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


It’s Time for Dual-Band Bluetooth Please!

Posted by J Powers at 12:18 PM on July 18, 2013

170px-Bluetooth.svg[1]So this first week with my Google Glass has come with a lot of fun tasks like getting out and capturing the city through this new device. Yet, it also brought some annoyances – mainly the pairing of Glass to a mobile device. Whenever I got in my car, my Jabra hands-free unit kicked the Glass out and Glass never re-paired with it unless I manually re-paired.

Its not just Google Glass. I have a ZAGG folio on my iPad. I also have a Bluetooth headphones which I cannot use at the same time. I would like to use both – listen to music or podcasts and create an article or two. Instead, I pair the headset to my phone and the keyboard to my iPad.

As we continue down the mobile plug-free road, we’re going to be faced with the same problem as HDMI ports on a LCD TV have – too many devices fighting for limited connectors. Worst yet, we don’t want another device controlling our mobile Bluetooth connections in our pockets.

One way to solve would be to create a dual-band Bluetooth standard. This would be where the Bluetooth could pair 2 devices at the same time. Then you can have your headset and your keyboard work simultaneously.

Another option is a pass-through device. For example: device 1 could be a headset and device 2 (the passthrough) could be a keyboard. You would pair device 2 with device 1, then pair device 1 with the mobile. A little more complex and only effective if you have the passthrough device around.

Currently, Bluetooth version 4.0 has a data rate of 24 Mbit/s. A keyboard might not need that high of a data rate, whereas something like Google Glass might when pushing video. That is where data packeting can shine – giving 2 devices the ability to stay paired and the mobile device not overworked.

Of course, we also have to look at power consumption. Bluetooth low energy (BLE) protocol allows for Bluetooth to be in a nocturnal state. The device would have to also work dual-band so if device 1 is on and 2 is not, it can put half the device to sleep.

At any rate, these connection problems are only going to get worse as we rely on our mobile devices to become our primary computers. Current Bluetooth standards cannot meet that demand. With the growth of mobile devices starting to outpace computers (Gartner predicts 467,000 tablets sold vs. 271,000 PC’s in 2017), the list of companies wanting to connect to that device will grow. Soon enough, we may even need 4-band (or more) Bluetooth devices.

UGO Makes Little Speakers with Big Sound

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:50 PM on May 26, 2013

UGO SpeakerI had the opportunity to check out these cute, colorful, speakers in person yesterday. This was completely unexpected, because the place I found the UGO speakers at was a Strawberry Festival. That isn’t the type of event where one would expect to find anything tech related. (The festival did live up to its name, however, and had plenty of desserts that were filled with some of the biggest strawberries I’d ever seen).

The name of the company is UGO (which is pronounced “you- go”). They were among the many booths of vendors at the festival. What immediately caught my attention about them was that I could hear the music that was playing through the little speaker from several feet away over the noise from the crowd. I can see where having just one UGO speaker would work well for a person to use at home (or wherever else they decide to go).

UGO speakers come in six different colors: pink, blue, red, purple, black, yellow, and silver (as shown in my photo). The UGO mini-speaker costs $39.95, and the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker costs $129.95.

Each has a micro SD slot. You can load your favorite songs onto a Micro SD card, insert it into the UGO speaker, and the speaker itself becomes your music player. It also has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The website says it has a 30′ (9.14m) range in which the sound will carry. UGO offers a 12-month manufacturer guarantee. The vendor at the UGO booth at the Strawberry Fest said that the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker can be used with any Bluetooth enabled device.

Vivick’s Latest Gadgets

Posted by Andrew at 6:31 PM on February 26, 2013

Vivick HeadphonesCanadian firm Vivick produce a wide range of gadgets, covering everything from iPhone cases, laptop accessories and AV gear. Andy and Scott look at three of the latest products.

On show from Vivick is anLED desk lamp speaker that can be driven via Bluetooth but wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a 70s sci-fi movie. Continuing the theme, they had a Bluetooth headset which looked a bit more up-to-date but I can’t comment on the sound quality. Finally, they showed off a combo-laptop / USB rechargeable battery which had some really good design ideas. It seems to be a brand new product as it doesn’t yet feature on their website, but if you are a battery hogging traveller, keep an eye out for it.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Scott Ertz of F5 Live for the TechPodcast Network, who should be commended for keeping the interview going.

