GNC #1162 Robot Invasion



Glad to be back in the saddle and I get you caught up on what is happening here and in the tech space. I also do a deep dive on the what happens when Robots Invade and the impact that is going to have on service jobs. Plus regular industry.. Can you be outsourced by a Robot? Many already have been are you next?

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Devolo dLAN 550+ WiFi Mini Review



Devolo LogoBack in June I reviewed the Devolo dLAN 550 WiFi Starter Kit and this time round, I’m looking at the “plus” version of the same kit. What makes it a 550+? Simply that the WiFi adaptor is now bigger and has a power socket pass thru. Let’s take a mini look…

Devolo dLAN 550+ WiFi Starter Kit

As the Starter Kit is broadly the same as last time out, I’m not going to be doing a full review. If you want to see screenshots of the setup procedure, Devolo’s handy desktop software or smartphone app, I suggest you take a look at my original write-up. All I’ll say in this review is that the 550+ WiFi works just as well in terms of setup. The adaptors are paired out of the box so getting started is simply a case of plugging them into power sockets and then connecting a network cable from a neighbouring router or switch. The wireless access point can be then be configured remotely. It’s easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!

Devolo dLAN 550+ WiFi Starter Kit

There’s no real technical change between the 550 and and 550+ WiFi units. Both provide 11n WiFi at 300 Mb/s, whereas the previous generation 500 only transmitted at 150 Mb/s; the upgrade comes from 2×2 antennas which boosts both the rate and Devolo 550 WiFithe range with the 550s. Additionally, the transmission range across the electrical wiring is increased to 400m through the use of all three conductors (live, neutral and earth).

The main change is that the new 550+ WiFi is a bigger adaptor with the same rectangular form factor as the non-WiFi units, including a pass-thru. The picture on the left shows the old adaptor, which was smaller and squarer. My only gripe with Devolo is that the newer adaptors have the network cable coming out the top, rather than below.

Looking at the prices, the RRP of the 550+ WiFi Starter Kit is GB£109.99 whereas the 550 WiFi Starter Kit is ten pounds less at GB£99.99. Both kits do the same job, so if there’s no need for a pass-thru or a smaller unit is preferred, go for the cheaper one. If a pass thru is needed, take the 550+. As an aside, if speed or 11ac is needed, check out the 1200+ WiFi Starter Kit at GB£159.99.

For more detail there’s an unboxing of the Devolo dLAN 550+ WiFi Starter Kit below.

Thanks to Devolo for providing the dLAN 550+ WiFi Starter Kit for review.


GNC #1161 Giving Thanks



I take a little time tonight to talk to the Ohana to express my thanks and reflect on the show.. Be careful on your trips to family and have a great Thanksgiving. I will be back with you next Monday with the next show. Tonight’s show is packed with tech news and information.

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Apple: The Thrill Is Gone



Apple LogoBack around 2006 when Apple switched the Mac to Intel processors, Apple started to gain my attention, and several thousands of my dollars.

The Mac was not only a more secure computing alternative, but it also offered fun. Apple computers of about 2006 to 2011 were just plain fun devices.

Sure, Macs were always more expensive than their PC counterparts, but it was arguably a better platform, offering genuine value with those higher prices.

In one of the Steve Jobs biographies, it was said that after he knew he was dying, Jobs worked to leave Apple with about 5 years’ worth of guidance.

Unfortunately, the 5 years is expired. And it is showing. A few years ago I published an article here predicting that Apple would morph into a caricature of Jobs’ worst traits – knowing what the customer “needed” more than the customer, cutting useful features and calling it innovation, etc. Sadly, my prediction has come true. Steve Jobs was brilliant in being able to predict and surf the waves of the parts of the ever-changing consumer electronics market that he chose to compete in. Steve Jobs was successful despite his worst character flaws.

The Apple of 2016 is no longer fun. Something has gone missing. If Apple were your surgeon, you would likely start missing fingers and limbs.

The Apple of 2016 is obsessed with cutting useful features and then making the excuse that they are doing it because they have “courage.”

Up until about 5 years ago you could plunk your pile of money down on a high-end Mac without knowing a thing about it, and rest assured you were getting all the latest and greatest hardware. In 2016 that is no longer true.

