iSwimband Returns to CES with Updated Product

iSwimband logoPool and water safety are serious concerns. iSwimband returned to CES in 2015 to talk about its updated product for swimmers. Imagine being able to receive an alert on your smartphone when a young child enters the water. Or imagine being able receive an alert when a more advanced swimmer has been underwater for too long.

Jamie spoke with Paul Newcomb for the second time in as many years about iSwimband. Paul talked about the updated iSwimband and how the band can be used in conjunction with a swimmer’s current set of goggles or swim cap. Paul also noted that iSwimband makes a customized set of goggles that easily allows for iSwimband integration, and that the company will soon be releasing a specialized swim cap that does the same.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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MakerBot Brings Robohand to CES

MakerBot logo

3-D printing has come a long way over the last year or so. But it’s still seen primarily as a curiosity by most people. Of course, those in the know have always realized 3-D printing’s true potential. And the great minds over at MakerBot had some fine examples of that potential at CES 2015.

Jamie caught up with Jen Howard, Director of Public Relations at MakerBot. Jen related the story of how two engineers on opposite ends of the planet worked together to fabricate a prosthetic “Robohand” for a man who had recently lost his hand in a work accident. Jen also showed off a 3-D printed skeleton that would go well in a classroom environment.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Luminette Provides Light Therapy for the Winter Blues at CES

Luminette logoDepression can be a real problem, especially during those long, sun-deprived winter months. There are plenty of treatments available to help those who are feeling blue during those dark days, and Luminette is the latest product to try and tackle the problem.

Jamie met with Eric Delloy, General Manger of Lucimed, the company behind Luminette. Eric demonstrated how this specialized set of glasses uses LED’s to provide light therapy to the user. Lucimed has found that regular use of the Luminette helped to regulate users’ melatonin and serotonin levels.

Luminette is currently available for sale in Europe and is expected to reach the U.S. market in September, with a retail price of $239.00.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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MonBaby is a Smart Baby Monitor at CES

monbaby logoBaby monitoring is a product category ready for some real disruption. For years, baby monitoring systems have pretty much only consisted of walkie-talkie style radio setups. MonBaby is a new product that brings baby monitoring into the 21st century.

Jamie visited with Arturas Vaitaitis, a MonBaby representative. Arturas explained that MonBaby is a button-style Bluetooth-enabled monitor that attaches to any part of a baby’s clothing. MonBaby then sends alerts to a parent’s smartphone. Alerts include things like baby movement, rollovers or lack of baby movement. MonBaby is expected to hit the market in mid-Fedbruary and is currently available for preorder on the MonBaby website for $169.00.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Keep Your Devices Charged and Ready with myCharge at CES

myCharge logoBattery-charging solutions were a busy vertical at CES 2015. One of the many companies hoping to solve the never-ending problem of discharged devices is myCharge. Jamie stopped by the myCharge booth to take a look at the myCharge Ultra Hub.

myCharge products come with integrated cables that can connect to either Micro USB or Lightning-powered devices. myCharge is itself a battery-pack style solution; load up the myCharge with a full battery and then take it with you to charge up your devices when you can’t gain access to standard power points.

Video hosted by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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Motorola Moto X (2014) Review

Motorola M LogoThe latest iteration of Motorola‘s Moto X has appeared on many end of year lists as the best of phone of 2014. Much as I dislike “best of” lists, I have to agree they’re probably right as the Moto X is an excellent phone. So much so, I’m tempted to simply say that the 2014 Moto X is “the 2013 Moto X – only better”. However, I guess I’d better be a little more rigorous. Let’s take a look.

Motorola Moto X 2014

I’ve spent a little around a month with the Moto X courtesy of Motorola and as an upgrade from my previous workhorse, the LG Nexus 4, it’s a significant jump which is emphasised by the coincidental arrival of Android 5. The Moto X arrived with KitKat out of the box, but upgraded to Lollipop within minutes.

