Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Duracell Powermat Charger and Backup Battery

Posted by Alan at 11:04 AM on February 19, 2012

The Duracell Powermat has been around for a little while, but this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas they revealed their latest innovations to the product.  The Powermat, combined with a special case for your smartphone makes for very easy charging – simply lay your handset down on the mat and walk away.

They also showed off a backup battery which also charges on the Powermat and then can be carried with you so that you always have a source for emergency charging.  The new backup battery not only charges on the mat, but can also be charged via USB so you can use a variety of chargers, from computer to wall wart to a car charger.  You can check all of it out in the video below and also visit them on the web.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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iPowerUp Charging Cases and Pico Projector

Posted by Andrew at 8:40 AM on February 16, 2012

iPower Pro Pico ProjectorToday’s power-hungry smartphones need recharged on a regular basis – you’d be lucky to get two days work out of one. iPowerUp have products to alleviate this problem: Andy and Courtney chat to Jerry Bessa, CEO.

iPowerUp offers a range of charging cases for iPhone that provide physical protection combined with a lithium-polymer battery to double the usage time. Both the phone and the battery can be charged through micro-USB port without removing the iPhone. Price is $60. Further variants have a built-in FM transmitter to play music through car radios and another has a solar cell on the back.

Amazingly, iPowerUp has managed to cram a mini DLP projector into a charging case that’s only a little bit bigger than an iPhone. The iPower Pro will display at 640×360 resolution but can create a projection up to 60″ from 9’6″ away. Of course it will need to be in a darkened room to achieve this full size and a smaller projection will be far more watchable. Priced at $229, it’s on sale now.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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SiriusXM Lynx Satellite and Internet Radio Receiver

Posted by Andrew at 8:40 AM on February 14, 2012

SiriusXM Lynx Satellite RadioSiriusXM is best know for their in-car satellite receiver head units but the latest Lynx unit combines satellite with Internet radio and an mp3 player. John finds out more with Sirius sales manager, Paul Truman.

The Lynx SiriusXM receiver combines the traditional head unit with features more usually found on a personal media player. Large touchscreen – check, mp3 playback – check, Internet radio – check, wifi and Bluetooth – check, rechargeable battery – check.

But one really clever feature most media players don’t have is the ability to go back in time. Not literally, but your favourite stations are constantly being recorded so that if you tune in and discover you missed the start of the programme, you can simply rewind the stream to the start of the show.

To cap it off, the unit is about the size of a paperback. Sweet.

Interview by John of F5 Live.

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SolarKindle Lighted Kindle Cover

Posted by Andrew at 8:31 AM on February 3, 2012

SolarKindle Lighted Kindle CoverThe E Ink screens of e-book readers are much easier on the eyes than traditional LCD ones but as they’re not backlit, reading in low light or the dark is a little tricky. SolarFocus‘s lighted Kindle cover solves this problem and more. Andy takes a look.

The SolarKindle lighted Kindle cover is a combination of a hard case, LED light, battery and photovoltaic charger. The Kindle clips into the back of the case which has a white LED reading light at the top. The solar cell is on the front cover, letting the SolarKindle charge the battery when the cover is closed. The clever part is that the 1500 mAh battery not only powers the reading light but also the Kindle itself, giving several days of extra reading from a fully charged battery.

SolarFocus won a CES Innovation Honoree Award for the SolarKindle – congrats. Available now for $79.99.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Built To Tylt Designs for Smartphones

Posted by Andrew at 9:07 AM on February 1, 2012

Built to Tylt logoAt CES‘s Digital Experience, Andy talks with Built To Tylt about their funky designs for smartphones and other portable gadgets. Check their website as these guys have got some great stuff.

The Tylt Band is a smartphone car charger made of a colourful flat silicon rubber cable that is nearly impossible tangle. Micro-USB and Apple connectors are available there’s an extra standard USB socket near the base of the cable for plugging in another device.

Tylt also have two portable battery packs, the Zumo and the PowerPlant, with 1500 mAh and 5,200 mAh batteries respectively. The Zumo is intended for the emergency smartphone charging, whereas the larger PowerPlant can part charge a tablet or recharge a smartphone several times.