The Apple of 2016 is no longer fun.


iClever Wireless Speaker Review



iClever LogoDesigning out the headphone jack on the iPhone was a brave move by Apple but the price of both Bluetooth headphones and speakers have fallen to the level of an impulse buy. Consequently the change isn’t quite as costly as it would have been a few years ago. Naturally audiophiles may disagree on audio quality grounds. Still, anyone with a Bluetooth equipped smartphone might be interested in this compact portable speaker for music on the go.

On review here is the iClever Wireless Speaker (IC-BTS04). It’s shaped like a small brick measuring 16.2 cm by 6.2 cm by 2.8 cm and weighs a little over 250g. Consequently, the BTS04 can be conveniently slipped into a cargo pocket or a backpack for travel. Unlike some of the more brightly coloured competitors, this speaker goes for understated black plastic and dark grey metal. It certainly doesn’t shout “look at me!”

iClever Wireless Speaker

Along the top there are five buttons for controlling music and managing calls. Round the side is the microUSB charging port and audio input socket, both covered by a rubber flap. There’s some nice details to the speaker, with small hex screws on the metal grilles.

In the box there’s the speaker itself, a carry strap, a 3.5 mm audio cable, USB charging cable and the usual assortment of instructions, guarantees and happy sheets.

iClever Wireless Speaker

Getting started is easy once you figure out which is the power button. Oddly it’s marked with a “minus” sign rather than the usual circle and bar but once that’s pressed for a few seconds, the BTS04 powers up and the LED on the middle multifunction button starts flashing for pairing mode. After that it’s the normal process which ends with a voice announcing “Connected” and the blue LED on the button going solid.

With music playing, the buttons work as expected. Play / pause, next track, previous track. For volume control, the two track buttons are used with long presses: to start with I found this a little fiddly and jumped tracks instead of adjusting the volume but I got the hang of it. In terms of loudness, it’s surprisingly loud for a pair of 5W speakers. It has little sticky feet on the bottom which keep it still on smooth surfaces, otherwise it would vibrate its way across the table at full volume. While the sound quality isn’t going worry Sonos or Bose, it’s fine for a some casual listening in the office.

The BTS04 works as a speakerphone too. When a call comes into the smartphone, pressing the middle multifunction button pauses the music and connects the caller. Pressing the button again drops the call. Don’t want to take the call at all? Long press the multifunction button.

iClever Wireless Speaker

Battery life is rated at 10 hours which sounds about right as I got more than a working day of tunes. The multifunction button glows red during charging or if the battery power gets low.

If I’m being honest, the iClever speaker doesn’t have a single standout feature, but it is a neat assembly of features that won’t disappoint – solidly made, reasonably loud, decent sound, blends in, doubles as speakerphone. Priced at US$27.99 or GB£24.99, it’s a perfect Christmas present for someone who prefers something discrete. I suspect teens and tweens would want something more colourful.

Thanks to iClever for providing the IC-BTS04 for review.


Belkin Named as CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree



Belkin - LogoBelkin, market leader in mobile accessories, announced that it has been named a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree in two categories: Portable Media Players & Accessories and Portable Power. The two products are Belkin’s Powerhouse Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone and Belkin’s Valet Charger Power Pack.

Belkin’s Powerhouse Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone offers consumers an easy 2-in-1 solution for turn-key charging. It has the following consumer benefits:

  • Built-in Apple Watch magnetic charging module with integrated lighting connector for the iPhone
  • Integrated 2-in-1 charging solution optimally charges the Apple Watch and iPhone simultaneously
  • Elevated design keeps the Apple Watch and iPhone protected and easier to see while charging
  • MFi certification ensures that this product passed rigorous mechanical, stress, and electrical tests per Apple standards

Belkin’s Valet Charger Power Pack offers consumers on the go a way to charge Apple Watch and iPhone simultaneously. The Valet Charger is more than just a powerful 6700mAh portable battery. A built-in Magnetic Charging Module offers a battery boost for the Apple Watch, while a USB port connects via Lightning cable to simultaneously charge your iPhone. With 2Amp power, this 2-in-1 portable battery delivers 1 Amp to optimally charge the Apple Watch and 1 Amp to charge your iPhone. The Valet Charger is the perfect partner to keep your devices charged, anywhere.

Belkin’s Powerhouse Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone and the Valet Charger Power Pack will be displayed at CES 2017, which runs January 5-8, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Targus Mobile ViP Backpack Named CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree



targus-mobile-vip-backpackTargus, a leader in the mobile computing accessories category, announced that its Mobile ViP Backpack was named a CES 2017 Innovation Award Nominee in the Computer Accessories category. The award-winning backpack will be displayed at the CES Innovation Awards Showcase.

