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


Payleven Mobile Payments at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 4:39 PM on April 27, 2014

Payleven Chip and PINOne of the common problems facing start-ups and small businesses are the costs associated with taking credit card payments. The transaction costs can be high for small turnovers and point-of-sale machines are expensive with a monthly rental fee. To counter this problem, Payleven offers a low-cost mobile payment solution for European businesses using a Chip’n’PIN card reader that uses Bluetooth to communicate with both Apple, Android and Amazon smartphones and tablets. The Chip’n’PIN unit costs only GB£60 (ex-VAT) with a transaction charge of 2.75%. Payleven have partnered with GoTab to offer a complete solution for around £250 including a tablet and the card reader.

The approach is similar to US-based Square, but as Chip’n’PIN is only beginning to be required across the pond, Square’s reader unit is a simpler card-swipe device that plugs straight into the smartphone. Having a full Chip’n’PIN card reader in Europe is a necessity but the independent unit makes the transaction look much more professional anyway.

Simon from Payleven tells me about their solution and takes me through some of the features.

Livescribe 3 Smart Pen

Posted by Andrew at 10:06 PM on March 4, 2014

Livescribe 3

Writing is one of humankind’s greatest inventions and it’s no surprise that despite the arrival of typewriters, keyboards, mice and voice recognition, most people just write stuff down in notebooks or on bits of paper. That doesn’t easily transfer into a digital record but Livescribe reckon that they have a solution to this problem with their digital pens. Todd takes notes with Brian Kemp.

Livescribe have a long history in this space, and their latest digital pen, the Livescribe 3, continues the tradition. Using specially printed notebooks, a tiny camera installed in the pen tracks the path of the pen across the page, converting the motion into handwriting that is then transferred to a nearby Apple iPad or iPhone using Bluetooth. Once the writing is in the iPad app, you can then starting doing clever things, such as adding contacts to your address book or dialling phone numbers. An Android version is expected later in the year.

The Livescribe 3 is available now for $150 with notebooks retailing at around $25 for a pack of 4. The price of paper products varies depending on size and style.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard

Posted by Andrew at 12:06 PM on January 24, 2014

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Todd chats with Tracy from Kanex at CES Digital Experience about their new Multi-Sync Keyboard for Apple devices.

Although touch is great way of interacting with tablets and smartphones, it really doesn’t replace a keyboard when it comes to large amounts of text entry. In response, many manufacturers have come out with add-on keyboards that typically connect to the tablet via Bluetooth. These are generally useful devices but usually it’s one keyboard-one device and often there’s already a keyboard on the desk for the PC, so the desk simply gets more cluttered.

Kanex’s solution the Multi-Sync Keyboard which allows 3 Bluetooth and 1 USB connection to be maintained at any one time – Mac, iPhone and iPad. The user can then switch between connections, entering text into just one device at a time but being able to connect to up to 4 devices. Brilliant! Currently, it’s only available for Apple devices, but future versions should support PCs.

On-sale now for US$69.95 at www.kanexlive.com.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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BeeWi Combat Toys

Posted by Andrew at 11:58 AM on January 24, 2014

BeeWi LogoTodd and Don have some fun with Tobias Schoeler from French wireless specialists, BeeWi, and on show at CES are Bluetooth battle robots. Controlled from a smartphone app, the robots can fight against themselves or other BeeWi remote controlled toys including helicopters. Very cool and lots of fun.

The robots will be available in the first half of 2014 priced at US$35 and will be supported on Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. More information and more toys at www.bee-wi.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor, and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Korus Portable Wireless Speakers

Posted by Andrew at 10:16 PM on January 22, 2014

Korus LogoTodd and Don interview Nortek‘s Rob Halligan about the new wireless speaker system called Korus, which instead of using wifi or Bluetooth, uses SKAA, a wireless hi-fi audio standard that won CES Innovation awards in 2010 and 2011. The benefit of SKAA is low latency and greater range, but the downside is that it’s not built-in to any smartphone, tablet or media player. This is solved via a dongle, the Korus Baton, a SKAA transceiver which comes in USB, Apple Lightning and Apple 30 pin variants. Plug it in to the PC, Mac or Apple device and you are good to go. An Android version is expected later in the year.

Using SKAA rather than wifi or Bluetooth also means that there’s no faffing around with SSIDs or pairing with PINs; it’s simply a case of pressing a button on the wireless speaker and the speaker locks onto the nearest Baton. Press the button again and it moves onto the next.

Korus currently have two speaker units for sale, the V400 and V600, priced at a penny shy of US$350 and $450 respectively on the Korus shop at www.korussound.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Motorola Moto X Comes to the UK

Posted by Andrew at 4:12 AM on January 14, 2014

Motorola M LogoAs widely rumoured, the Motorola Moto X is coming to the UK and the rest of Europe. The specs and features seem as per the US version – touchless control for Google Now, Active Display, Connect extension for Chrome and twist to start camera. KitKat will be on the Moto X out of the box and as expected, it looks like Motorola’s touch on the OS has been relatively light, with the addition of apps such as Migrate and Assist which were seen previously in the Moto G.

Specwise, it’s Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System which includes a software optimised Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (1.7GHz Dual-Core Krait CPU, quad-core Adreno 320 GPU), a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor. RAM is 2 GB (excellent!) with 16 GB and 32 GB storage versions available. To sweeten the deal, there’s two years of 50 GB storage free on Google Drive.

All the latest wireless technology is included with Bluetooth 4.0 LE + EDR, wifi 802.11a/g/b/n/ac and LTE bands 800/1800/2600MHz (B20/B3/B7). Of course it has 2G and 3G as well. 10 MP rear camera and 2 MP HD front camera.