Finally, if you are an iPhone owner, you might be interested in Tylt’s new iPhone cases, one of which comes with a lens cover to protect the camera and another that has a built-in kickstand (kickband?) to angle the iPhone for movie watching.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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PowerSkin Charges Smartphones and Portable Gamers

Posted by Andrew at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2012

At CES International 2012, PowerSkin has announced new portable power solutions for smartphones and other rechargeable devices. SolarCharge, Key Charge and Gaming Skins are all designed to keep the mobile user going for longer.

PowerSkins SolarChargeThe SolarCharge is a universal charger for all types of smartphone including iPhone, Android and Blackberry, and it comprises a 1000 mAh battery paired with a solar panel in a one-piece housing. The SolarCharge recharges smartphones (and other devices) via a supplied micro-USB connector and other connectors are available for non-standard devices. The battery in the SolarCharge itself is recharged via USB from a PC, via a micro-USB mains charger or from the sun through the solar panel, so there are plenty of options for the mobile user. The blue rubberised skin has embedded LEDs to show the battery’s charge level.

PowerSkins KeyChargeThe KeyCharge has a smaller capacity at 750 mAh and is intended for a quick boost rather than a full recharge. Small enough to fit on a keychain, the KeyCharge only comes with a micro-USB connector and consequently is not suitable for use with iPhones or iPods. Two variants are available to cater for the different positions of the micro-USB connector on smartphones, i.e. side or bottom. As with the SolarCharge, the KeyCharge is recharged via a micro-USB connector, either from a PC or from a mains adaptor.

Also on display at CES will be PowerSkin’s Gaming Skins for iOS and Nintendo 3DS, which were announced in December 2011, along with an array of battery-boosting smartphone skins for all the popular makes.

PowerSkins

PowerSkin’s SolarCharge, $69.99, and KeyCharge, $24.99, will both be available beginning February on www.Power-Skin.com. Visit PowerSkin’s booth at the Hilton Suites, Booth # 28-128.

Boost Smartphone Battery Life

Posted by Andrew at 5:33 AM on December 22, 2011

Mugen Power Batteries LogoToday’s smartphones are energy-sucking devices that can rarely go for a day or two without charging. I fondly remember my Nokia 6210 that could go a business week without needing a charge, but enough of the reminiscing.

If you do have a thirsty smartphone (or you get one for Christmas) and you find that the battery lets you down, you might be interested in Mugen Power Batteries, suppliers of replacement batteries for smartphones and other devices. Typically, a Mugen battery will offer an extra 10%-25% over the OEM battery of the same size. Take the battery for the HTC Wildfire S - the OEM is 1250 mAh but the Mugen version is 1500 mAh, giving an extra 22% more juice.

If you really need much more power, Mugen also sells batteries so big that you need a new back cover to fit it in. For the Samsung Galaxy S II, Mugen offers a 3200 mAh battery which nearly doubles the energy of the stock battery (1650 mAh), but the battery size increases too and a new back cover is needed. If you value talk time over aesthetics, it’s the only way to go.

Even Apple products are catered for, though as the iPhones et al don’t have user-replaceable batteries, the additional power has to come from an external unit.

Mugen are fairly well-known if you follow any of the main smartphone forums, and there are other vendors out there, but they seem to have the widest range with a good reputation, so if you need more power for your smartphone, check them out.

Laza HTC Evo 4G Extended Alternative Battery

Posted by tomwiles at 8:31 AM on September 8, 2011

Phones come and phones go. Our expectations change. Technology marches forward – well most of the time, except when it comes to the bane of wireless pocket tech – battery life.

I’ve had my Sprint HTC Evo 4G phone for more than a year at this point and I’m still very satisfied with its overall feature set as well as it’s performance. The big ongoing problem has been battery life. With the stock battery that came with the phone I have been lucky to get 5 hours out of it just on standby, perhaps extending that a bit by turning off automatic data synching. The original Evo 4G eats battery power like crazy. I knew this would be an issue going in, but unlike a lot of people I can keep my phone plugged into external power most of the time I’m in my truck, so the power devour issue mostly doesn’t cause me too much trouble. In all fairness, turning off data completely in the settings would vastly extend the Evo’s standby time, but this defeats the purpose of having a super smartphone.

