Archives For Accessories

fitbit-aria

After four months with the Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale ($130), I haven’t shed any significant weight. However, should I find the motivation to improve my fitness and diet, I do believe the Aria will provide an attractive and effective mechanism for tracking my progress. But let’s back up a bit…

As our homes and appliances collectively gain sentience via Internet connectivity, health gadgetry has become something of hot topic. The current crop of digital pedometers doesn’t do much for me, but a WiFi scale with automated tracking and charting is appealing. In this burgeoning new category, there are basically two manufacturers to choose from: Withings and Fitbit. And I went with the Fitbit Aria primarily because it clocked in $30 cheaper than Withings (at the time) and Fitbit has decent buzz due to the success of those aforementioned activity trackers (that don’t do much for me). So, while Withings may have a more sophisticated display, at the end of the day I’m just looking for two numbers — weight and body fat percentage. Assuming both products provide similar accuracy, which I can’t definitively address. Continue Reading…

StickNFind bluetooth stickers

All this talk about an Internet of Things and I still can’t find my keys in the morning. This is the problem I hoped to solve when I visited the StickNFind booth at CES last week. (An eon ago, but we’re still catching up on coverage) Funded by an IndieGoGo campaign (like Kickstarter), the StickNFind product is a small Bluetooth sticker combined with a mobile app for homing in on objects wherever they go. It’s due to ship commercially in March, and it comes with a reasonable price tag of $50 for two stickers.

There are a lot of things to like about StickNFind. The sticker format makes these tracking devices very flexible. They stick on almost anything, and you can track up to 20 objects (or pets, or kids…) at once. There’s also a nifty “virtual leash” feature that lets you know when a sticker is moving out of range. Unfortunately, StickNFind is also at the mercy of Bluetooth’s limitations. The tracking function only works up to 100 feet, and it requires line of sight. Continue Reading…

CES Gadget Go Bag

Mari Silbey —  January 3, 2013 — 9 Comments

CES gadget go bag

 

After skipping the “International CES”* last year, both Dave and I are headed back to Vegas for the consumer electronics show in 2013. And that means it’s time once again to look into the gadget go bag. For next week’s trip I’m packing up the laptop and smartphone, but also a few accessories that should hopefully make my rounds at the show a little easier. First, despite Dave’s insistence that I use my phone to take all photos, I’ve acquired another point-and-shoot camera. The quality of my smartphone photos is seriously lacking, and while I have no aspirations to be an award-winning photographer, it would be nice if a few of my gadget pics were recognizable as such, even in low light and among jostling conference-goers.

Second, I’ve added a critical new piece of hardware to boost my phone’s naturally crappy battery life. The Anker Astro 3 external charger may be overkill given that I only need one of the one thousand enclosed adapter tips, but it promises to power my phone at least six times on a single charge. And that is invaluable while traipsing around Vegas roughly 20 out of every 24 hours each day.

Finally, I’ve included a small Skooba case for organizing my various gadget cables, and a set of cheap but worthwhile Panasonic earphones so I can safely ignore my fellows anytime and anywhere. Remember, just because we bloggers want to learn more about this year’s gadgets doesn’t mean we actually want to talk to other people while doing it.

Interestingly, while pulling this post together, I happened across a photo of my gadget bag from CES 2010. There have been a few changes since then. Continue Reading…

Jawbone Jambox

It’s been a while since I bothered with any Bluetooth accessories, but this year’s Christmas gift of a Jawbone Jambox has me back on the bandwagon. The portable speaker pairs via Bluetooth or connector cable to any phone, computer, tablet, etc. I tried mine out this evening with my smartphone, and the wireless connection was a cinch to configure. Once I set my phone to discover the Jambox, and clicked the speaker’s side switch to the up position, the two devices were ready to pair. One more button push on top of the Jambox, and speaker and smartphone were automatically hitched.

As Dave has written before, the Jambox is convenient both for playing tunes, and as a speakerphone for conference calls. Given how often I do both, it’s the perfect accessory for my work-at-home life. My personal Jambox is blue, but the speaker also comes in black, grey and red. Amazon has the Jambox on sale now for $150.

From the spec sheet:

  • Dimensions: 5.95 x 2.25 x 1.6 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Output capacity: 85 decibels
  • Battery life: about 10 hours of continuous play
  • USB: microUSB for charging
  • Stereo input: standard 3.5mm jack

Continue Reading…

lifeproof-fre-backAfter much anticipation, the Lifeproof frē ($80) arrived at Best Buy last week. Like its predecessor, this iPhone 5 case is designed to protect your smartphone from dirt, water, and drops… in a much more svelte form factor than the fairly well known ruggedized Otterbox line. Yet, while Lifeproof’s marketing materials are compelling, I don’t have much confidence in the reality.

My case survived the recommended one hour water test, sans phone, and I expect it would have done fine job protecting from splashes at the kitchen sink or in the rain. But there’s no way I’d be comfortable fully submerging the iPhone 5 — given the case’s construction, including an issue with the bottom corner that didn’t have a flush seal (below right) despite realigning the O ring. Also, speaking of construction, while the frē is certified to survive 6′ drops it’s less rugged feeling and thinner than the competition — so they’ve presumably achieved this feat via superior engineering, Continue Reading…