Night Stars Landscape Lights Add Sparkle to your Home

Night Stars Landscape Lights LogoAre you someone who struggles to put up (and take down) Christmas lights? I know that it is a bit early to start thinking about Christmas decorations. Even so, if you plan ahead you might be able to save yourself the hassle of putting up your outdoor Christmas lights after the weather gets cold and icy.

Night Stars Landscape Lights are laser lights that come in three different varieties: green, green and red, or green, red, and blue. They are designed to be used either indoors or outdoors. They project points of brightly colored lights onto walls, landscapes, pools, and whatever else you point them at. The purpose is to add some decorative effects and atmosphere to a party or celebration.

The lights have an optional flash/pulse setting. There is an RF remote that lets you control your Night Stars lights from anywhere in and around your home. They also have a built in timer that can run for 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours. There are instructions on their website that tells you how to set up the lights. It appears to be extremely important that you follow the directions and use the product only as directed.

The first thing I thought of when I saw these lights was that they resembled Christmas lights. The Night Stars Landscape Lights might be an interesting alternative for those who are not looking forward to climbing ladders, untangling cords, and going out into the cold to put up lights this year. The lights can be reused to add atmosphere to birthday parties and other celebrations.

Tablift Review

tabliftTablift is the most “borrowed” review item by my family members that I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. They say a picture is worth a 1000 words and in this case it really is.

Let me start out by saying that if you have ever used your tablet in bed your going to love this device. I will often spend a Sunday afternoon relaxing with a good book on my tablet. But after a couple of hours of reading that lite weight tablet may as well weigh a 100 pounds.

In steps Tablift whether your laying down, hanging out on the couch Tablift can hold your tablet in place. The most innovative place I saw Tablift being used was by my son. He reads sheet music on his tablet, and he uses Tablift to prop up his tablet on his desk in his bedroom so he could practice he Cello.

With the built in restraining strap, he could change pages quickly and not knock the tablet over.

For $59.00 you are going to get a lot of utility out of this device going hands free with your tablet, and if your like my house your gonna hear someone shout who has the Tablift.

Sennheiser Launches “Let Your Ears Be Loved” Campaign

Sennheiser UrbaniteSennheiser has launched an advertising campaign that includes some contests. Participation requires both online and offline activity. It is called Let Your Ears be Loved. The purpose is to feature Sennheiser’s Urbanite headphones. The ads that go along with the contest are unique.

The target audience of the ads are the generation of Millennials who Sennheiser’s believes want headphones that not only sound good but also look good. As such, they created an idea that emphasizes how much one’s ears will love the Urbanite headphones.

Personally, I find the ads uncomfortable. Each features a “love scene” in which a person who is dressed like an Urbanite headphone is pampering a giant ear. The headphone has a German accent. In one ad, the ear is lying across a massage table and the headphone is providing the massage. In another, the ear is in a bubble bath, and the headphone is outside the bath tub and holding a washcloth.

To me, it’s a little icky. That being said, I’m in my 40’s, and not the demographic that Sennheiser is trying to attract with this particular ad campaign. Maybe Millennials, people who are between the ages of 18 and 25, see the ads completely differently than I do. I’ll give Sennheiser this: the ads are very creative!

Part of the “Let Your Ears Be Loved” campaign are contests in which someone will win free Urbanite headphones. To participate, you must go to the website and select one of the “romantic” videos to watch. Next, share that video on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. After you do that, a clue will appear on the Sennheiser website. The clue gives you an idea of where in New York City to go looking for a golden ear. Those who find a golden ear will receive free Urbanite headsets. This contest runs from September 12 through September 21, 2014, in New York City. A similar contest will be held in London starting October 20 and ending November 2, 2014.

Or, you could participate in the “Show Me Your Ears” portion of the campaign. Take an “ear selfie” and post it to Instagram. Tag that selfie with @Sennheiserurbanite and #Earlove. The best ones will win free Urbanites. This contest is limited to people who live in the United States, Canada, and members of the European Union. Visit the Sennheiser website for more details.

Robot Underpants: 09.10.14 (168) “Apple Did A Thing”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, Eric Rice and “Starman” Michael Gaines bring you this week’s hot topics including: Apple Stuffs, Joan Rivers, Gmail Hacked?, Dutch Girl Fakes Asian Trip on Facebook, Minority Report on TV, Trebek’s stache Returns, Microsoft Minecraft and more!

* Apple Stuff
* GMail Hack
* Dutch Girl Fakes Vacation
* Minority Report TV Show
* Trebek Mustache
* Jeff Goldblum Singalong
* Richard Kiel (Jaws) Dies
* All Girl Ghostbusters
* Ghost in the Shell Casting
* Joan Rivers Dies
*  Microsoft May Buy Minecraft
* Destiny Game
*Famous Outfits

Bracketron Smartphone Mounts Use Magnets

Bracketron Smartphone mountWhat do you do with your smartphone when you get into your vehicle? It’s not safe to hold it in your hand while driving. Bracketron, an industry leader in universal mounting solutions for today’s most popular mobile devices has come up with a solution. They have created two different types of dashboard mounts that your smartphone can go into.

