Archives For Accessories

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…

Thanks to our pal Khaled, we’re back with several unannounced Logitech goodies on tap this fall. While they’re probably not as unique as the WiFi webcam broadcaster, solid computing accessories are a necessity. And I’ve long been a proponent of Logitech’s keyboard and mouse solutions.

Touch Mouse (T620)
The Touch Mice are slated to arrive in both black and white and will retail for $69 according to B&H Photo. While there’s no description, one can assume that the touch mouse is, er, a touch mouse – and the logical successor to the M600. It’s my understanding this may be a PC model, whereas the Mac model will go by T631.

Zone Mouse (T400)
Unlike the Touch Mouse that is presumably covered by a responsive surface, the Logitech Zone Mouse  looks to have a very specific touch sensitive zone. And while I generally appreciate shiny things, I much prefer the T400′s black matte styling over the T620. MacMall has this one at $62.

Rechargeable Touchpad (T651)
The Bluetooth touchpad above looks to replicate what Apple offers. But as opposed to replacing those Duracels every few months, Logitech integrated rechargeable battery. Not to mention this is cross platform. MacMall has it listed for $94, but we’ve seen it as high as $110… and assume it’ll land somewhere in the middle upon release.

beo-play-sleeve

Out looking for a couch, we swung by the neighboring Bang & Olufsen whilst percolating our seating options.  And, boy, were we wooed by B&O’s relatively new BeoPlay A3. Labeling this product an iPad “dock” doesn’t do it justice — not to mention, we hear the dock is dead. This BeoPlay is basically a speaker chasis for your iPad, that kindly integrates a 6-hour rechargeable battery. While B&O is quick to point out the audio quality (3 tweeters, 1 woofer) of this device, being shallow, I’m most impressed by its good looks… with flush tablet fit and multiple display orientations/positions. The A3 ships with two iPad sleeves (to account for all three iPad generations) and, when mated with a tablet, easily pops out of the device using the B&O button on the rear. This would make the most killer kitchen TV. But I’d prefer a few more color options. And perhaps a lower price of entry… At $549, it’s more costly than many iPads it would encase. No one said looking good is economical.

In case you’re not getting enough mobile video with Netflix, HBO Go and the like, the Mobile Content Venture (MCV) has you covered. MCV is the alliance behind Dyle mobile TV, and it’s just signed on a new hardware partner to help turn your smartphone or tablet into a TV-tuning delight. Elgato is the third hardware partner MCV’s announced, and, like Belkin, it’s working on an accessory that will plug into your device for access to over-the-air Dyle TV stations. MCV also has a deal with MetroPCS to launch a Samsung phone with embedded Dyle support. The first Dyle products, including Elgato’s EyeTV Mobile TV, should reportedly be available for the holiday shopping season later this year.

It’s still hard to know if live-broadcast mobile TV will take off, but if the service stays free, it’s got a shot. Dave and I both saw Dyle in action at the CES on the Hill event back in April, and there’s a compelling proposition in being able to watch TV without racking up gigabytes against your mobile broadband cap. However, MCV is also focusing heavily on conditional access (i.e. content protection) features, which may signal that the venture’s backers are considering a service fee in the future. MCV says that conditional access technology is critical for audience measurement (i.e. advertising), but it’s also not promising there won’t be a cost at some point for viewing Dyle stations.

Currently there are nearly 100 Dyle stations broadcasting in 35 markets. Grab your Elgato or Belkin adapter later this year, and if you’re in one of the lucky regions with coverage, you can start tuning in. Content partners include Fox, NBC, Cox Media Group, Gannet Broadcasting, and more.