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Casio G-Shock with iPhone Mobile Link

Posted by Andrew at 7:22 PM on January 31, 2013

Casio G-Shock GB6900AAFor digital watches, there’s really only one range to look at – Casio G-Shock. From day-to-day wear to aviation and snowsports, there’s a G-Shock watch that will fulfil your needs. The GB6900AA takes this to a new level, providing incoming call and email notifications from your iPhone. Don straps it on.

The GB6900AA has all the features of a rugged digital watch, but it also has a low-power Bluetooth transceiver, allowing the watch to connect to the Apple iPhone and display or buzz on incoming phone calls and new emails. As a security feature the watch will alert the owner if they get too far, reminding them not to leave their phone behind.

The GB6900AA is currently only certified to work with the iPhone 4S and 5, and there’s Casio’s “G-SHOCK+” application to be downloaded from the App Store. However, an Android version is expected later in the year. Available now in limited numbers for $180.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Zooka Bluetooth Speakers

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2013

Zooka Anyone who has a tablet, or smart phone knows that their one weakness is their speakers. One solution is to use a speaker dock. The problem with this solution is that it requires an outlet to plug the dock into. This is not very useful if you are in a park or on a beach, the other solution is to use Bluetooth Speakers. This is where the Zooka speakers by Carbon Audio Inc come in. They are Bluetooth speakers made of medical grade silicon. There are no mechanical moving parts and no dock. It slides on to a tablet or top of a notebook. It was designed so it doesn’t hide the iSight camera. There is a kickstand which tucks away into the side and screws into the back. It includes:

  1. Two 30 mm speaker drivers at either end of the Zooka
  2. 30ft Bluetooth Range
  3. Rechargeable battery, providing up to 8 hours of playing
  4. Frequency response of 150 to 20,000 Hz

The Zooka is available at Target, Best Buy Amazon and at Carbon Audio Inc. It comes in a variety of colors and is priced at $99.00

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

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iHealth Blood Pressure Monitor at CES

Posted by Andrew at 6:15 PM on January 28, 2013

iHealth LogoJamie chats to Adam about the iHealth blood pressure monitor, an FDA-approved device that uses Bluetooth to transfer health data to a smartphone or tablet.

The new version  of the iHealth blood pressure monitor builds takes the original docking device and adds wireless data transfer using Bluetooth. The first version integrated with iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads but the Bluetooth feature expands the potential of the monitor to other smartphones and tablets. A cloud service complements the free app providing tracking and monitoring features and integration with other healthcare systems.

Aimed squarely at the home health market, there are two different models priced at $79 and $99, which is very affordable. Check out iHealth’s online store.

Interview by Jamie Davies of Health Tech Weekly.

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Pure Jongo at CES Unveiled

Posted by Andrew at 5:34 PM on January 21, 2013

Pure LogoAt this year’s CES, Pure launched Jongo, the world’s most affordable (and colourful) multi-room music system. Vicky tells Todd all about it.

The Jongo range will shortly include a couple of wireless speakers and a hi-fi adaptor, all with both Bluetooth and wi-fi built-in. Music can be streamed using the Pure Connect app via wi-fi to any speaker in range or else smartphones and tablets can stream music directly to the speakers using Bluetooth. Both Apple iOs and Android devices are supported and it uses the existing wi-fi infrastructure: there’s no need for special transmitters.

The S340B speaker will be available soon and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Price is listed as $229.
The stereo speaker (T640B) and the hi-fi adaptor (A140B) will be on-sale in the summer with MSRPs of $329 and $119, respectively.

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

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Armadillo outdoor Bluetooth speaker unveiled

Posted by Alan at 6:27 PM on January 7, 2013

Outdoor Gear announced today a new outdoor speaker, appropriately named the Armadillo. The new speaker works with Bluetooth 4.0 to play your tunes outside without need of worry about the weather conditions.

