Archives For Gadgets

AT&T Kills U-Verse On Xbox

Dave Zatz —  December 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

We suppose it was inevitable that AT&T would drop U-verse support for the Xbox 360 sometime after Ericsson’s acquisition of Microsoft Mediaroom due to the complex Microsoft-centric integration. Not to mention, AT&T cites “low customer demand” in their decision to cease service come 12/31. Fortunately, AT&T is doing the right thing in compensating the small subset of customers who invested in the solution, via a media center remote purchase, Xbox Live Gold subscription, and installation fees, by crediting $99 to their accounts. While Microsoft sill has its sights set on living room Input 1, via Xbox One IR blasting HDMI pass-thru, this concludes the underwhelming IPTV chapter originally announced by Bill Gates at the 2007 edition of CES. As to AT&T, they currently have no plans to rejoin Comcast and Verizon on Xbox via a pure OTT U-verse app.

Elgato Smartkey

Both Elgato and Pogoplug have released new products this month… and the two gadgets are somewhat out of character, as the companies expand their product lines and seek new customers this holiday season.

Elgato, best known for video-related solutions is trying something completely with their Smart Key ($40). The doohickey uses low power Bluetooth to report its location to an iPhone or iPad, similar to others in this space such as StickNFind. While its primary use case may be attached to a keyring, Elgato also proposes throwing the Smart Key into a handbag or suitcase to keep an eye on one’s belongings. Beyond an iOS app, Continue Reading…

google-glass

As you may have heard, Google is expanding its Glass program beyond the initial couple thousand “Explorers” … and, by way of Tim Stevens (the “nicest guy in tech”), I received an invite. As an independent entity on a budget, versus a bankrolled journalist or celebrity, the potential $1500 fee stings. That amount could fund both a PS4 and an Xbone, with room for several accessories and games. Or the last plasma on earth. Or a solid projector. Or 6 crappy Chromebooks.

Yet Google Glass is a brand new product category, despite exploring augmented reality widgetry as far back the mid-90s with some grad school associates. It may or may not be more practical than a “smart” watch, but it’s way more compelling on a geek level… even if law enforcement isn’t a fan. The refreshed version supports lenses, starting with the new and included “twist-on Active Shade” Continue Reading…

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…