BeZilch Marketplace for Unwanted Tech

beZilch LogoFreshly-launched beZilch is a marketplace for the trade of unwanted tech in the space between the auction houses and the fixed price trade-in centres. Jared Hansen, Founder and CEO, sells it to Todd and Todd.

If you want the most money for unwanted gadgetry, generally an online auction is the way to go, but the auction takes time to run and the fees can be expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, fixed price trade-in centres give you the cash quickly but the price can often be quite low. beZilch proposes a middle ground where both buyers and sellers can post ads.

Say you want a phone for your careless kids; first you can check to see if anyone is selling a phone in the price range you are thinking about. If not, post that you want a Samsung S3 and you’ll pay $100 for it.

Sellers can then check out the ads and consider if they’re willing to sell at that price for a quick sale. If they’re not happy with the prices on offer, they can post an ad with the price they’re looking for. Both sides can see what’s on offer and beZilch lets people choose between convenience and money.

Transactions are secured by PayPal so both sides are covered and for sellers the auctions fees are a flat 4% – there’s no complicated fee structure.

It’s a neat idea and offers an alternative channel to the big sites that we’re all familiar with. Let’s hope it gets some traction.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Todd Aune of The Elder Divide for the TechPodcast Network.

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Standzout Brings Bandstand Prototype to CES

The BandstandStandzout has created what is being called “the first great Apple Watch Accessory”. It is called Bandstand. You can check out prototypes of it at the Standzout booth at CES.

Bandstand is a docking station for the Apple Watch. It is intended to be the nightly home for your new favorite tech gadget. Just take off your Apple Watch and place it onto the stand. The platform the watch sits on can pivot. This allows you to adjust the angle of the watch for visibility from any angle.

The base of the Bandstand has room for you to charge your other devices, including the iPad and iPhone. In other words, while you are charging your Apple Watch, you can also charge up to two more USB devices simultaneously. The Bandstand also has an adjustable brightness LED light in the body which makes it easy to locate in the dark.

Those that want to stay up to date with information about the Bandstand can sign up for product launch information at the Standzout website. The Bandstand is set to launch alongside the release of the Apple Watch in the Spring of 2015. Visit Standzout at Booth #6728 in the LVCC North Hall at CES 2015 to check out the Bandstand prototype.

Impecca Introduces The Alert Band at CES 2015

Impecca LogonewImpecca will introduce The Alert Band at CES 2015. It is a wearable early warning Bluetooth fatigue detector for drivers. It was created after a friend of the person who developed The Alert Band was severely injured in a car accident. Another driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit the friend’s car.

Impecca The Alert Band Photo with manTo use The Alert Band, a driver needs to wear it on his or her forehead. There are sensors in The Alert Band that monitor and analyze brainwaves. It can determine the driver’s fatigue level.

A zero indicates that the driver is fully awake and 100 means the person should not be driving. Those that receive a fatigue score of 80 are considered dangerous. They should stop driving and take a rest immediately.

The Alert Band can send real-time notifications and alarms to not only the driver’s smartphone, but also to the smartphones of his or her friends and family. It can also send alerts via social media. The warning can be sent out 3-5 minutes before the driver starts to doze off and fall asleep. The notification alarm is intended to wake up the driver and save lives.

Impecca says it has done years of testing of the Alert Band, with hundreds of participants, on a simulator. The Alert Band is said to be 90% accurate. It requires Bluetooth 4.0 technology to connect to either Android or iOS smartphones via an app (that comes with The Alert Band). It also has a rechargeable battery that lasts for 20 hours.

The Alert Band will be available in May of 2015 through Impecca and other retailers. It will be priced at $249.99. Impecca will be at CES Booth #30932.

TrackR Bravo Goes to CES

Trackr LogoIndigogo darling TrackR is at CES 2015 to show off the latest incarnation of its mini trackers, the TrackR bravo. If you aren’t familiar with TrackR products, they’re small, coin-sized devices which easily attach to valuable items that you want to track, from keys to laptops and pets. And if you do misplace something precious, the TrackR app for both iOS and Android, can locate any lost item in seconds by ringing your missing item or point the way using TrackR’s Distance Indicator. If it’s really lost, you can use Crowd GPS to track it down.

