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


Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch Needs a Woman’s Touch

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:08 PM on September 5, 2013

Samsung Yesterday, Sept 4 Samsung announce the release of the Galaxy Gear Smart-watch. This is part of an expanding line of smart watches including the Pebble, the Sony Smart-watch and the mythical Apple iWatch. Smart watches are a portion of a larger group of wearable computers, which include Google Glass. Wearable computers are a key part of the contextual world, which according to tech gurus such as Robert Scoble, and others this is the future. If this is so , then the future needs some work before I am ready to greet it.

The Samsung smart watch has an 1.63 inches AMOLED screen, 320×320 resolution, an 800 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. The 315 mAH lithium-ion battery is supposed to last a day, (it is not clear if a day is 12 hours, 24 hours or 18 hours) even if it is only 12 hours critics say this is being generous. Currently it will only work with the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1. It may work with other Galaxy devices later this year once they get update to Android 4.3. However if you have any other phone for now you are out of luck. Samsung says there will be over 70 apps available for the watch. At this time according to Techradar twelve are known.

Having a lot of apps is great, but for people to buy the watch it must be more convenient for the person to use the watch then it is for them to pull their phone out of their pockets. which means the apps have to pull up fast, with no lag. Also the watch has to be something that you will want to wear daily. To me this is the biggest place that the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart-watch fails, it is highly unfashionable. The screen size doesn’t include the bezel that is around the screen, so we are talking about a pretty bulky device especially for a woman’s wrist. The strap is made of plastic and comes in a variety of colors including orange, oatmeal, yellow and black. I don’t know about other people but when someone says plastic strap I think of the kind of watch I wore when I was eight or nine. I am not sure I want to wear it as an adult. I want to like the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart-watch, but I just can’t. I see it as a small step toward a future that is coming, it just not here yet. Apple it is your turn.

AfterShokz Sportz M2 Review

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:04 AM on August 15, 2013

AfterShokz M2 In my never-ending search for headphones that are comfortable and I can use while walking along the roadside in the morning I brought a pair of AfterShokz Sportz M2. What makes AfterShokz different then most other headphones is that it uses bone conduction to work. Instead of placing the earpiece in your ear, it lays in front of your ear along your jawbone. The sound is then conducted through the bone into the inner ear.

I wore it yesterday morning while walking two miles in hot and humid weather and it was quite comfortable. Once I figured out where to set them to get the best sound they stayed there, despite my sweating. While on the walk I listen to some music and a bit of a podcast. The podcast came through well, I could hear it clearly even when a car went by. The music was fine, the bass was a little weak but not bad. The volume control and on off switch is on a small box on the cable which you can clip on to your shirt. The model I brought also has a switch to answer phone calls. I don’t make or receive a lot of phone calls so haven’t been able to test that yet.

Overall I am happy with the AfterShokz Sportz M2. They were comfortable, stayed put even while sweating and the audio was fine. However they are not perfect, as I said before although the audio was fine the bass was weak. So if you like bass thumping music, these are probably not the headphones for you. Also if you wear glasses these are not the headphones for you. I tried to wear my glasses and it didn’t work, I couldn’t get the headphones to lay correctly. If you are not an audiophile, don’t wear glasses and are interested in headphones that use bone conductivity I would take a look at the AfterShokz M2.

Ouya Review

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:08 AM on June 26, 2013

Ouya My Ouya finally came late yesterday afternoon. First a little background from me, I am not a gamer, I have no hand to eye coordination so I am not very good, but I enjoy playing them. I have been without a gaming console for a couple of years now and I miss not having one. I had thought about buying a Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3 but I couldn’t bring my self to pay $400 to $500 on a console that I knew was going to be replaced in a short time. When I heard all the noise about the new gaming console that was a Kickstarter project called Ouya I became intrigued. So, at the beginning of April after the Kickstarter project had become successful I preordered one. The email I received from Ouya stated that I would not receive the console until June, which was fine with me. I was aware how Kickstarter worked. However I have to admit when yesterday rolled around and I started seeing articles that the Ouya would be available for purchase at places like Amazon, Best Buy, Target and more I was a little upset that I hadn’t received mine yet. I was therefor very happy when my husband came in with it, saying it had been thrown in the bushes.

