SuperNova – A Bluetooth Speaker and LED Light Show

ThinkGeek SuperNovaThinkGeek, my favorite place to shop when I’m on a quest to obtain the perfect gift for the geeks in my life, has launched something new and interesting. The SuperNova Light Cube LED Bluetooth Speaker comes from their GeekLabs Division. It could definitely put a little extra fun into your celebrations.

The SuperNova Light Cube LED Bluetooth Speaker combines a powerful Bluetooth speaker with a brilliant LED light show. It features a total of 36 different patterns. There is a high-fidelity Bluetooth speaker in the base of the SuperNova. Music can be played wirelessly via a Bluetooth-enabled device or through the standard audio port.

On top of the speaker sits the most visually dynamic part of the SuperNova. It is a cube with an array of LED lights and prisms. Each light prism simultaneously transmits, refracts, and projects the LED light below it. People can chose from among the 36 patterns and select the one that they feel best fits the mood.

It is also possible to have SuperNova’s LED prism array going without also having music playing. This allows people to enjoy some peace and quiet and still have the sensory experience of the multi-colored, changing, LED show. The SuperNova is available now at ThinkGeek for $99.99.

GNC #996 Black Friday Special

I have some deals for you if your looking to spend some money for some gear and gadgets, plus I have a stack of tech news and information. Have a great Thanksgiving Ohana.

Join me in a 10 day transformation following the Thanksgiving holiday. You will save $50.00 on your Total Transformation by using the promo code Podcast @ mypurium.com/podcast when you purchase your transformation kit.. Get healthy before the new year with me.

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Huawei Ascend Y550 Smartphone Review

From the level of press coverage, it’s very easy to think that the only smartphones on the market have huge screens and price tags to match. If it’s not an iPhone 6 Plus or Nexus 6, it’s not worth talking about. Contrary to the column inches, there’s a wide selection of phones that have smaller screens for less cash which still offer a great deal. Which brings us to the Huawei Ascend Y550 4G Android smartphone. Let’s take a look.

Y550 with Pencil

The Huawei Ascend Y550 doesn’t stray too far from the “black slab” formula: 4.5″ screen on the front, camera in the top centre on the back with flash to one side, headphone jack on the top, micro USB on the bottom, volume and power buttons on the right. It’s not super-slim phone but at 9.5 mm and a little over 150g, it’s in the right spot. The Y550 feels comfortable in the hand, though the graphite-coloured back is fairly smooth and I think a case would be recommended to avoid the phone slipping to disastrous end.

Y550 Cover OffSpecwise, it’s a 4.5″ IPS screen with 480 x 854 pixel resolution driven by a Qualcomm MSM8916 Quad-Core 1.2 GHz processor and supported by 1 GB RAM but only 4 GB of storage, of which less than 2 GB is available to the user. Getting the back off the phone is easy as there’s a notch in the back cover to use with your fingernail. Inside, there’s the battery, micro SIM and micro SD slots, which can be used to upgrade the storage. Physically, the screen seems to be polycarbonate; there’s no Gorilla Glass here but that’s not surprising at this price point.

There’s the usual accoutrement of radios – wifi 11gbn, Bluetooth 4, GPS and of course, this is a 4G phone. Overall, the phone is 133 mm x 68 mm x 9.5 mm. The battery is 2000 mAh, which keeps the phone going for at least a day on normal use, but firing up Ingress will hit the battery just as on any other phone. The main camera is 5MP autofocus and will record 720p video. The front facing camera is 2MP with a fixed focus. I was pleasantly surprised with the photos from the main camera – colour reproduction was good even in overcast conditions.

Settings Unsurprisingly it’s Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) under the hood but Huawei have added their own Emotion UI on top, which goes in entirely the opposite direction to Google’s Material Design. Instead of flat blocks of colour, Emotion uses shading and three dimension effects and frankly, doesn’t look too bad at all. The other big difference is that there’s no difference between the Desktop and Drawer screens, with all the apps accessible from the Desktop. Widgets and regularly used apps can be added to the screens as well so it’s a bit different from what many people might be used to.

Simple HomeIf this is too complicated, Simple Home is a tab-style combined dialer and app launcher that I assume is aimed at older people with a maximum of 8 apps or contacts per screen in grid layout. Dare I say it, but the layout is reminiscent of Microsoft’s Modern UI with slightly rounded edges.

Huawei have added their Emotion UI to most of the built-in apps and there are a few extra value-adding apps provided to including Cast, which lets you share your phone screen with friends and Remote Camera, which turns the phone into a webcam that can be accesses across the ‘net. Notifications have been improved too in keeping with the Emotion look and feel.

Geekbench 3Checking the performance, Geekbench 3 scored the Y550 at 468 on on the single core and 1348 on the multicore. Interesting, the two year old Nexus 4 scores similarly at 473 / 1477 and I’d say that’s a fair reflection of the Y550 in use. Apps were responsive and there was no lag.