Trackr Bravo

The latest version, the TrackR bravo, raised over $1 000 000 in funding at Indigogo and is in the closing stages of development with full production expected in February 2015. It’s only 3.5 mm thick and 31 mm across, making it easy to attach and there are accessories such as a pet collar attachment and a waterproof housing. The TrackR bravo can be pre-ordered for $29.

TrackR received a batch of the latest development samples just in time for the CES and they’ll be at the Sands Expo Booth #74335. Pop round and see the TrackR bravo in person.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset Review

Kingston LogoKingston have long been a brand of choice for gaming professionals, expecially when overclocking the HyperX range of memory modules to within a megahertz of their life. Not content with the inside of the PC, Kingston has put the performance brand on the outside with the HyperX Cloud headset. Sensibly they’ve not tried to start from scratch but partnered with Swedish pro gamers Qpad to get into the market. Let’s take a look.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Box

Initial impressions are good. The HyperX Cloud headset comes in a solid well-finished box that pulls smoothly apart to reveal the headset and accessories. There’s a slightly cheesy marketing message from the HyperX Gaming Manager in silver on the inside of the lid, but it’s a nice touch.

Kingston HyperX Cloud in Box

As you’ll see from the pics, the version on review is the white with black edition; there’s a black with red version if you want to look a bit tougher. Taking the headphones out of the box, they feel pretty good and well-made for the price point. There are no rough edges, the headband stitching looks good and the embroidery is neat. The audio lead is braided rather than bare PVC and that alone helps with the tangles. It’s the end of the lead that gives away the fact that the HyperX Cloud isn’t only for listening to music as rather than a single 3.5mm jack, there’s a pair; one for audio in (the headphones) and the other for audio out (the microphone).

Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset

The detachable boom mic is on the left hand side of the box and plugs cleanly into a socket on the left hand ear cup. A small insert covers the socket when the microphone’s not needed to keep things neat. The boom is flexible and can be positioned to suit.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset with Mic

In the box there’s a comprehensive selection of accessories including an extension lead, in-line mic set and an adaptor to take the two 3.5mm stereo jacks into a single TRRS connector, as used in mobile phones. There’s even one of the adaptors needed for annoying aircraft seats, so whether it’s a PC, tablet, phone or plane, the HyperX Cloud can jack in.

But enough of the features….what is the HyperX Cloud like to use? To start with, the headphones are very comfortable to wear, especially when the leather-style pads are swapped for the included velour ones. I wore the headphones for several multi-album sessions without any soreness and would definitely recommend them for extended gaming sessions too. Obviously the preference between enclosed and on-ear cups is a personal one but for comfort, I think these are hard to beat.

Sonically, I used the headphones for gaming, music and IP telephony with Microsoft’s Lync. In the office, the headset is great. One minute you are listening to music, the next minute you are taking a phone call with no need to fumble around taking the headset off while picking up the phone. Voices were clear and callers could hear me well. Moving on to music listening, it’s always hard to critique without sounding critical. I thought the HyperX Cloud headset reproduced sound well with good clarity across the range. The sound could have been richer and more exciting but I was perfectly happy listening to the HyperX Cloud all day. Playing games, the headset was great with gunshots and explosions blowing up in your ears. Car engines came across well, so this headset was made for GTA. As with phone calls, abuse, sorry, conversation with fellow gamers was clear.

Overall, there’s not much to dislike and a great deal to enjoy with the Kingston HyperX Cloud headset. It’s well made and comfortable to wear, and comes with everything needed to plug-in. Audio quality is good without being outstanding. The Kingston HyperX Cloud has a list price of GB£79.99 but can be found on-line for less.  Stick it on your Christmas list.

Thanks to Kingston for providing the review headset.

