SolPad is Disrupting the Solar Power Industry at CES



SolPad logoFree energy. It’s a dream shared by every homeowner when it’s time to pay the monthly utility bill. The closest thing we’ve got to a true “free energy machine” is solar power. These systems harness light from the sun and convert that light into electricity that can then be used by anything and everything in the home. For years, solar power has been a steady but still kinda slow-growth industry. That may change soon thanks to new technology being developed by SolPad.

Tedd stopped by the SolPad booth to speak with Chris, where he learned about SolPad’s new portable and home-based solar power offerings. Some highlights from their discussion:

  • SolPad has a complete solar solution that includes panels, battery, and an efficient inverter
  • Wireless connectivity to control SolPad systems from mobile devices
  • Portable SolPad panels use the same technology as roof-based panels
  • SolPad panels “snap” together like Lego pieces, which can reduce the cost of installation by up to 50%
  • SolPad systems run on a “net zero” concept designed to not push power back into the electrical grid
  • SolPad panels come with a 25-year warranty, SolPad batteries come with a 10-year warranty

Pricing is not yet available for SolPad products but the company will be releasing that information soon.

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Norton Introduces Norton Core Router at CES



Norton LogoNorton has been a mainstay in digital security for decades. The company is best known for its suite of antivirus and anti-malware tools that runs on many PCs. Norton is now taking the next step in secure computing with the introduction of the Norton Core router.

Todd spoke with Shagorika from Norton. She noted that this is the first piece of hardware ever developed by Norton. Here are some noteworthy specs from the device:

  • Norton Core takes action to secure a network when it detects a problem
  • Puts IoT devices on a separate network from computers and can quarantine devices if a compromise is detected
  • High performance router supports up to 2.5Gb per second data transfer
  • Easily configurable guest access networks
  • Mobile app provides easy interface for configuring the router
  • Router provides a security score that helps you keep your network(s) secure

The Norton Core router is available now for pre-order at a discounted price of $199.

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Olloclip Pivot Grips Smartphones at CES



Olloclip is well-known for its clip-on lens system for the Apple iPhone, though new at CES is the Olloclip Pivot, a grip for smartphones, cameras and GoPros. Todd finds out more from Patrick.

The Olloclip Pivot grip is a bit different from an ordinary handheld smartphone holder as it incorporates an articulating hub which provides 225° of rotation so that the camera can be positioned conveniently to capture the best shot, whether skating, boarding or simply at the beach. The Pivot is water resistant so can be taken swimming or snorkelling.

The Pivot holds smartphones between 4″ and 5.5″ wide, and also takes a GoPro. There’s an integrated cold shoe mount too for lightweight accessories like a light or microphone.  Priced at US$49.99, the Pivot is available now. I want one!

In addition to the Pivot, Olloclip have a new set of lenses for the iPhone 7, including wide angle, fish eye and macro. The core lens set is US$100.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Elgato Unleashes Thunderbolt 3 Dock at CES



Elgato LogoMuch publicity, good or bad, was made over the recent updates to Apple’s MacBook Pro line of laptop computers. “Where are all the ports?” was a constant refrain from critics who didn’t like the line’s lack of traditional I/O. It’d definitely be inconvenient to carry a collection of dongles around with that shiny new MBP in order to get all those old ports back. That’s why clever companies like Elgato have designed powerful laptop docks like the new Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

Todd spoke with Lars from Elgato at CES 2017. Lars gave some impressive specs on the Thunderbolt 3 Dock, including:

  • One cable will charge your laptop and carry all data
  • Connect up to two 4K displays
  • 3 USB ports
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Audio input and audio output jacks

The Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock will be available for purchase within the next month and will sell for $299.

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Kanex Wins with the GoPower Watch at CES



Kicking off GNC’s video production for CES, Todd’s at award-winners Kanex with Tracy, who shows off some of their latest accessories for the Apple Watch.

Kanex won a “Innovation Honoree” at CES 2017 for their GoPower Watch, a portable battery charge for the Apple Watch. Priced at US$99 and shipping now, the GoPower Watch will wirelessly recharge a Watch around six times from the 4,000 mAh battery. There’s a USB port round the back for charging other devices too and it’s Apple Certified as well. A mini-version with a smaller battery and smaller price (US$59) is coming shortly.

For those who don’t need to charge on the go, Kanex have a table-top charger for the office or beside the bed coming shortly. It’s US$59 and will be available in February.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Post Truth



As the events of 2016 unfolded with the subsequent impacts on 2017, I’ve been thinking about the phenomena that has been dubbed as “post truth” and the sacrifice of critical thinking in return for likes and retweets. Those thoughts have taken me back to my school days and an enlightened English Literature teacher who encouraged us to challenge and critique the information presented to us.