The Mobile ViP features Targus’ innovative SafePort Sling protection system, its patented checkpoint-friendly design that helps users zoom through TSA airport screenings with the laptop safely inside, and a convertible floor that accommodates larger supplies, if necessary. Plus, the pack doesn’t slouch thanks to its structured and tailored design.

The CES 2017 Innovation Award helps reaffirm that the Mobile ViP Backpack is a valuable product in the market – with quality engineering, design, and aesthetics – which aligns with Targus’ mission to create cutting-edge, quality-made products to carry, protect, and connect mobile devices so that professionals can perform at their best everywhere they work.

The award winning Mobile ViP Backpack will be displayed at the CES Innovation Awards Showcase, which runs January 5 to 8 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


MSI’s VR One and Stealth Pro Recognized as CES 2017 Innovation Honorees



msis-vr-oneMSI, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, received the distinction of International CES 2017 Innovation Honoree for its ultra-powerful and mobile VR-ready GS63VR Stealth Pro gaming laptop; and the world’s thinnest and lightest VR backpack PC, the VR One.

Recognized under “Tech For a Better World”, and “Gaming” categories, MSI’s VR One backpack PC is the world’s thinnest and lightest virtual reality backpack PC weighing less than 8 lbs. Powered by the latest in gaming technology and a unique cooling system to prolong gaming sessions, the VR One comes with swappable batteries, eliminate cables and cords, and is now available to deliver a truly wireless VR experience.

Honored under the “Virtual Reality” category, MSI’s GS63VR Stealth Pro is a mobile 17-inch gaming laptop with the power of full sized desktops. Armed with Intel’s 6th generation processor and NVIDIA’s VR-ready GeForce GTX 10-Series GPUs, the GS63VR Stealth Pro weighs only 5.35 lbs., measures less than 0.7-inches thick, and designed for mobile gamers who seek the best performance without sacrificing mobility.

MSI’s VR One and GS63VR Stealth Pro will be showcased during CES Unveiled New York on November 10th at the Metropolitan Pavilion. MSI’s entire lineup of gaming products will be in exhibition during CES 2017 at the Venetian Las Vegas Level 3, San Polo Hall – Room 3505 from January 5th to 8th


Blink Wins Second Consecutive CES Innovation Awards Honoree Recognition



blink-logoBlink, the ultra-affordable, truly wire-free and battery-powered home security and HD video monitoring system, announced that it has been named as a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree. The brand won recognition for its Blink 2.0 system, marking the second consecutive CES Innovation Award victory for the brand within the Smart Home category.

Unveiled earlier this fall, Blink 2.0 takes the brand’s signature features – unmatched battery life and ease of use – to the next level. In an effort to further solidify Blink’s competitive advantage, the company’s world-class engineering team did not simply increase battery life, they doubled it. Blink’s revolutionary cameras now run for an industry-leading two years on just two AA lithium batteries, with the ability to record up to 60 second and auto-stop recording when motion is no longer detected.

Blink upended the smart home security industry last year, taking CES and the consumer tech market by storm with an unbeatable price point ($99), unprecedented battery life, and unmatched ease of installation and use. Blink has continued this momentum as demonstrated by its announcement of two-year battery life and the title of CES Innovation Award Honoree for the second year in a row.

Blink will be at CES Unveiled on January 3 and CES 2017 from January 5-8 at Booth #40136 in the Smart Home section of the Sands, Hall A-D.


Beyond Tablet Honored with CES 2017 Innovation Award



beyond-screen-tabletBeyond Screen Limited announced that is has been named a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree for its Beyond Tablet product. It is the world’s first smart tablet without a display screen. Beyond Tablet encourages families to have fun together, instead of everyone staring at a screen.

Beyond Tablet is a tangible game and education platform for children and families. Beyond tablet is a large smart tablet without a display screen, and offers a tangible interactive experience with cards, blocks, and figurines.

It is an electronic board for family games, a smart digital musical instrument, and an interactive surface for children to play games designed to enhance their working memory, cognitive flexibility, and mental discipline to remain organized and focused.

The Beyond Tablet product from Beyond Screen Limited will be displayed at CES 2017 which runs January 5-8, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the Innovation Awards Showcase. The Beyond Tablet will also be displayed at the company’s own booth located in the Kids & Technology section.