Checking out the specs, it’s a 5.2″ 1920 x 1080 full HD AMOLED screen powered by a Qualcomm 2.5 MHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor supported by an Adreno 330 GPU. There’s 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of storage and a 2300 mAh battery keeps the Moto X going, with Motorola reckoning on around 24 hours use. It’s a GSM phone with 4G LTE on the 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20 bands. Dimensions are 72 x 141 x 9.9 mm (3.8 mm at the narrowest point) and weighs in at 144 g. Broadly, it’s faster, bigger and heavier than the previous generation.

Using Geekbench 3, the latest Moto X clocks in at 1001 single core and 2801 for multi-core with the previous generation Moto X scoring 666 / 1258. The bump in clock speed (1.75 to 2.5 GHz) and cores (2 to 4) are responsible for the big jump in multi-core performance.

Motorola Moto X PowerThe Moto X looks good, and this particular phone is nearly all black with the on/off and volume rocker in a dark grey metal. There are speaker highlights at the top and bottom of the phone too. Using MotoMaker there’s wide range of colour combinations for both the metal frame and the back of the phone, which also comes in a few different materials including leather. Nice.

Motorola Moto X BottomMoving round the phone, the right-hand side has the ribbed on/off button and similar volume rocker. There’s a micro-USB socket at the bottom and 3.5 mm audio jack at the top. I like the left-side clear so it’s easy to rest the phone on the edge and there’s no fiddling around for the volume controls. The back has the rear-facing camera with flash ring and there’s the signature dimple in the back which might have been a fingerprint scanner. Powering the phone up reveals two things….first the screen is even better than last time and second Motorola has still kept it near to stock Android. The full HD screen gives a high pixel density of 423 ppi and everything looks good. True to AMOLED displays, colours are strong and vibrant, though some people may find it oversaturated.

Returning to the user interface, anyone familiar with a Nexus device will be totally at home. It’s all fairly standard and what Motorola has done is to tweak some of the standard apps and include a few value-adding apps which you can use or not use, as you wish. They’re Moto X Motoall pretty good and several have been updated with new names and extra functionality. Both Help and Migrate are much as before and Connect now supports newer devices such as the Moto 360 smartwatch or Keylink tracker.

Moto has replaced the earlier Assist as a personal assistant-type app that sets up rules for when the phone needs to be quiet, based on driving, meetings or sleeping. The new version adds extra features to set up rules for reacting to motion, responding to voice and displaying notifications on the screen. Active Display is still cool – go up to the phone and notifications will fade into view. It’s one of the best Moto features by far. The new Moto X now has Attentive Display too which keeps the screen on when the owner is looking at the phone but turns it off to save power when the owner looks away. Neat.

Camera-wise, some other reviewers gripe that the 13 megapixel camera lets the phone down. I’m not so sure: while it’s not a necessarily a great camera, my photos seemed to me to be an improvement on those taken by the previous generation of smartphone camera. I was able to zoom in further without loss of detail and colour reproduction was good. Frankly, if you want great photos, use a DSLR.

To round off the review, here are a couple of family photos with the 2014 Moto X next to the original and a Nexus 4 snuck in the middle. The new one is bigger but it’s not crazy big like the Nexus 6 or the OnePlus One. I think it’s a good size.

 

Motorola Moto X and Nexus 4

Motorola Moto X and Nexus 4

Reiterating, the Moto X is an excellent phone which is competitively priced, starting at £419 here in the UK, though there are occasional offers that drop the price by good chunk. It feels great in the hand, has a lovely screen and sticks to stock Android while adding value through apps rather than eye candy. I’m seriously considering buying one for myself to replace the ageing Nexus 4, so consider that a recommendation.

Thanks again to Motorola for providing the Moto X for review.