The lack of RAM does occasionally reveal itself and the most obvious instance of this was when an app launched the camera app to take a picture with the expectation of switching back to the original app. On some occasions, I’d find that the original app would have closed while taking the photo and would have to restart. It’s no big deal.

Phone CrashThe other problem that I had which was a bit more disconcerting was the that the phone module would sometimes crash. It never happened while I was on a call but it would take about half a minute for the phone module to reset and services to resume. Huawei need to get this fixed – this particular handset may be an early review model so take that into consideration. I’ll update the review as I hear more.

Overall the Huawei Ascend Y550 is representative of a £100 off-contract phone and it’s good to see 4G reaching this price point. The Y550 does feel more expensive in the hand but is let down by the small amount of storage RAM; 8 GB would seem more appropriate as this would give the user around 6 GB  to use. The Emotion UI is both a pro and a con, although the Simple Home is handy for less experienced users. If you are in the market for a phone at this level, put it on your list.

The Ascend Y550 is available for retailers for around £100 SIM-free or on contract from Carphone Warehouse at £10 per month.

Thanks to Huawei for the loan of the Ascend Y550.

Huawei TalkBand B1 Review

Huawei Logo2014 seems to have been the year of the fitness tracker and there will be plenty nestling underneath the Christmas tree come 25th December. Huawei has joined the market with the TalkBand B1, a wrist-worn fitness and sleep tracker fused with a Bluetooth earpiece. You may think that this is a somewhat odd combination so let’s take a look at the TalkBand B1 and see whether walking and talking is a killer combination.

The Huawei TalkBand B1 was first shown back in February at Mobile World Congress and it hasn’t change much since then. The B1 consists of a coloured wristband (white, grey, black, yellow, red and blue) with an embedded 1.4″ OLED display that shows the current time, steps taken, calories burned and time snoozed. The button on the top moves the display between the four different stats. The wristband comes in two sizes, small and large: the review unit was the small one and I could only just get the B1 on my wrist using the very end holes – if you are buying, make sure that you get the right size.

Huawei Talkband B1

When a phone call comes into a paired phone, the screen shows the caller or phone number, but where’s the Bluetooth earpiece? Cleverly, the OLED display unit pops out of the wristband and becomes the earpiece. As you’d expect, the display shows who is on the line when the phone rings. The earpiece was comfortable to wear but it’s not that secure, though there are three different sizes of loop to help keep it in the ear, but I think you’d only wear it while on a call and put it back when you are done.

Huawei Talkband B1 Earpiece

Huawei Talkband B1 earpiece

The TalkBand B1 charges via a USB connector cleverly hidden in the strap. The battery life is good and over the two week loan, I only had to charge the band a few times. YMMV as they say. The B1 is IP57 rated so it’s water resistant enough that jogging in the rain won’t be a problem.

Huawei Talkband B1 USB

In use the B1 seemed reasonably accurate. I say “reasonably” because if I walked 10 deliberate steps and checked the counter I would have done 10 steps, but I found that the B1 didn’t always count more casual steps. For example, one afternoon when I did a combination of walking, standing and sitting, my Fitbit said that I’d done 2780 steps to the B1’s 2330. I guess it depends on your point of view as to whether you only want full steps to count towards your daily 10,000 steps (which can be changed to suit your own goals).

The B1 also tracks sleep and kept a good note of that – it appeared to easily tell the difference between lounging on the sofa and having a good snooze. If you have been still too long, the B1 will buzz you and show a little animation to encourage a bit of stretching or movement. The instructions suggested the time between prompts could be altered but I couldn’t see how to do it; it’s possible that it was an iOS feature not available on Android which brings us neatly to the app.

A complementary (and complimentary) app syncs the step and sleep information via Bluetooth from the Talkband B1 to both Android and iOS smartphones, showing stats on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I was using the Android version.

Summary

Activity Graph

Sleep Tracking

The app is straightforward but doesn’t offer much beyond recording activity and some simple interpretation. Disappointingly, there didn’t wasn’t the possibility to upload or share the information between multiple devices, which I think is very much needed when most people have both tablets and smartphones. As mentioned earlier and from reading the instructions, it would appear that the iOS app has greater functionality but I wasn’t able to check that out.

In terms of negatives, the main downside of the Talkband B1 is its size and that it rises well above the wrist. For me, I found it wouldn’t slide under shirt sleeves and in particular, it caught on my trouser pocket every time I reached in to get my wallet out. On the plus side, the instant availability of a Bluetooth headset was great, especially when driving.

Overall, the Huawei TalkBand B1 worked well and was useful but because of the size I’d find it hard to recommend as an everyday wear fitness tracker. I could very much see myself keeping it in my sports bag and putting it on before going for a run or using the treadmill. The Bluetooth earpiece was handy too, so if  the next iteration was a bit smaller or flatter, it could be a winner.

