Archives For Gadgets

tplink-wr702n

For many years, I’ve relied upon a small ASUS wireless bridge (WL-330gE) for a variety of blog and personal projects around the house. And, frankly, I’m long overdue for a 802.11n upgrade… especially as I consider a second TiVo Mini – in my kitchen, lacking both coax and Ethernet connectivity. I’d originally considered having Verizon wire me up with another FiOS TV jack but, after their recent rate increases, that’s off the table. Powerline is another option, and probably a safer bet than wireless, yet I remain firmly anti-clutter.

So I briefly took a look at ASUS’ latest and greatest portable router (WL-330N), which does indeed add higher speed, greater distance 802.11n capabilities — but at $47 it was a bit more than I cared to spend for this sort of product. Not to mention, configuration of my model has always been something of a pain. Enter the TP-Link TL-WR702N Continue Reading…

Unannounced Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker already on sale for $199.99

Vizio Costar

Despite a rocky launch and Chromecast availability, Google TV soldiers on. And, at $100, the Vizio Costar is the most economical of the bunch. After a number of software updates, including availability of a full-on Amazon Instant app, the Costar warrants a look. Also unique at this price point is Google TV‘s HDMI pass-thru functionality, allowing you to overlay the UI on top of another set-top or the HDTV itself – merging multiple sources onto a single television input. Further, the (bulky) QWERTY remote has an integrated IR blaster to potentially control those other aforementioned content sources. Due to a USPS/FedEx shipping debacle along with kind intervention by Vizio PR, we ultimately ended up with two units. Our pain is your gain and this brand spanking new Vizio Costar is up for grabs to Zatz Not Funny Facebook fans located in the US and you can enter using the embedded widget below. The giveaway ends at midnight tonight (EST), so act fast. Good luck! Continue Reading…

kindle-paperwhite2

Exactly one year ago, I received Amazon’s first illuminated Kindle. And the Paperwhite display did not live up to the breathless marketing hype (and product imagery). I tried to give it a chance, but ultimately the smudgy, cross hatching towards the bottom of the display was more of a distraction than the lighting was a benefit… and the Kindle was returned. So when v2 was announced about a month ago, I wondered aloud if the lighting had been improved – with The Verge Editor-in-Chief assuring me it was. And now that mine has arrived, after only about 3-4 hours of reading, I concur: the $119 Kindle Paperwhite (v2) is a keeper. Screen illumination is significantly more even, no longer a distraction, and touch recognition/responsiveness is similarly improved.

As to my prior Kindle(s), Continue Reading…

samsung-smart-cable-boxThanks to a recently uncovered Amazon listing, we now have a bit more detail on Samsung’s upcoming hybrid set-top box that mates digital cable, via CableCARD, with over-the-top Internet apps like Netflix. Sorta like a TiVo. Without a hard drive or DVR capabilities…

The curious Samsung solution, first uncovered via FCC filings and later filmed in action at the Cable Show, looks primed to launch early November at $200 as a “Smart Cable Box” that includes WiFi. I suppose it might make a decent enough den or kitchen TV accessory, but given ongoing CableCARD complexity (and rental fee) it might be simplest to augment an operator’s basic cable box with an inexpensive Roku for similar results.

flarewatch

Another one bites the dust… Cox Communication’s over the top flareWatch television experiment has come to an end, with customers being notified of service termination and refunds (1, 2) while the landing page indicates “Service Unavailable.” The offering, built upon FanTV hardware, was intended to provide advanced television services, including cloud DVR and VOD, to cord cutters (who’d effectively replace one cord for another). Next?

mybestbuy
Best Buy has just announced they are replacing their “Reward Zone” loyalty program with “My Best Buy” — promising greater rewards, such as free shipping, and more mobile integration, including bonus points for “checking in” at stores. And certainly my Best Buy expenditures have increased given permanent Amazon price matching (and their recent store redesign doesn’t hurt). From the email blast:

Thank you for being a loyal Reward Zone® member. I’m pleased to announce that after a decade, the program you love is getting even better. We’re reinventing the Reward Zone program as My Best Buy™ — delivering more rewards, more exclusives and an improved mobile experience.

As an existing Reward Zone member the change is easy — you’re already enrolled. In fact, all of your account information remains the same, including your member number, point balance and any available reward certificates. Even the points you get with every purchase stay the same. With My Best Buy your benefits are even better:

  • Free Shipping on BestBuy.com orders of $25 or more
  • The Hottest Deals in Advance with early access to special sales
  • Exclusive Savings with special offers reserved only for our members
  • Member-Only Access to special shopping events
  • And so much more