The Earth Elements Si Dash Mount attaches directly to most hard and textured surfaces (including your windshield). The Earth Elements O2 Vent Mount can be attached to horizontal or vertical air vents. Both mounts are collapsible, adjustable and feature integrated cord management for charging cables to keep them out of the way.

Bracketron says these mounts work with the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Google Nexus. Attaching your phone to the mounts is easy. All you need to do is stick a magnetic mounting plate to the back of your smartphone. They have 3M adhesive on them. It can be used with phones that have a case or ones that are without a case. Click your phone into place on the mount. The magnetic plates hold it in place.

Archos Smart Home Review

Archos LogoThese days it’s either i-this or smart-that with new gadgets measuring and changing our personal environment. From Fitbit to Philips Hue, the internet of things is steadily growing and into this increasingly connected world, French firm Archos have stepped in. Their Smart Home tablet wirelessly connects sensors to a central hub that monitors and initiates actions based on conditions. Archos kindly lent me a Smart Home to raise the IQ of my house. Let’s take a look.

Archos Smart Home Box

In the box there’s the Smart Home tablet, plus six connected objects; two mini-cams, two movement tags and two weather tags. The tablet itself looks much like a digital photo frame but it’s actually a small 7″ device running Android 4.2.

Archos Smart Home Front View

Archos Smart Home Rear View

In the looks department, the Smart Home tablet fits the bill with styling that wouldn’t look out of place in a living room. It is all plastic, including the screen which seems to be acrylic rather than glass, but perhaps will better withstand being knocked. Some thought has been given to the design as the screen’s viewing angle appears to be have been adjusted slightly so that screen looks good when someone looks down at it, rather than straight on. There’s only about 2.5 GB of free memory on-board but there is a microSD card slot to boost the Smart Home’s capacity. Performance-wise, it’s no speed demon with a 1.2 GHz ARM processor, but as most of the time the Smart Home just sits there receiving data, it’s a not a big deal. A camera and a thermometer are built into the tablet too and these can be used to take pictures and measure the temperatureas well as the connected objects.

The connected objects are shown below with the mini-cam, weather tag and movement tag from left to right. All have sticky pads which allow adhesion to flat surfaces round the house. The mini-cam ball is held in the foot by magnets and it means the ball can oriented in almost any direction. The weather tag measures temperature and humidity, and the movement tag can measure both motion and door opening / closing.

Archos Smart Home Sensors

Getting setup is easy and straightforward. Running the Archos Smart Home software initially asks for the different rooms where devices are located.

Smart Home Rooms

Once the rooms are setup, the connected objects can be added into the relevant room. The objects use Bluetooth rather than Zigbee and pairing is simply a case of holding down a button on the connected object for 5 seconds. It worked flawlessly. The pairing screen shows all the objects available, not only the ones in the box.

Accessories

Once all setup, the Smart Home tablet presents a view with the room and all the objects in the room.

Hall

In the Hall, I had two mini-cams, a weather tag and a movement tag. Tapping on any device in the app then gives more data or information – here’s the weather tag showing data over the past week for both temperature and humidity.

Temperature and Humidity

Great but how do we get from monitoring the weather to doing something smart? Archos have the answer by building simple “if this, do that” programs. For example, if temperature falls below two degrees Celsius, email to me “It might be slippy.” Or more usefully, if the door opens, take a picture and send an email – like this.

Program

Sure enough, when the front door is opened, I get an email (my personal email is address is obscured by the black box).

Mail

 

The mini-cam also takes a picture (or a short video) but they won’t show a live feed, presumably because Bluetooth can’t transfer the data very quickly. You’ll notice one of the slight problems….the Smart Home doesn’t really take pictures fast enough as in many of the photos the person who opened the door has already moved out of shot. These are all real life photos, nothing was staged. A mini-cam positioned further down the hall generally did better at getting people entering the property.

Minicam Pictures

Out of the box, there’s a fairly limited range of actions such as send email, turn on plug and so on, but Smart Home can use the Tasker app to do more. Tasker supports a wide range of actions, including starting other apps, which makes it quite a powerful solution. However, even this simple email-me-on-the-front-door-opening is useful when wanting to know if someone has arrived home safely (or a thief has broken into your house!)

Other nifty features are that the Smart Home can be accessed from other tablets or smartphones. After a straightforward authorisation process, the system can be viewed from other devices both inside and outside the house. Here’s what it looks like on my smartphone.

Smartphone View

Overall, the Smart Home worked well, mostly sitting on the table doing its job. I did find that I mostly used my ordinary tablet (a Nexus 7)  to work with the Smart Home rather than picking up the unit itself. I set the Smart Home tablet up as a digital photo frame using the standard Android Daydream screensaver to fit into the room.