The Ouya comes in a small box about the size of a shoe box but slightly narrower. In the box you get the console, one controller, a power cable, a HDMI cable and a brief instruction book. The Ouya console itself is quite small. It is only three inches by three inches by three inches and is square with a rounded front. The console is made of plastic, but feels fairly solid and heavy for it size. There is a fan on one end and the power button on the other end. On the back there is a HDMI port, a power input, an ethernet input and a USB input. I was actually pleasantly surprised that a HDMI cable came with the console, although it is fairly short. The controller, which is bigger then the console does feels cheap. You can tell that it was made from a mold. The buttons on the controller are placed similar to how the Xbox controller is set up. Because it is so large and I have small hands (although normal I think for a women) it does feel a little awkward to me.

The setup went fairly smoothly after and initial hiccup. Because the Ouya is black I didn’t see the power button on the front, so when I first plugged the Ouya in and connected it to my monitor and nothing happened I was quite upset. I even tried a different outlet and still nothing. I was getting ready to send it back, when I took a closer look at it and noticed the indentation on the front face and when I pushed it the power came on. A simple red line around it to indicate power would have been appreciated. That problem solved the rest of the set up went fairly quickly and without a hitch. It does take some time since it has to be updated with the latest firmware. During the setup process you do have to provide a credit card number so you will need to have one available. Once setup is done you have to pair the controller. I had no problem with that once I figured out that the batteries went into the wings of the controllers. I have noticed also that the controller loses its pairing with the console occasionally. Not when playing a game but when I restart the console I will sometimes will have to reconnect the controller to it. Once you fire the Ouya up the first screen you will see is the management screen on it there is an option to play the games you have already chosen, discover new games, make a new games (if you are a developer) and manage your account, and the system.


Most of the games you will find on the Ouya are not ones you will recognize, unless you play a lot of independent games. However there are some that will feel familiar to you even if the names are different. There is one called Polarity which is a lot like Portal and another one called Puddle which reminds me of World of Goo my iPad. There were a some games I did recognize like Final Fantasy III, You Don’t Know Jack and Canabalt. I played a little bit of a couple of games, including Polarity and Puddle and everything seemed to work fine. The reaction time between when I pushed the button on the controller and the movement on the screen was a little slow, but not terrible. If this had been a $500 machine I would have said it was pretty bad, but for $99.00 it is fine. That is the one thing I would tell anyone who buys a Ouya  to remember is that this console only cost you $99.00 and if you compare it to an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3 you will be highly disappointed. However if you remember that it is a $99.00 console I think you will have a lot of fun playing the games that are available on it. You may even find some independent games that you really like. Overall despite the few problems, so far I am happy I purchased the Ouya. If you are looking for a gaming console you can play on your TV and it will not break the bank, then the Ouya is worth a look.

Review of the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 5510L

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:19 AM on June 11, 2013

Verizon MiFi I have been thinking about getting a portable mobile hotspot for a while. There are two basic reasons I have been looking for one. The first is I occasionally have coffee at a local Starbuck kiosk in a Kroger near me and it does not have any Wi-Fi service. At those coffee shops that do have Wi-Fi service it is often slow or the service just stops working altogether for no apparent reason. The second reason is because of security. I have listen to enough Security Now and read enough about using public wi-fi to know it is not the most secure environment. Before you say it, I know I could simply use my phone as a hotspot and tether my device to it. I have done that before, but it quickly killed the phone’s battery and to be honest I rather have a device that is specifically made for this purpose.

There were a couple of things that I was looking for in the device itself, first obviously it needed to work in my area of West Virginia. This automatically removed any Tmobile devices or services such as FreedomPop neither which work in my area. The second thing I was looking for was something that didn’t require a contract. I am already dealing with enough contracts and didn’t want to deal with another two-year contract. I wanted something that I would pay for on a weekly or monthly basis.
I ended up picking up the Verizon Novatel Jetpack Mifi 5510.With the Verizon Novatel Jetpack MiFi you can buy plans by the week or by the month. A single week plan cost $15 for 250MB, 3GB for $60.00 a month and 10GB for $90.00 a month. The first thing you have to do is activate your device, which requires you to type in a 20 character number which is printed on the back of the sim card, which is the size of my thumb nail in light blue ink. The first time I called the numbers especially all the zeroes ran together so I ended up hanging up, writing the number down and then calling back. After that the activation went fine. When you do the activation make sure you have a way to write down the number they give you.