Motorola Moto X

There’s no information in the press release regarding the customisations that are available in the US, only that there will be a black version and a white version. Update: Motorola have confirmed that Moto Maker will not be available at launch but they are exploring options.

The Moto X will be available in black from 1st February from Phones 4u, Carphone Warehouse, O2, Amazon and Techdata.  The white Moto X will be an exclusive for Phones 4u for the first three months.  Prices vary but start from GB£25 per month on contract or £380 SIM free and off-contract. As with the Moto G, that’s a pretty good price for a 4G SIM-free smartphone.

Sennheiser presents PRESENCE™ Mobile Headset at CES

Posted by Mike Dell at 11:41 AM on January 9, 2014

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Sennheiser, is introducing  the PRESENCE™ Mobile Headset, a Bluetooth headset for mobile professionals and private users requiring outstanding sound quality and HD voice clarity. Building on Sennheiser’s 70-year history, the new SpeakFocus™ and WindSafe™ technologies give users with a rich communication experience in noisy environments ,  indoors or outdoors.

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The PRESENCE™ Mobile Headset is equipped with three digital microphones and the new SpeakFocus™ technology that detects the user’s voice and filters out background noise, allowing phone calls in noisy environments and providing listeners with a crystal clear sound experience. WindSafe™ technology reduces wind noise effectively, reducing one of the biggest sources of annoyance for person you are talking to. It does so by choosing the best mix of the three microphones and processes the sound to decide the ideal way to balance and enhance your voice.

Andreas Bach, President at Sennheiser Communications said: “As mobile professionals and private users increasingly need to be accessible on the move, there is a need for high quality equipment that delivers the best possible call experience – even in challenging environments. PRESENCE™ Mobile Headset incorporates Sennheiser’s latest innovations – the SpeakFocus™ and WindSafe™ technologies – providing users with outstanding sound quality and performance they will appreciate wherever they are.”

Sennheiser says that the PRESENCE headset will give the user up to 10 hours to talk time. The MSRP is $179.95. Availability has not been announced as of this posting. For more information, visit www.sennheiserusa.com.

Kwikset adds Remote Unlocking to Kevo at CES

Posted by Andrew at 5:59 PM on January 8, 2014

Kwikset KevoThe Kwikset Kevo is a deadbolt lock that uses Bluetooth communication as well as a physical key to lock and unlock doors. Currently it only works with Apple iPhones but it looks really cool. You walk up to the door, touch the Kevo lock, the lock checks your eKey on your phone and the door opens. There’s a whole host of clever features based around eKeys which can be transferred to people you trust and owners can receive notifications of when the lock is opened. The glossy video below shows the main features of the Kevo.

The Kevo has been available for a few months and at CES, Kwikset are responding to customer feedback with new enhancements to the Kevo lock system. The Kevo Bluetooth Gateway will be available in the summer and the unit will allow owners to remotely lock and unlock Kevo using their smartphone, say when a relative visits from out of town or a neighbour unexpectedly needs to feed pets.

Kwikset is quickly expanding the value Kevo delivers to current and future owners through a series of Kevo technology advancements, beginning with remote functionality, based on the desires of today’s consumer” said Keith Brandon, director, residential access solutions. “Kevo continues to be the breakthrough smart lock technology on the market, gaining recognition from the CES Innovation Awards, among many others.

As you might expect, the Kevo locks don’t come cheap at around US$220 but it looks like a neat solution and once Kwikset (a) get it working on Android and (b) produce a UK version, I might well be interested.

BRAVEN Shows off the BRV-X Outdoor Speaker System at CES

Posted by Mike Dell at 9:15 AM on January 8, 2014

BRAVEN-logoBRAVEN is showing off it’s new Outdoor speaker system at the 2014 International CES this week in Las Vegas. The BRV-X is touted as “The First True Outdoor Speaker” featuring an exclusive outdoor listening setting that maximizes sound quality and volume in open-air environments. The BRV-X is IPX5 water-resistant rated (which means it was tested with water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from all directions with no harmful effects for up to 15 minutes). It also features a Noise Canceling mic for taking bluetooth calls.

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The BRV-X can even charge USB Devices with an integrated power bank. You can pair a second BRV-X using TrueWireless™ Technology for true left and right stereo sound.

“The BRV-X’s proprietary settings rearrange the frequency of the audio to achieve the best sound in both indoor and outdoor environments,” stated Andy Fathollahi, Chief Executive, BRAVEN. “Different from any other self-proclaimed outdoor speaker in the market, the BRV-X is fine-tuned to its surroundings, guaranteeing crisp, clear and loud audio in any location.”

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At this time there is no Pricing or Availablity information. See http://www.braven.com/ for information and annoncements about BRAVEN.

Bluetooth Cassette? What will they think of next?

Posted by Mike Dell at 5:16 PM on January 6, 2014

ion_logo ion has come out with something that, at first, made no sense to me. A Cassette Bluetooth adaptor. But, then, I remembered that I still have a car in my fleet that has a cassette stereo in it and thought to myself. “Hmmm… that does make sense!”.

The Cassette Bluetooth adaptor transforms you car’s cassette deck into a bluetooth music reciever that streams music (and podcasts) wirelessly from any smartphone or music player that has bluetooth connectivity. The unit turns off and on automatically when put in or ejected from your deck and has a rechargeable battery that will last up to 6 hours. You can even use it to make hands-free phone calls.

From the looks of it, you can charge it with the included USB cable while it’s in use. (Depending on your cassette player).

CassetteAdapterBluetooth_web_1-580x363

A very handy device for someone who likes to avoid car payments and still keeps their old tape deck equipped cars. I couldn’t find any pricing information or when it will be released.

For more info, see: http://www.ionaudio.com/products/details/cassette-adapter-bluetooth