As a naive schoolchild, one imagined that newspapers, magazines and television spoke “the truth”. It was a revelation that this was not the case but simply comparing the same news story in two national newspapers, say, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, it became evident the political tendencies of each broadsheet became written into the narrative, and there was no such thing as objective truth.

And I will never forget the propaganda of news reporting during times of conflict. Our military are “heroes” or “liberators” whereas the other side are “jack-booted stormtroopers” and “thugs”. We launch “pre-emptive strikes”, they have “cowardly sneak attacks”. Once you know about it, you’ll see it in much war reporting, particularly if the news organisation is from a country involved in the conflict.

But of even greater value is not to ask, “Is this true or false?” but “Why do they want me to know this?” Substitute in the government, organisation or web site of your choice, and this question will serve you well.


GNC #1171 Amazon to Rule the World!



I share with you why national retailers are shaking in the boats. Amazon gets it and they are going to continue to change the way you shop. They are ahead of the curve and companies are going to have to work hard to keep up. The personal touch is always great but let me tell you they are going to continue to disrupt. If your company does not have a relationship with Amazon you better think twice.

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Executive Producer: Isaiah Garcia

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Quarter of Card Payments Contactless in UK



Fresh figures from the UK Cards Association shows that a quarter of card payments are now contactless in the UK. With 325 million purchases made using contactless debit and credit cards in November 2016, this accounted for 25% of all card payments.

Contactless payments are growing rapidly in popularity as it was only in August 2016 that the 20% barrier was broken. It’s impressive growth and no doubt helped by the 102 million credit and debit cards in the country. For comparison the contactless payment rate was 11% in November 2015, more than doubling in a year.

Interestingly, the average payment was GB£8.95, which reflects the convenient use for low cost items. The maximum for contactless payment is GB£30. Anything above that requires a PIN.

On a personal note, two out of my three regularly used credit/debit cards are now enabled for contactless payment and it is convenient, though I have to admit that I never saw putting in a PIN as very onerous or time consuming; it takes longer for the receipt to come out….now that would be a service improvement – imagine you could tie your email address to your card and that instead of printing a receipt, it was emailed directly to you. Genius!.

The UK Cards Association is the trade body for the card payments industry in the UK. The full press release is here. Safe PIN Entry image courtesy of UK Cards Association.


GNC #1170 I’m Back!



Are you ready for the CES content. All of our recorded interviews are on their way to the editor and we should have fresh content for you next week. I talk about the show and what comes next. This is not a show you are going to want to miss.

For CES Coverage this website, TPN.TV and my Facebook page is where the action will happen.

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It’s Decluttering Time!



After the excess of Christmas, guilt often brings us round to New Year’s resolutions. It goes without saying that I’m going to lose weight and become fitter (I’ve a new Fitbit Blaze to help); spend more time with my family and friends; and not be late for events or appointments. All laudable goals.

In addition to these stalwarts of January, I’m going to commit to de-cluttering my life as much as possible. I’m not aiming for full out austerity but if there’s something that I’m never likely to use again it’s going. Boxes, bags, clothes, toys, tech, whatever. If it’s taking space without giving value, it’s time for it to find a new home outside of mine.

I have crates of old tech for that possible future when I resurrect a couple of 90s-era PCs to play Star Wars: X-Wing v Tie Fighter in head-to-head mode. Serial cables, gender changes, 10base2 network cards, floppy drives. Seriously, it’s never going to happen. Time to dump the lot and stop hoarding.

In addition to the physical, my digital life needs a good tidy too. My inbox is full of adverts and promotions from shops and stores trying to sell me more stuff which I don’t need. I’ve had enough. Instead of wasting twenty minutes of the day deleting unwanted emails, I’m ruthlessly unsubscribing and unless I’m actually going to read the email, it’s gone.

Social media…..what a time sink! For starters, all notifications are going. If I log on (at a time of my choosing) and see new pictures, great. Otherwise, I don’t want an email, alert or other distraction imploring me to DO IT NOW. Whatever it is, it can wait. Sorry Google+, Ello and Pinterest, but I’m slimming down on my social exposure and you’re out of here.

Finally, having a OnePlus 2 with 64GB means that in well over a year of use, I’ve never had to worry about running out of memory or storage. The downside is that my smartphone is full of apps and media, many of which never get any screen time. Some apps haven’t been used in months, so it’s time to uninstall those and reclaim the launcher space.

It’s a digital declutter! What are you going to do differently this year?