Sennheiser has New Portable Speakerphones

Sennheiser SP 20 SpeakerphoneThe Sennheiser Speakerphone Series features portable, stylish, speakerphones that can easily be used by business professionals who need to attend online conferences. It can also be used for personal communication. Each speakerphone comes with its own protective carrying pouch. Plug it into your computer and you are ready for a conference call.

The SP 10 and the SP 20 enable business professionals to easily make personal or small group conference calls. Each model features “plug in and talk” simplicity. The SP 10 connects to the PC/softphone. The SP 20 connects to the PC/softphone via a USB cable, or to a mobile phone or tablet via a 3.5 mm jack plug. The SP 20/20 version lets call participants connect via mobile phone and PC.

Both speakerphones use Sennheiser’s high definition sound quality, voice clarity, and echo cancellation. The “dual talk” button lets users interrupt a conversation more naturally. Together, these features ensure better call interactions.

The interface on the speakerphones is intuitive. There are buttons that you can use to control the volume and to mute the mic. It gives you “hands free” control. When you aren’t on a conference call, the speakerphones can be used to play music.

The Sennheiser Speakerphone Series is compatible with all UC providers. They are also optimized for Microsoft Lync on both Microsoft Windows and Mac. They are also compatible for use with UC providers like Avaya, IBM, and Cisco. Both speakerphones are available now. The SP 10 is $179.95 and the SP 20 is $199.95.

Mugen USB Voltage and Current Meter

Mugen Power Batteries LogoMugen keep producing gadgets that I need but never knew I wanted in the first place. The item in question is a USB voltage and current meter that measures the electricity flowing in a USB connection by connecting inbetween the charging USB port and the charger cable. This could be very handy if you are having charging problems and want to check the volts and amps.

 

Mugen USB Meter

The USB Charger Doctor costs only US$9.99 and is scheduled to ship in mid-December. It’s on my Christmas list!

Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens for Samsung Galaxy Review

Olloclip LogoFor the “point’n’shoot” photographer, smartphones and their built-in cameras have almost completely replaced the compact camera which has seen a huge drop in sales over the past few years. Despite the handiness of the smartphone camera and the myriad of post-processing effects beloved by Instagram, there are times where the problem is getting the right image in the first place. Smartphones with macro or wide-angle lenses aren’t common.

This is where Olloclip saw a gap in the market and via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2011, developed a selection of clip-on lenses for the iPhone and iPad, including macro, fisheye and wide-angle lenses. These have become fairly well-known and I’ve even seen a few people using Olloclips on their iPhone in real life. Not content with Apple owners having all the fun, Olloclip have launched a version of the 4-in-1 lens for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5. Let’s take a look.

The 4-in-1 lens system for the Galaxy S4 consists of a mounting bracket that holds two macro lenses and two additional feature lenses that screw in on top of the macro lenses. One of the lenses is a fisheye and the other wide-angle. The bracket is well-made, with metal inserts to hold the screw-in lenses and the lenses are glass; by using different threads on the bracket, it’s not possible screw in the wrong lens. The bracket can be attached from the left or the right to get the correct lens in front of the phones camera. Take a look at the pictures of the Olloclip below to see how it all works.

Olloclip with Lenses

Olloclip with Lenses Removed

Samsung with Olloclip

In use, the Olloclip is straightforward – clip on the bracket with the lens you want to use in front of the camera and then start taking pictures using your favourite camera app. Simples!

To test out the Olloclip 4-in-1, I used a Samsung Galaxy S4 borrowed from a colleague and got snapping. Here are a few macro pictures that I took of a coin and the detail is impressive.

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

And here are a few photos of a local landmark using the normal S4 camera, the wide-angle lens and the fisheye lens. I’m no Ansel Adams, that’s for sure.

Native S4 Camera

Olloclip Wide-Angle

Olloclip Fisheye

I was impressed with the Olloclip and with more interesting subject matter, I could have a lot of fun. I particularly liked the macro capabilities and the fisheye was fun too; I was quite surprised at the width of the field of view. Overall, the 4-in-1 was easy to use, clipping on and off in seconds, and significantly increased the photographic possibilities of the Galaxy S4. . On the downside, you do have to remember to bring the Olloclip with you, and the on/off and volume buttons are obstructed by the bracket when in use. The other problem can be with Samsung cases, which often replace the smartphone’s back. If you have one of these cases, you’ll find that the Olloclip won’t clip on and you’ll need to revert to the original case.