There are times when the phone has to be running on it’s internal battery, and I need extra battery life. I got to searching for alternative Evo batteries on Amazon.Com, and I ended up purchasing this Laza HTC Evo 4G 3500mAh Extended Battery + Cover for along with Laza Sprint HTC Evo 4G Extended Battery Silicone Case Black. I was able to get both of these items along with three extra screen covers for $22.54 from Amazon, a real bargain compared to pricey alternative, less-capable batteries sold by Best Buy or Sprint.

The replacement battery is thicker, and therefore the new back is needed to accommodate the extra battery thickness. It makes the phone thicker, hence the need for the alternative extended battery silicone case.

As previously stated, it does make the Evo 4G thicker than before, but even with the extra girth it still easily fits into my pants pocket.

The new battery does vastly increase the phone’s standby time. In normal use it would probably last me all day. Of course, I’m not a normal user – most of the time the Sprint WiFi Hotspot feature is turned on and the phone is paired with my iPod and frequently with my Macbook Pro. Using the phone as a WiFi hotspot I can probably get about 5 to 6 hours of heavy data usage before pushing Android into automatic shutdown. Overall, I love my Evo 4G and would still buy one today were I in need of a new phone.

Laza also sells a variety of extended batteries, backs and accommodating cases in a variety of colors for other Android phone models – simply search Amazon for “Laza.”

If you want extra battery life from your Evo 4G, I recommend checking out Laza.

Severe Weather Tip – Switch Android Settings to Save Battery

Posted by Alan at 8:29 AM on August 27, 2011

With Hurricane Irene now making it’s way up the east coast of the US, it’s a good time to review what you can do to conserve your phone’s battery during power outages.  It’s also handy for travel, or anytime you won’t be able to recharge for an extended period.  Fortunately, Android makes it very simple to manage battery life – at least to a degree.  After all, this mobile OS isn’t known for it’s great power management.

To get started, turn on your device, go into All Apps and select Settings.  Now select Battery & data manager.

Select Battery mode.  By default, Android is set on Nighttime saver.  This is to allow “Normal operation during the day. Battery saving at night.”  However, you can switch it to Maximum battery saver, which offers “Best battery saving.  Least automatic data updates.”

Of course, you can switch these settings whenever you want.  For the most part the default “Nighttime saver” is best, but it is handy to be able to conserve your phone’s life when necessary.

Energizer Winner of the CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:45 PM on January 5, 2011

Inductive Chargers have been around for awhile the problem has been that different chargers work with different devices. The Wireless Power Consortium is trying to create a universal standard for wireless charging called Qi. One of the first companies to embrace this standard is Energizer who is a winner of the CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honorees in the Portable Power Category This category is based on the following criteria

  • Engineering qualities* Aesthetic and design qualities
  • The product’s intended use/function and user value
  • Unique/novel features that consumers would find attractive
  • How the design and innovation of the product compares to other products in the marketplace.

A winning device in this category for CES 2011 is the Energizer Inductive Charger What makes this charger different from other chargers is it uses the Qi standard. This means that any device that is also Qi enabled can use this charger no matter the manufacture, including mp3 players, digital cameras and phones. Devices are enabled by placing them in a sleeve that are then placed on the charger. Energizer will be introducing a QI sleeve for the Iphone 4 and also the Blackberry Curve 8900 along with their already existing sleeves for the Iphone 3GS/3G. As this standard catches on we can expect to see more sleeves for more devices. The Energizer Inductive Charger has two charging zones and a usb port for more charging possibilities. The charge itself will be around $89.00 and the sleeves will run around $35.00. Hopefully at some point the sleeves will no longer be necessary and Qi will become part of devices. I also wonder how well this device will work in a real world situation.

The Energizer Recharge Smart also won a CES Innovation 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honorees in the Portable Power Category. This recharging systems allows the user to see exactly how much juice is left in the batter, How long it will take to charge it. The Energizer Recharge Smart will also tell you if the battery is no longer rechargeable or if you put the wrong type of battery in the charger. The Energizer Recharge Smart charges both AA and AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries. The charger will have a MSPR of $19.99. As people have more portable devices having an easy way to charge them becomes increasingly important.