The TalkBand B1 is available from retailers for around GB£100. Thanks to Huawei for the loan of the TalkBand B1.

GNC #995 Uber PR Disaster

Push came to shove folks and I had to order a new Mac Pro Ouch :). The old one continued to give me issues, so instead of fighting it the new one is on the way. Things have been pretty crazy here 20 yr Wedding Anniversary, and my Oldest Sons birthday was today and everyday craziness as the holidays approach.. Full stack of Tech News as well.

Join me in a 10 day transformation following the Thanksgiving holiday. You will save $50.00 on your Total Transformation by using the promo code Podcast @ mypurium.com/podcast when you purchase your transformation kit.. Get healthy before the new year with me.

Become a GNC 1000 Insider Today!:

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Robot Underpants: 11.19.14 (177) “World of Wings”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, and “Starman” Michael Gaines bring you this week’s enthralling hot topics including: Bill Cosby-gate, Joe Dirt 2 News, Sprint’s For Life Deals, Vacation Boobs and more!

* Don Lemon Tells Alleged Victim to Bite Dick
* David Spade Mullet
* Sprint’s iPad for Life
* Temporary Breast Enlargement
* Barbie Sucks At Coding
*Langley’s Photo Rescue Squad Project Fundraiser

Tablet Stands Made from Decommissioned Railroad Steel

Rail Slice tablet stand and Rail artifact standGriffin Technology has teamed up with Rail Yard Studios to create some very unique tablet stands. These one-of-a-kind stands are made from decommissioned railroad steel. This could be the perfect gift for the train aficionado in your life.

Rail Yard Studios makes custom furniture from historic century-old railroad steel and hardwood timbers. Now, they are using their skill to turn railroad steel into stands for both mini and full sized tablets. The stands are fashioned from reclaimed rail stock that was installed on the original Louisville and Nashville Railroad between 1906 and 1908. Each stand can hold a tablet in both landscape and portrait orientation.

The Rail Slice Tablet Stand is made from a piece of decommissioned rail. It has a milled cavity that can accommodate a charging cable and allow the tablet’s speakers to project sound without obstruction. The Rail Artifact Stand is made from two antique railroad spikes with a tie plate that was used to hold the railroad together. Each style can be purchased for $129.99.

The forged steel may scratch the finishes of tablets, and the use of a case is recommended. To help with that, every Rail Yard Studios stand that is purchased from Griffin’s website will be accompanied with a complimentary Griffin tablet case of the buyer’s choice.

A Beautiful End To My Day

As I was going to bed last night, I checked my Moto X for one last time before heading upstairs. To my surprise, a small blue ballerina twirled across the icon dock at the bottom of the screen before rolling into a round blue ball in the corner. How could I resist? I tapped on the ball….

…and was gifted a love story brought to life through a beautiful line drawn animation called “Duet”. Delivered from Motorola’s pre-installed Spotlight app it’s the third one to be shown on the platform, using elements of augmented reality to enhance the story-telling. The short is only a few minutes long but the timing was perfect and brought the day to a peaceful and thoughtful end. Thank you.

Motorola Duet
Motorola Duet
Motorola Duet
Motorola Duet

GNC #994 Murphy’s Law

Well we blew up a computer on the last show, that’s how hot this show is… Besides me not knowing what day it is, this is as packed as a show as they come… I make up some time from when I was on travel.

Become a GNC 1000 Insider Today!:

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Support our Show Sponsor:
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$1.00 / mo WordPress Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: press4
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Swimbuds Sport Waterproof Headphone Review

swimbudsHere in Hawaii we are either at the beach or at a pool on a regular basis. My daughter is a lifeguard at a local city pool, and while she is not allowed to wear headphones / earbuds while on lifeguard duty  she does swim laps each day before / after work and loves to jam out at the same time.

Since our review last year of the Water Proof iPod Shuffle she has been using both the shuffle and underwater ear-buds from Underwater Audio. So when I tossed her the new Swimbuds Sport Waterproof Headphones from Underwater Audio she was eager to try them out..

Today was the day that I asked her for her impressions. First thing she did was started gushing about how awesome they where, and how her co-workers where amazed at the sound quality. They had already seen here previous pair and was amazed those continued to work after 7 months of abuse. During the two weeks she has had these she felt the sound quality and the seal was as good or better than the previous version.

She wanted me to emphasize that one of the things Underwater Audio did right on these was to include a huge selection of ear insert styles, everyone’s ears are a little different and she experimented till she found the best combination.

One added benefit was that she said wearing these underwater earbuds also kept the most of the water out of here ears. When she takes them off she does a fresh water rinse shakes them out and lets them air dry. Retail is @ $70.00 for folks that spend a lot of time in the water they are worth every penny and can be used of course on dry land as well.