There were a couple of problems, the first being the range and penetration of Bluetooth. I live in a modest house with brick walls which meant that the weather tag at the rear of the property couldn’t be picked up if the Smart Home tablet was in the front room. Secondly, battery life – the mini-cams seemed get through a set of batteries in about a fortnight and each one took three CR2450 button cells. The movement and weather tags weren’t quite so bad – perhaps a month and only one battery. As an aside there’s no way of muting the low battery warnings that appear in orange on the screen. A connected object could be disconnected but that deleted the historical date at the same time.

Bizarrely, the other problem was how I felt about spying on my family, which is not anything to do with the Archos Smart Home, so I’ll save that for another post. I can see the Smart Home working for families with children that come home when the parents are still at work and the email notifications would give any parent a measure of comfort that their son or daughter is home safe.

The Smart Home costs GB£199 from Archos’ online store. Other additional connected objects are “coming soon”, including an HD weatherproof camera and a siren tag. In summary, the Smart Home is a well integrated system that has room for expansion with more types of connected objects but watch out for the limitations of Bluetooth range and battery life.

Thanks to Archos for the loan of the Smart Home.

 

GNC #977 Welcome Health Tech Weekly!

I take some time and talk about the changes here, including the website update and migrating the shows on GNC to their own domains. I wan to welcome Jamie Davis in bringing his Health Tech Weekly show to GNC. I look forward to you checking out his show and the health tech insights he is going to bring to our family of shows. All the standard tech news as well.

Consider becoming a GNC 1000 Contributor:

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Welcome HTWeekly.com to GNC Family

HT_Weekly_iTunesI want to welcome Jamie Davis and his show Health Tech Weekly (HTWeekly.com) to the Geek News Central Family. Jaime and I have worked together for a number of years on a variety of projects. So it is with great pleasure that I welcome him to our family of shows.

We have entered an age where our health activities will be monitored by the tech we wear and what our doctors prescribe. We are also seeing huge advancements in medicine through the technology that the medical profession utilizes and Jaime and his team will bring you all the latest.

This is the second show we have added to our family of shows this year and I look forward to working with Jaime and his team.

Angry Birds Stella debuts on Android, iOS, Blackberry, Amazon and Nook

Rovio has become synonymous with mobile gaming, thanks to the wildly popular Angry Birds franchise. The Finnish company has released multiple versions of the title, covering everything from Rio to Space, and even Star Wars. Now the long-awaited new one is here, with Angry Birds Stella debuting across multiple platforms — sorry Windows Phone users, but you were left out.

The new game adds a different dimension to Angry Birds (as each has managed to do). “Angry Birds Stella offers a new take on slingshot action. There are stunning visuals and animations, as well as an all-new flock of feisty characters with amazing superpowers. And they all live a previously unseen corner of the Angry Birds universe: Golden Island”, the studio explains.

The game is free on all of platforms, including Android, iOS, Blackberry and Amazon. It’s a fun little time-waster that will likely get the company even more revenue, but time will tell on that one.

stella_Key_Art_C_landscape

 

Sennheiser Announces Urbanite Range and Momentum In-Ears

Sennheiser has been busy over the past few days announcing two new products, Urbanite headphones and Momentum In-Ear earbuds, both of which look outstanding.

Sennheiser Urbanite HeadphonesThe new Urbanite headphones are aimed at the fashion-conscious Gen Ys, with a high quality product that emphasises bass.

“Sennheiser Urbanite headphones are for the generation of Millennials who know more and demand more. They love their tunes heavy and love to look good, but are smart consumers who won’t compromise on quality. They want bass but want it done right,” says Tim Voelker, Director of Sales and Marketing. Ok, so Sennheiser are taking the fight to Beats. Good luck.

The Urbanite range has two models, the standard on-ear and an over-ear, the Urbanite XL, with larger earpads. There’s a wide choice of colours, including denim, with some colours exclusive to each model. To control music on the go, the Urbanites have an in-line remote with microphone, and there are versions for both Apple iOS and Android devices.

Priced at GB£149.99 and GB£199.99 for the standard and XL respectively, the Urbanite headphones are available now.

The Momentum In-Ear buds extend the Momentum range from over-the-ear, through on-the-ear to into the ear and if they’re anything like the Momentum On-Ears that I tested earlier in the year, they should be both amazingly well designed and sound fantastic.

Momentum In-Ears

Available in black and red and made in stainless steel with chrome detailing, the In-Ears use proprietary Sennheiser transducer technology which “carefully replicates the sound signature that characterises the Momentum range: a powerful bass response, detailed vocal projection and a great sound stage.”

The Momentum In-Ears have a three button in-line remote with integrated for both controlling the music and taking phone calls. The earphones will come in two versions, one for Apple iOS devices and one primarily for Android devices, though it should work with Windows too.

The Momentum In-Ears will be available in time for Christmas for €99 and US$99.95.