iOttie Brings Inductive Smartphone Charger, Powerful Bike Light to CES



Most CES posts here at Geek News Central cover only one item. But when Todd stopped by the iOttie booth, he discovered two different items that were worth covering. Fortunately, Andrew from iOttie was there to give detailed information on both products.

First up is iOttie’s new iTap Wireless inductive smartphone charger. iTap Wireless needs no clunky adapters or loose wires. Simply place your phone onto the iTap’s surface, and the phone begins charging. iTap Wireless is designed to be used on a car’s dashboard, where its built-in dash cam can double as a handy safety accessory.

Next up is the Halo Charge bike light. Halo Charge is more than just a light that helps bicyclists navigate thru the darkness. It provides up to 1.5 hours of light on a single charge, uses a capacitive touch system to display the battery status, has a powerful 1100 lumens capable light, and a built-in dial that makes it easy to adjust the light’s brightness level.

Both products are expected to be available Q2 of 2017. Pricing information is not yet available.

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PureGear’s Steel 360 Tempered Glass is Protecting Smartphones at CES



PureGear logoEvery year, CES is jam packed with accessory products for smartphones. Locating a good one can be like finding a real diamond in the rough. But that’s exactly what Todd did when he met up with Arthur from PureGear. Arthur showed off PureGear’s latest development in smartphone protection, the Steel 360 Tempered Glass phone cover.

Here are some important features of the Steel 360 Tempered Glass product:

  • Made from high-quality Japanese glass
  • Glass has an armor-like surface layer
  • Smooth edge production process fortifies and protects glass, also ensures that the cover will fit perfectly onto the phone
  • Lifetime warranty on all glass covers breakage and scratching
  • Glass cover is rated at 98% scratch resistant

The PureGear Steel 360 Tempered Glass phone cover is currently available for iPhone 6, 6S, and 7, including Plus models, for $49.95. The cover will be released for other phone models soon.

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Shift from Qwertyfree Helps Visually Impaired at CES



For the visually impaired, typing on a smartphone or tablet keyboard can be tricky as the small keys can be hard to pick out. The team at Qwertyfree are developing a replacement keyboard with just five keys to help those with poor vision. Todd finds out more from Craig.

The idea behind the new keyboard is that in English eight letters are used over 60% of the time so why not focus on those and make those letters the easiest to use. Called Shift (as in shifting gears on a manual transmission), the app has a four areas; up, right, down, left, with a selection of letters in each – it’s a little like the directional pad on a remote. The user swipes once to get a primary letter and then swipes again to get a secondary one, with the keyboard reading out the selected letter. So just swipe left for E, or right for N.

The new Shift keyboard should be available by the end of the quarter, though it may be Android only. No news on price.

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

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Switchflip Switches Sockets at CES



You might think that a switch flip is a skateboard move but in this case Switchflip lets you control new power outlets from a wall switch with no extra wiring. Todd gets a demo from Ryan on maximising those hard-to-reach sockets.

Currently seeking funding via Indiegogo, the Switchflip works like this….let’s say you have a power socket that is controlled by a wall switch but you’d prefer that the wall switch worked with another socket (or sockets) on the other side of the room. So you plug the Switchflip transmitter into the original switched socket and a Switchflip receiver into the socket(s) further away. Now when you switch the wall switch all sockets come on (or go off).

The Switchflip uses its own wireless connection so there’s no Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity to mess around with. It’s plug’n’play, or as Switchflip says, “Simple is smart”. Range is up to 100ft, depending construction.

The crowdfunding is going well, with the Switchflip currently over 200% funded with a month to go. There are still a few Early Bird Specials to available, and US$35 will get a transmitter and a receiver. Delivery is expected in October 2017.

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

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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.