The Jetpack 5510e is rectangular in shape with rounded corner. It is made of hard plastic. Some people complain that it feels cheap. Personally I think it feels fine, but I don’t have anything else that I can compare it to. The back is easy to open and the battery is replaceable. Unlike some portable wi-fi devices the Jetpack Mifi 5510 has no microSD slot or external antenna port. There is an LED screen on the front and on the home screen you can see the battery life, notifications, signal strength and number of devices connected. You can also change screens to see the Wi-Fi name and password, software updates and more importantly data usage. You can change screens and make selections using the function keys on the device. These function keys can be a little finicky but not too bad once you get use to it. Once I activated and register my device I was able to connect and my iPad mini with no problem. I used it for about 30 minutes to test it and it was great.

There are a some problems with the Jet Pack 5510. First it is an US only device, so if you need something for overseas travel this is not the device for you. Second like I said before some people think that it feels cheap and the function keys are finicky. I read some of the comments on the Verizon site and some people were trying to use this as a replacement for their home or office network, that is not what this device is for , first it would be way too expensive and second it is not built to run 24/7. After using it twice now this week I have to say I am overall happy I purchased it and went without a contract.

Runaway Air-Fi Bluetooth Headset by Meelectronics Review

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 10:28 AM on May 10, 2013

HP-AF32-RB-MEE-1I picked up the Runaway Air-Fi AF32 Bluetooth Headsets from Meelectronics this week. They are a part of the Air-Fi series. I chose to get the black and red ones, they are black on the outside and have a red pad on the earpieces and at the top of the band. The band can be adjusted to fit your head.  They sit nicely on my ears. The controls which are on the side of the headphones include the button to connect to your Bluetooth device, the forward and reverse button and the volume button. Once I remembered where they were controlling them was easy. The headset also has a hidden headphone. I had no trouble connecting the headphones to any of my devices and including an iPad mini, a Mac Mini and a Galaxy Nexus. I used the headphone to disconnect a call and it worked well. Depending the capability of your phone you maybe able to use the headphones to make a voice call, this worked fine with my Galaxy Nexus .

How do they sound? First I have to say I am not an audiophile so your experience may differ. I thought they sounded good however like a lot of headphones of today the base is emphasized but that is something that I like. I did hear some crackling and hiss noise while I was listening to one song yesterday, however at the time I had walked downstairs away from the device and it was a song I had ripped at a lower bit level. The one thing I appreciate is that if you are having a problem with the Bluetooth connection there is an audio cable included that you can use to connect it to your device and use it as a wired device. According to the website the headphone audio play back will last up to twelve hours on a full charge and about ten hours of talk time. Unfortunately your device’s battery will drain much quicker than the headphone, so when you are not using it, make sure to turn it off along with the Bluetooth connection on your device. It takes about four hours to charge the headphones. They do fold up, however not as flat as I would like them to, they do however fit nicely in the supplied carrying bag.

Overall despite some hiccups I am happy I purchased the Runaway Bluetooth Headsets. They are available on the website and other online stores including Amazon from around $70.00 up to $99.00 depending on the color you choose. I was fortunate enough to get them for almost half price by getting them through the Lockergnome Deal Website. If you are looking for a decent pair of on ear stereo Bluetooth headphones I would take a look at the Meelectronic Runaway AF32 Headsets.

Microsoft to Buy Nook?

Posted by J Powers at 9:15 AM on May 9, 2013
Nook

Nook

Microsoft is looking at the Barnes & Noble Nook – and they are willing to pay $1 billion for them.

Barnes and Noble stock rose 16% as news flew about Microsoft wanting to purchase the Nook e-reader, tablet and e-book business. This, just days after an announcement that Nook was allowing users to download via Google Play. Barnes and Noble also considered spinning off the Nook to its own company.

According to a document obtained by TechCrunch, if Microsoft was to obtain Nook, the Android-based tablet would be discontinued and the e-reader would be phased out at a later time. The expectation would be to merge Nook e-reader into the Microsoft Windows 8 tablet.

Right now, 10 million Nook devices have been sold, with 7 million active subscribers.

HAPIfork Helps You Monitor Your Eating Habits

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:19 PM on April 20, 2013

HAPILABSHAPILABS has created a specialized fork that can help people to monitor their eating habits, and potentially lose weight as a result. It is called HAPIfork, and it has a Kickstarter that will gather funding until June 1, 2013.

