GNC #1027 Apple has Stacks of Cash

Apple continue to roll in piles of cash. With a 40% profit margin, their is nothing else like it in business today. I also talk about an initiative that I think as a Ohana we will have a lot of fun with so be sure to listen in. Tesla’s big battery announcement is this Thursday so we will have a lot to talk about on the next show.

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WatchStand Charges and Displays Apple Watch

Griffin WatchStandGriffin Technology has created WatchStand. It is a new charging dock for Apple Watch that offers an elegant solution for displaying the Apple Watch. WatchStand is available now for $29.99.

WatchStand houses the Apple-provided magnetic charging cable in an angled cradle that keeps it ready to charge at all times. Feed the magnetic charging cable through the center of the post.

After that, you can charge your Apple Watch each day by laying it against the cradle. The magnetic connector gently snaps itself onto the back of the Apple Watch and begins charging.

WatchStand can accommodate both semi-flexible and fully flexible bands. It displays the Apple Watch vertically or horizontally for the perfect view. The weighted base of WatchStand has a home for a phone as well. The raised lip on the front of the dock holds the phone at an angle that makes it easy to view.

WatchStand weighs 18 ounces and is 7.87” x 5.5” x 3.15” in size. It has a non-slip base and no-scratch padding that holds WatchStand in place on a desk or tabletop. Excess cable length can be stored away inside WatchStand’s post.

The video below gives you a good look at the elegant WatchStand. The video says “coming soon” because it was produced before WatchStand became available. WatchStand is available now for $29.99.

Philips Hue at Gadget Show Live

Hue Personal Wireless LightingWe’ve always been fans of the Philips Hue here at GNC and looking back I reviewed Hue back in December 2013. At that time, Hue was only a small range of connected light bulbs. Today Hue has a much wider range of bulbs and integrates with other elements of the connected home such as Nest, while Hue Tap brings practicality, turning on lights with a physical switch.

The latest addition to the family is Hue Go, a portable light with a built-in rechargeable battery giving three hours of light. Bowl-shaped and 12 cm across, the Go can be controlled as any Hue light via the app. Off-net when there’s no smartphone handy, the Go’s on lamp controls can switch through seven presets, making the Go great outside even when there’s no wi-fi.

Hue Go

For more on the latest developments in Hue’s world listen to my interview with Chris from Philips at Gadget Show Live.

Would You buy a 12 Inch “iPad Pro?”

apple logoCoverage of tech industry rumors has really turned into a cottage industry in recent years. Nothing fuels the rumor mill more than anticipated new products or product updates from Apple. It seems like every time a tech blog gets the tiniest shred of information about a potential new iThing, dozens of websites then kick into overdrive with endless reaction and speculation pieces.

I tend to ignore most of this cruft but one rumored item that’s being tossed around by tech pundits has me somewhat intrigued. That item is the so-called “iPad Pro” (also referred to sometimes as the “iPad Plus”). The iPad Pro is believed to be a 12 or 13-inch iPad. This would be the largest modern iDevice Apple has ever made, eclipsing the size of the iPad Air 2 by about three inches. It’s even been suggested that the iPad Pro will come with a built-in USB port, a first for Apple touchscreen devices.

2015 does seem like the year for the iPad to go Pro. Traditionally, Apple has rolled out new additions to its existing product lines slowly. And while the original iPad has seen a number of upgrades over the years, its overall form factor hasn’t really changed. iPad Mini, the successor to the original iPad has gone thru some iterations of its own, but like the original iPad, its overall size hasn’t changed much since the premier edition. And while the first iPad pretty much ushered in the era of modern tablet computing, competitors have been quick on Apple’s heels to design comparable devices. Walk into any retail store that carries electronics and you’ll see larger-sized tablets running the Android and Windows Mobile operating systems. But nothing from Apple.

I’ll admit, I’m usually a sucker for new Apple things. I’ve owned a total of four iPhones over the years, one iPad 2 and one iPad Mini. After a year of living without a cell phone, relying only on my iPad Mini for mobile computing/communication needs, I recently got back into the iPhone game, and its caused me to do some reconsideration on the role of mobile devices in my life. Overall, I find I’m using the Mini less and I’m leaving it at home more often. I’m still using the Mini as part of my audio production toolkit, and it’s nice to have around the house for things like looking up recipes or the occasional game of Flight Control. But for things like e-mail or listening to podcasts, I find I’m using the iPhone more. Given that the Mini is becoming more of a “stay-at-home” device, I don’t really need the smaller form factor, which is incredibly convenient when traveling. That led me to consider swapping the Mini for an iPad Air 2. That’s when I started seeing the iPad Pro speculation.

I’m legally blind, so I tend to prefer larger screens anytime I can get them. In a lot of ways, the iPhone Six Plus is really the first smartphone I’ve had that I can truly use. And while the Six Plus display is unquestionably big at 5.5 inches, the Mini’s display is still bigger, coming in at nearly eight inches. But even with that extra real estate, the Mini is still light and relatively easy to hold in one hand. This is important for me as I have to hold the device relatively close to my face in order to really see what’s on the display. This was really difficult to do with the iPad Air 2, not only because the device was too big to hold in one hand but also because it was kinda heavy. This gives me some pause in ditching the Mini for a larger iPad, as I don’t want to wind up with a device that’s awkward or difficult to use at times when I might need to hold the device in order to see it properly.

Which brings me to the iPad Pro. Apple has made great strides over the years in making its devices thinner and lighter. So while the Pro would still be the largest iPad ever, it may actually weigh less than the iPad 2 I used to have, thus making it a bit more manageable as a handheld device. There’s also an ever-expanding market of third-party stands, mounts and cases that allow mobile devices to be used in different environments while freeing users’ hands from having to hold those devices. If the iPad Pro turns out to be real, a plethora of these accessories will surely flood the market. And it almost goes without saying that a larger-screen iPad would be great for someone like me. I often have to rely on the zoom function built into iOS to see things on my iPad Mini’s screen. A larger screen could make that unnecessary. At the very least, I might not have to zoom in as much to properly see what’s on the display.