The company describes the new device as “A larger version of its predecessor, the Turtle Shell®, the Armadillo is a rugged shelled boombox that will allow you to dig into the dirt and experience the outdoor terrain with your favorite tunes via AirPlay or Bluetooth. Ideal for camping and for the home, the Armadillo is shockproof, waterproof, allows for daisy chaining and provides a USB port for charging other devices.”

Details as to release and pricing were left vague with the release being set for “later in 2013″ and pricing completely non-existent (the Turtle Shell is $149). While the Armadillo looks good for a backyard party, I don’t see lugging it on a camping and hiking trip as a viable option. Perhaps if you park and stay at a campground then sure, but my son and I hike from place to place and camp, mostly backwoods, and packing light and moving quickly is a priority that these luxuries do not lend themselves to.

Westinghouse announces new Bluetooth speaker line

Posted by Alan at 7:26 AM on January 6, 2013

Just ahead of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, longtime electronics manufacturer Westinghouse has announced a new lineup of bluetooth speakers. These are compatible with most every phone and tablet, as well as the iPod touch. The “unplug” series comes in four different models.

However, these tiny systems are more than just speakers. According to Westinghouse, the AIO model “charges the phone or tablet and offers a remarkable feature set, including AC and DC chargers, a MicroSD slot for additional music files or backup, and a built-in speakerphone, thanks to an internal microphone with noise suppression and echo cancellation for amazing call clarity.”

In addition, all but the lowest end model contain MicroSD card slots and the company claims 16-20 hours of battery life for each of the models.

The devices will range in price from $99 to $229 with AIO, 200 and 300 becoming available sometime in the first quarter of this year. The Unplug 100 is available now.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Update

Posted by tomwiles at 3:30 PM on October 21, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3About a month ago I retired my trusty Sprint Evo 4G (original Wimax version) and got a Samsung Galaxy S3.

My initial impression of the Galaxy S3 was quite positive. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time now with the Galaxy S3, so I want to give a bit of an update on my experience with it. I drive a truck over the road and also use it as a podcast aggregator and playback device, so I am spending even more direct time with my phone than the average consumer might.

The Sprint version of the S3 is currently using the so-called “Ice Cream Sandwich” Android 4.04.

Battery life is excellent compared to the three previous smartphones I’ve had over the past several years using the stock battery that came with it.

The large 4.8” inch AMOLED LCD high resolution touchscreen is superb, with excellent color saturation. The extremely thin form factor allows me to easily carry the phone around in a front pocket.

Performance remains excellent even though I’ve installed several dozens and dozens of apps. App performance is rock solid. I had many of the same apps on my HTC Evo that would sometimes crash or cause problems that run perfectly on the Galaxy S3. I attribute this performance increase to more primary phone memory and perhaps better overall hardware design architecture. It’ likely that people that experience problems with certain apps are really experiencing lack of enough physical memory in their device in the same way that desktop computers experience fewer crashes and more overall stability when they have more physical RAM in which to execute the program code.

The Galaxy S3 has excellent WiFi performance. Connected to a Verizon MiFi 4G WiFi hotspot the WiFi has no slowdown issues even when simultaneously using Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth functionality works pretty well overall, but not quite as good as the HTC Evo. I have a JVC Stereo-Bluetooth-capable stereo in my pickup that functioned just fine with the Evo in speakerphone mode that doesn’t work properly with the Galaxy S3. I can hear callers through the stereo speakers but they cannot hear me through the return channel microphone. I don’t know if there is a Bluetooth version number conflict that could possibly resolve the problem via a JVC firmware upgrade, or if the problem might be resolved when Sprint and Samsung release the next “Jelly Bean” version of Android for the Sprint version of the Galaxy S3.

This problem with the S3’s Bluetooth not working properly with my JVC stereo is even more perplexing, since it works perfectly well with the other Bluetooth devices that I own, including a Tango TRX high fidelity Bluetooth stereo speaker that also can work as a speakerphone.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with the Galaxy S3. This is one of the most amazing pieces of technology I’ve ever owned.

In my opinion, the Galaxy S3 is currently the best phone on the market today.