Aleratec Hard Drive Duplicator at CES

Aleratec LogoLet’s been honest, it’s not often that the average geek needs to duplicate a single hard drive to five others in a range of physical sizes and capacities. But if you did need to do it, Aleratec have the machine for the job with the snappily named 1-to-5 HDD Copy Dock Advanced. Jamie and Todd find out what it offers from Perry Solomon, President and CEO of Aleratec.

The Aleratec 1-to-5 duplicates one SATA drive to five others, taking both spinning disks and SSDs while catering for both 3.5″ and 2.5″ form factors without any additional adaptors. In itself, that’s not particularly amazing as Aleratec do other units that will duplicate 24 HDDs at once, but this working prototype has a couple of features that set it apart. First, it has a secure erase function which will wipe disks to Dept. of Defense standards, but more impressively, the 1-to-5 has the capability to duplicate from a larger drive capacity to a smaller drive capacity. This situation often occurs when moving from an HDD to an SSD where the HDD has a volume capacity in a terabytes but the SSD has only gigabytes. Obviously the files on the source drive have to be pruned to fit the space on the receiving drive but it’s a great feature on a duplicator.

The price of the 1-to-5 HDD Copy Dock Advanced is $899 and will be available shortly.

Interview by Jamie Davies of Health Tech Weekly and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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IK Multimedia Announces iRig PowerBridge

Ik Multimedia iRig PowerBridgeIK Multimedia, a company that puts musicians first, has created the iRig PowerBridge. It is a new charging system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that allows for the continuous charge of the device while using iRig accessories. This allows mobile musicians to practice, perform, and record with their favorite 30-pin or Lightning compatible IK gear anywhere they want and for as long as they want.

The iRig PowerBridge is compatible with the iRig Mic HD, the iRig HD, iRig Keys, iRig PRO and iRig MIDI 2. The iRig PowerBridge combines a power supply and an ultra-low noise power conditioner that connects to a power outlet on one end and a Lightning or 30-pin iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch on the other.

Between both ends is a female Mini-DIN connector that can be used to connect any digital iRig accessory with a Mini-DIN or Micro-USB port. It is a streamlined setup that allows for continuous charging while also passing along audio and MIDI information between the iRig accessory and the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. An LED display provides at-a-glance visual feedback while charging.

The iRig PowerBridge comes in two versions. One is for Lightning and the other is for 30-pin. Both are available for preorder for $69.99 (excluding taxes). The iRig PowerBridge will ship Q1 in 2015 from music and electronics retailers worldwide and on the IK online store.

Peri Duo Speaker Case for iPhone

Peri Logo

When it comes to smartphones and tablets, there are few mobile devices that produce anything like a decent volume and as for stereo separation, forget it. Fortunately Peri can come to the aid of iPhone owners with the Peri Duo, a high-power wireless speaker and phone charger case. Todd and Jamie find out more from Cedric Sumimoto, co-founder of Peri.

The Peri Duo is a standalone wi-fi and bluetooth-enabled speaker and iPhone charger case all in one. As expected, music can be streamed via AirPlay but the iPhone doesn’t have to be in the case when playing the music, so the Duo speaker can be on the opposite side of the room while the iPhone is safely in a pocket. Even better, more than one Duo can be connected to a phone so one Duo can be assigned as the left speaker and one as the right. Alternatively, one phone can multicast to dozens of Peri Duos, which really gets the party going.

The battery is 2500 mAh which will fully recharge an iPhone once with a bit over, or else the Duo will play music for around 4 hours.

The Peri Duo will be available for the iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and iPod Touch. The MSRP will be $139 though it’s currently on pre-order at $99 via Indigogo. Deliveries are expected from April onwards.

Interview by Jamie Davies of Health Tech Weekly and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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GNC #1007 Comcast Ghost Writers

I am beyond blown away by the Comcast Ghost Writers scandal.. They are pretty bold and it is obvious a lot of politicians are bought and paid for by Comcast. I go off on the Ghost writing practice and a pile of other tech and science news.

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