And really, display size is just the tip of the iceberg as to how an iPad Pro could be useful to me. All of the current prognostication is placing the potential release of the new device to happen during the fourth quarter of this year. There’s still a lot of time for this particular rumor to turn into digital vapor. For now, I may go out and take a look at some of those other 12-inch tablets on the market, just to get an idea of what the form factor is like. Of course, none of those devices will truly replicate what an iPad Pro will be like, but it’s a start.

iStick Flash Drive at Gadget Show Live

MyiStickFlash drives and smartphones have never really gone well together for the simple reason that full-size USB is only present on desktops and laptops, making it tricky transferring files from PC to phone. Android has a love-hate relationship with SD cards and micro USB OTG is only present on a handful of devices. As for Apple, one of their camera kits is needed to view external USB storage but only handles photos and movies. Whether original Apple connector or newer Lightning, there’s no easy solution.

Fortunately, salvation is at hand for Apple owners with iPhones and iPads equipped with Lightning connectors. The iStick is a flash drive that has both a USB and a Lighting connector with a clever sliding mechanism that pushes out one or other of the connectors. Movies, music and documents can be accessed directly from the iStick without copying the files to the iPhone.

MyiStick Range

Available in a range of capacities from 8 GB (£49) to 128 GB (£199), the iStick colour denotes the capacity and the aluminium body compliments the Apple range. Check out the interview to learn more about the iStick.

Sennheiser Headphones at Gadget Show Live

Sennheiser_aiAt Gadget Show Live, I had the chance to chat with Michael from Sennheiser about their current headphone range including the Urbanites and the latest iteration in their classic Momentum series. The second generation Momentum M2 maintains the original’s high fidelity while improving the headphones’ comfort. The Momentum Wireless is ideal for the traveller with Sennheiser’s active noise-cancellation technology, NoiseGard, and the AptX codec for high definition wireless transmission.

Having previously reviewed the Momentum On-Ears and being extremely impressed with the audio, I imagine the over-ear version is even better.

Momentum M2

 

 

Steam Workshop Launches Paid Mods in Skyrim

Steam Workshop logoThe Steam Workshop has a new, streamlined, process that will enable mod creators to list and sell their creations. Players can now buy mods directly from the Workshop and have it immediately be usable in game.

Steam is starting with mods that connect to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (which is made by Bethesda Game Studios). They have a history of providing strong support for modifications in their games. Steam says there are now over 24,000 free mods available for Skyrim through the Steam Workshop.

The main idea here seems to be that players can now support the mod authors whose work they are using and enjoy. Those that create mods, and get paid for doing so, might decide to create new, higher quality, items and experiences that can be added to Skyrim.

Creators who want to make paid mods for Skyrim can make new cosmetic items, sound packs, custom skins, fancy houses, epic quests, or entire new cities. They can then set a price and earn a portion of each sale through the Steam Workshop. BBC reports that if a mod is sold, creators will receive 25% of the payment. The rest of the money is split between Valve and the studio or developer who originally made the game.

The implication seems to be that the ability to get paid by selling a mod for a game could, in the future, open up to games other than Skyrim. The information at Steam says “many more of your favorite Workshop games will support paid content in the coming weeks”.

GNC #1026 Comcast Throws in the Towel

Comcast has thrown in the towel. Now the fallout of that decision will materialize. I share with you some upcoming changes to the show in May which really isn’t much of a change at all but a new way of doing business. I hope you enjoy the show today as their are some great topics in the stack.

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Robot Underpants: 04.23.15 (199) “The Original Soundtrack”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek,  “Starman” Michael Gaines, and “Karaoke” Bob bring us this week in trailers! Plus more, like: Robert Downey Jr news, Star Wars recap, Daredevil news, and all sorts of trailer news!

* Robert Downey Jr Walks Out
* Star Wars Celebration Recap
* Daredevil 2
* Steven Seagal Envoy to Russia
* Fantastic Four Trailer
* Batman vs Superman Trailer
* Jurassic Park Trailer
* Star Trek 3

Google Launches Mobile Carrier Project Fi for Nexus 6

Google has joined the ranks of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile with their new mobile carrier service, Project Fi. Project Fi, which is exclusive to owners of Google’s Nexus 6 smartphone, offers a completely new take on wireless plans.

project fiMost carriers charge a flat rate for a specific amount of data, even when you don’t use it all, but Project Fi only charges you for the data you actually use and reimburses you for what you don’t. For example, if you spend $20 on a 2GB monthly plan but only use 1GB, Google will refund you $10. If you only use 0.5GB, you’ll get $15 and so on.

Project Fi is available in over 120 countries (with no roaming charges– yay!) and offers unlimited talk and text, personal hotspot usage, Google Voice integration, and unlimited international texting for a flat rate of $20 per month; you can add a data plan for $10/GB per month as well.

In addition, Project Fi lets you connect to both Sprint and T-Mobile’s 3G and 4G LTE networks, so if your T-Mobile signal starts to lag and Sprint has a faster signal available, Project Fi will automatically switch over to Sprint so you’ll always have the fastest possible connection. And if no cell networks are available, Project Fi lets you connect to more than 1 million free open-access WiFi hotspots, automatically encrypting your data so you can have fast, secure online access wherever you are.

Project Fi is currently in its early-access stage and only available for the Nexus 6, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see support for other smartphones coming soon, and perhaps a partnership with AT&T or Verizon, too.

Until then, you can get all the details and request an invitation here.