The Olloclip 4-in-1 for the Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 is available direct from the website or through other on-line retailers. Priced at a penny under US$70 or GB£60, it’s more than an impulse purchase but if you are photographer or want to get more from your camera, it’s worth forking out for. Hopefully enough Galaxy owners will purchase to persuade Olloclip to look at other popular Android smartphones as well.

Thanks to Olloclip for the review 4-in-1 lens and to Jacinta for the loan of the Galaxy S4.

Night Stars Landscape Lights Add Sparkle to your Home

Night Stars Landscape Lights LogoAre you someone who struggles to put up (and take down) Christmas lights? I know that it is a bit early to start thinking about Christmas decorations. Even so, if you plan ahead you might be able to save yourself the hassle of putting up your outdoor Christmas lights after the weather gets cold and icy.

Night Stars Landscape Lights are laser lights that come in three different varieties: green, green and red, or green, red, and blue. They are designed to be used either indoors or outdoors. They project points of brightly colored lights onto walls, landscapes, pools, and whatever else you point them at. The purpose is to add some decorative effects and atmosphere to a party or celebration.

The lights have an optional flash/pulse setting. There is an RF remote that lets you control your Night Stars lights from anywhere in and around your home. They also have a built in timer that can run for 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours. There are instructions on their website that tells you how to set up the lights. It appears to be extremely important that you follow the directions and use the product only as directed.

The first thing I thought of when I saw these lights was that they resembled Christmas lights. The Night Stars Landscape Lights might be an interesting alternative for those who are not looking forward to climbing ladders, untangling cords, and going out into the cold to put up lights this year. The lights can be reused to add atmosphere to birthday parties and other celebrations.

Wearables Come To SXSW

SXSWAt times it feels like SXSW has become a mini-CES, with all the hot innovations popping up. Wearables combined with health and well-being are definitely where it’s at and this year Philips are hosting a Dragon’s Den-style Digital Innovation Challenge, with three companies pitching their tech for a week’s advice and guidance at Philip’s High Tech Campus in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

First up are Atlas Wearables, pitching their fitness tracker for the serious workout enthusiast. The Atlas “measures your heart rate, calculates the calories you burned and tracks your body on the x-, y- and z-axes, so it knows how many laps you swam and if you did push-ups or triangle push-ups. It’s preloaded with the most popular exercises and can learn new exercises you teach it so you can instantly see your progress, analyze your form, anticipate plateaus and find what makes you stronger, faster.” Definitely for the hardcore fitness fanatic.

Incomparable Things is very much softer – they’re building an app to bring together the myriad of data sources – “In our app, people scrapbook the stories of their adventures. We collect all the media people already create when they’re being active – from photos to location data, NikeFuel to tweets – and weave them together to tell visual, personal and complete stories that others can collect and aspire to. They are more memorable than a photo album and more inspiring than an activity data score. It is used by everyone from daily walkers to training triathletes, neighborhood arborists to polar expeditionists.” Sounds a bit like Field Trip meets Pose! I love the idea of these apps but I simply don’t have the time to curate the photos and tweets.

Finally, Push is back to circuits and training with another fitness tracker that seems very similar to the Atlas one. “Rugged and durable, PUSH straps comfortably to your arm. It communicates with your phone, transmitting movement feedback that’s too fast for the human eye to capture. The data is displayed on the PUSH App, providing you with crucial, scientifically-validated metrics about each and every rep, helping you optimize your training.” It’s kind of symptomatic of the space that there’s going to very similar devices competing for attention. Push’s USP is that it can measure strength, not simply calories burned.

If you want to see these three companies pitch, you need to get yourself round to the Next Stage in the Convention Centre at 12.30 CDT today.