Those who cannot wait to get their hands on the HAPIfork have the option of pledging $89.00 (or more) to the Kickstarter in order to get their very own “smart fork” for $10.00 off the regular price. HAPILABS will begin shipping those out in September of 2013.

The HAPIfork monitors and keeps track of your eating habits. It pays attention to “fork servings”, which is described as “every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth” (with the HAPIfork). It will note how long it took for you to eat your meal, the amount of “fork servings” you took per minute, and the interval of time between each “fork serving”.

The data is then uploaded via USB to your Online Dashboard, so you can track your progress. Each HAPIfork comes with the HAPILABS app and a coaching program that will help you improve your eating behavior. There is a HAPILABS mobile app for Android and Windows mobile that will keep track of health, fitness, sleep, relaxation, and physical activities. Data can be loaded to the app via Bluetooth.

Eat too quickly, and the HAPIfork will vibrate to let you know that you need to slow down. It is subtle, and I think most people would prefer that type of notification instead of a loud sound or a flashing light that would instantly attract the attention of everyone else in the room. When your meal is over, you can wash HAPIfork either in the sink or the dishwasher.

The primary concept is to encourage people to eat more slowly in order to avoid digestive problems, weight gain, and post-operative complications. This amusingly named “smart fork” sounds like an interesting device to use if you are hoping to lose some weight.

Review: Striker Magnetic Light Mine

Posted by Alan at 10:02 AM on March 12, 2013

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Despite not actually being in attendance at the Consumer Electronics Show, I was not immune to the fever as I covered the great videos being fed to the writing team here at GNC. One company in particular caught my attention — Striker was offering a couple of very cool little devices at even cooler prices. In short, writing about that interview ended up costing me a bit of money.

I purchased two different items, but I will get to the other one in a future review. Today I wanted to cover the Magnetic Light Mine — named such because of its resemblance to a World War II mine. The tiny protrusions each have a magnet, but they also provide stability that lets you rotate it and shine the light in virtually any direction, from a magnetic surface or just a tabletop or floor. It has a 360 radius.

The Magnetic Light Mine is about the size of a golfball, but has a high output, wide angle, intensely bright LED that does an adequate job of lighting up a workspace, especially handy for the underside of a car hood or the inside of an electrical panel door. Personally I purchased two and plan to use them mostly for my son and I’s camping trips, since they will take up almost no space in a backpack.

The light comes for only $6.99 from Striker, and there is a larger version that retails for around $20.

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Able Planet Gamer’s Choice

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 9:30 AM on March 1, 2013

able Able Planet winner of several awards over the years for their Linx Audio Technology showed off their new gaming headphones at CES 2013 the Gamers’ Choice. Linx Audio Technology enables you to hear frequencies you can’t hear normally or with other technology. It splits the signal in to three tone harmonics . This technology enhances sound quality and clarity, reduces distortion and because it is an analog technology it also reduces interference from other digital devices.

The new gaming headphone with the Linx Audio Technology comes in eight colors. It has an adjustable headphone strap. You can easily move the microphone to the position you want. It also has an inline volume control, The headphones come with several adapters so you can use them with portable gaming devices, laptops and an Xbox. One headphone for all your gaming needs. The adapter for the laptop is also a must for podcasters with older laptops it will turn your audio into 16 bits and reduce the hissing sound. For more information about these headphones, lynx technology and other Able Planet products visit the Able Planet website

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine, and Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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iOmount’s New iOstand

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 10:52 AM on February 28, 2013

iOmount iOmount introduced a system for mounting and displaying your device, either tablet or called the iStand. The iStand system consist of a disc that adheres to the device, the nub and a stand with a solid steel ball on top. The disk can either adhere directly to the device or to a cover. The nub, which goes between the device and the steel ball has two magnets in it one that adheres to the disk on the device and the other one adheres to the steel ball on the stand. These are rare earth magnets and they are available in different strengths depending on the size of the device you are going to be mounting to the stand. The use of magnets lets you to have your device at almost any angle you want it.

iOmount newest product is a travel stand which has a hollow ball making it lighter than the traditional desk stand which has a solid steel ball. The travel iOStand also comes with a clamp so you can clamp it directly on to an airline tray if you need to. iOmount is working on a way to bring power up through the stand.

The iOstand is $100.00 for the Black and White Powder coated and $120.00 for the stainless steel coated. You can purchase one at the iOmount website. iOmount also sells the iOmini for smartphones and the iOwall which allows you to mount your tablet to the wall.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine, and Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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