of it. My preferred method of exercise is not hitting the gym, but hitting the pavement and going for a run. There is one problem. I sweat like there’s no tomorrow.

Jay Bird Bluebuds X Bluetooth HeadphonesThat picture was taken with my iPhone right after a run last week. You can see the sweat beading up on my bald head and it doesn’t stop there. In the summer, my shirt becomes drenched with the smelly liquid to the point I can wring out about 10ml of fluid – if not more. When I sit to cool off after my run, there’s actually a pool created from sweat dripping off my legs. It’s nasty.

So why am I telling you this? Well, over the past two years, this copious sweating has cost me several headphones. I blew through the two standard Apple iPhone cords, three more pairs of the new iPhone Ear Buds, and four other $30-$50 pairs. I’ve probably spent over $250 in two years on head phones for my runs because it’s a vital tool for tracking pace and distance. And you know what? I’m tired of it. It was time to finally make an investment in something that wouldn’t gunk up and break after a few months.

JayBird Bluebuds X Bluetooth Headphones

Jay Bird Bluebuds X Bluetooth HeadphonesOkay, let me begin by saying these are my thoughts on the product. This is not a sponsored post or review. In fact, until last week I had never heard of the company or the headphones. I was reading through my RSS feeds and an article came across listing ten suggestions for headphones for those who run. The JayBird Bluebuds X were one of the few pairs that were not only sweat proof but also bluetooth enabled. So they caught my eye.

So what makes them so great?

One of the reasons I hadn’t purchased a pair of “sports headphones” before was because typically, they are a bit pricy. For me, spending more than $15 on a pair of headphones is a steep investment, since I’m not an audiophile. But after wasting my money for two years, I finally figured it was time to invest in something that would last.

Jay Bird Bluebuds XWhen reading the reviews and product sheets here are the key points that typically drive the sales:

  1. Bluethooth
  2. Sweat proof
  3. 8-hour battery life
  4. Official headphones of the US Triathlon Team

What may kill the sale? The price tag: $170.

But after doing research, I decided to go ahead and make the purchase. I figured it was time and I wanted to get something that would last. The headphones arrived and I quickly put on the correct tips and wings to secure their fit.

JayBird Bluebuds XI’ve had them for a week and this is what I’ll report – I LOVE THEM.

One of the things I hated with my corded headphones was that every once in a while, I’d snag them on something and they’d rip out of my ear. No such problem with the JayBird Bluebuds X. They easily connected to my iPhone and from that moment on, it was music heaven. I’ve also not noticed any additional power drain or heat from my phone while running. While I haven’t expended the battery yet, I have been using it every day and am nearing seven hours of use on the initial charge.

Worth it?

The Bluebuds X work exactly as advertised. Honestly, I can’t tell any acoustic difference between the bluetooth headphones and the one’s I’ve been buying over the years. Those that are particular about sound might nitpick the headphones, but I don’t. They sound fine. To be honest, I usually have them at a low volume as well, since I’m running on the street and I need to be able to hear what’s going on around me. I’m not listening to become immersed in sound, I’m listening to help pass the time and they perform well at that.

I’ve been able to run with them and even perform my travel workout routine with them. That’s something I’d never be able to do with corded headphones, which means that hitting the gym to lift will also be easy. The anti-sweat feature also works (well, I assume it does… and if it doesn’t, it comes with a lifetime warranty against sweat damage). I’ve also used them to listen to a few podcasts on buses. They worked fantastic. While I’m not crazy about the $170 price tag, you get what you pay for: a great piece of technology that works extremely well.

If you’re looking for a set of exercise headphones, especially if you sweat a lot, be sure to consider these. I’m happy with my purchase.

REVIEW: Edutige EWS-003 Fur Windscreens

I love my GoPro cameras. They enable me to get some great action shots. When I was introduced to Edutige microphones last year, the small cameras have been my go-to source for creating some of my popular videos on YouTube. However, as with all standard foam windscreens, when the gust got a bit strong, the sound started to distort. So I did a little research and I purchased a $25 professional grade deadcat (fur windscreen). The result was just what I was looking for and the sound perfect.

Henry Kim, the owner of Edutige contacted me a short time later and told me he was working on a similar windscreen for a number of his products, including the ETM-001, which I use. Last week, he sent me the EWS-003 Fur Windscreen to review. The above video “My Life: Korean Exercise Equipment” was shot using the GoPro Hero2, Edutige ETM-001, and the EWS-003 Fur Windscreens. I found no difference in the sound quality between the Edutige deadcats and the professional model I had purchased earlier.

edutige ews-003 steve miller qiranger

One key difference between my original model and the Edutige EWS-003 is the price. The model I ordered online in the US was $25. The Edutige EWS-003 is currently selling for W27,500 ($24.72); however, that is for three windscreens, not one. Orders ship with a white, gray, and black fur windscreen. It’s an incredible deal – especially for someone like me that has several cameras and microphones.

edutige ews-003 steve miller qiranger

The windscreens aren’t limited to just GoPro cameras either. Since the ETM-001 and ETM-006 (a lav mic) work with various smartphones and voice recorders, the windscreens would be an ideal addition for journalists conducting interviews outdoors.

edutige ews-003 steve miller qiranger

If you’re looking for a good deadcat for your GoPro or small digital recording device, I recommend giving the EWS-003 a shot. I’m pleased with the results and think you will be as well.

edutige ews-003 steve miller qiranger

Note: I received a complementary set of EWS-003 fur windscreens for this review. The opinion expressed in this article are my own.

Just how good is the EWS-003? Well, I put it to the test in my office with the pro brand. See and listen for yourself.

Does Pimsleur Work?

If you’ve tried learning languages over the years, chances are you’ve come across ads for the Pimsleur Method. The company boasts that anyone can learn a language using their system in about a month. On a recent trip to the Philippines, I opted to give their system a try and purchased the Tagalog Level 1 system. It consisted of 30 lessons and 20 additional reading lessons. My goal was to be conversational at the end of the month. Would the Pimsleur method get me to that point? Only time would tell.


The system is a series of audio lessons. The lesson starts out with a basic conversation between two native speakers. Then the lesson dives into the parts of that conversation, teaching you how to conjugate the verbs and correctly pronounce the words.

To make this a true test, I devoted 30 or so minutes every day to complete the lesson. While I tried to do it at a consistent time, that wasn’t always the case. But I was adamant about spending the time each day. Then, I would try to practice and implement what I learned right away.

By 14 days, I was comfortable enough to walk into a market and haggle. By the end of the course, I was able to have a basic conversation on the street. In fact, on more than one occasion, I was complemented on my speaking skills. For me, the program worked; however, it wasn’t easy. I had to work at using what I was being taught on a regular basis. If I didn’t allocate the time or use what I was learning all the time, I’m not sure program would have been as successful for me.

I was quite pleased with the system and was anxious to learn more. It should be noted that the Pimsleur Level 1 course will only teach you the basics: who, what, when, where, eat, drink, etc. But that is enough for most travelers and what the course is designed for. If you’re looking to travel to a new country for an extended period of time and want a great and easy way to learn the language, give Pimsleur a try. It’s well worth the $100 for the download.