Category Archives: Gear

BenQ at 2016 CES

Todd CochraneBenQ Zowie interviews Ronald Kim from BenQ. They discuss BenQ’s new line of Zowie line of competitive gaming accessories. BenQ brings in professional gamers to help them validate their gaming accessory designs.

Ron shows three models (they offer a total of seven models) of gaming mice that are specifically designed to give the end user the best possible gaming performance. They include the ZA Series, the EC-A Series, and the FK Series mice. Top-level professional gamers still prefer wired mice over wireless mice for the best possible lag-free performance. BenQ Zowie mice offer the ultimate in adjustable precision.

The mice are all priced at $59.99 each and are available now. The BenQ Zowie mouse pads are priced from $25 to $45 dollars on Amazon.

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Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase Review

booq LogoOn review here is the Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase, a lightweight and high-spec laptop bag. Unlike some of the other Booq bags that I’ve reviewed here for GNC, it’s in the more traditional style for those circumstances where a rucksack looks a little bit too casual. Designed for laptops with screens up to 16″, it’s made with ballistic nylon complimented by lower leather trim, meaning it looks good but is durable too. As you’ll see from the pictures, the YKK zips are mostly on show in bright steel, though the main laptop compartment has a covered waterproof zip.

Booq Cobra Side

Booq Cobra with Laptop

Opening it up, the Cobra has plenty of room inside, with five main compartments for gear. Starting from one side…

  1. Booq Cobra InnerZipped pocket with Booq’s corporate copper-coloured inner, suitable for an A5 size notepad or tablet.
  2. Open pocket with soft jersey inner. Additional easy access pockets within suitable for purse, wallet, mobile phone, MP3 player or tablet. Useful when on the go but gear may fall out.
  3. Big zipped pocket with copper inner. Further internal pockets for A4 notepad and bigger devices, perhaps external hard drive, PSU or even lunchboxes. Couple of pen pockets and a keyring too. Handily, the zip on this goes at least three quarters of the way down the side of the Cobra, so it opens wide. Not sure you’d quite get a change of clothes in here but it’s close.
  4. Big hidden waterproof zipped pocket, with soft padded lining. The is obviously intended for the main device and it comfortably took a big Toshiba Satellite Pro.
  5. Simple open pocket with copper inner, big enough for a magazine or A4 notepad.

There’s padding and protection between the compartments, so gear is going to be looked after wherever it is.

Booq’s copper-coloured inner may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s much easier to find stuff in the depths of the pockets. To some extent the pictures don’t do the colour justice – it’s better in real life, as they say.

Booq Cobra CarryFor carriage, the Cobra’s well covered. To start with, there’s the two handles which are comfortable without being overly broad, and attach to the bag with seatbelt-style webbing. The handles fold back into the bag when not needed, keeping the bag neat. Then there’s an over-the-shoulder strap, made from similar webbing with a large shoulder pad and metal clasps at each end. And finally there’s a webbing loop that can be passed over the handle of a trolley suitcase to sit the Cobra on top.

Even better, the Cobra has a flat bottom, so the bag stays upright when put down (mostly!).

As with all Booq bags, the Cobra is tagged with a Terralinq serial number, which is Booq’s “lost and found” service, giving a much greater chance of being reunited with lost gear. Let’s hope you never need to use it.

At US$295, GB£210 or 295€, the Booq Cobra isn’t an impulse purchase so I imagine the briefcase will be protecting some high-end gear. The Cobra seems a quality product – well finished, no lose threads, metal fixtures – and it’s perfect for cossetting a MacBook Pro or gaming laptop while travelling. Available on-line (US, UK, Europe) and other good retailers.

Thanks to Booq for the review Cobra.

The Next Must-Have Gadget: Your Own Personal Flamethrower

XM42 logoIf you spend even a small amount of time on the Internet, you’ll see some things that are just downright confounding. That’s why it’s good to view most things online with a healthy dose of skepticism. When I first saw an article about the XM42 flamethrower I thought it must be a joke. The XM42 is being touted as the “world’s first commercially available flamethrower.” An idea that is sure to evoke either pure delight or sheer terror, depending on your perspective.

The XM42 was dreamed up by a small company called The Ion Production Team. This quaint group of pyro-loving geeks describe their brainchild as, “…the world’s first fully handheld, grab and go flamethrower on the market. No heavy pressurized tanks, no silly car-wash sprayers.” The Ion team then go on to say that the XM42 has, “…endless possibilities for entertainment and utility. Start your bonfire from across the yard, or kill the weeds between your cracks in style.” Of course! What could go wrong?

If you’re wondering about the legalities of flamethrower ownership, no worries. The FAQ on the XM42 website states:

There are generally no restrictions on flamethrower ownership in the United States. However, we are currently aware that California and Maryland have legislation regarding flamethrowers… In California, unlicensed possession of ‘any non-stationary and transportable device designed or intended to emit or propel a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid a distance of at least 10 feet’ H&W 12750 (a)—is a misdemeanor punishable with a county jail term not exceeding one year or with a fine not exceeding $10,000 (CA H&W 12761). Licenses to use flamethrowers are issued by the State Fire Marshal.’

Continue reading The Next Must-Have Gadget: Your Own Personal Flamethrower

OnePlus Partners with JBL for E1+ Earphones

OnePlus LogoOnePlus today announced a partnership with audio specialists JBL for exclusive earphones to complement the audio capabilities of the OnePlus One smartphone. The new JBL E1+ earbuds are bright red with flat tangle-resistant cable and comes with an in-line three button remote. The built-in microphone means that there’s no need to unplug when a call comes in, and it’s a standard 3.5mm jack on the end.

JBL E1+ Earphones


These earbuds look great and I love the knurled endcaps. I’m usually pretty understated with black Sennheisers but I could like these red E1+ earphones and I hope the audio is up-to-scratch too. It’s great to see all these moves in the audio space and it’s not just the iPhone that has all the fun, too.

Available in October for US $39.99 or GB £29.99 from the OnePlus Store. Video below ticks all the expected boxes.

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.

Smart Diabekit by Reunion

DiabekitDid you know that diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in US. and cost $174 Billion US dollars in health care cost. There are 25 million diabetics and 79 million pre diabetics in the US. People with diabetes have to estimate the amount of sugar they eat and monitor the level of glucose in their blood. This can mean carrying around a large kit and sticking yourself with a needle to draw blood. It is messy and painful. Many people will just try to estimate their sugar intake which can lead to life threatening situations. Runware the maker of the Runalyzer a heart rate monitor is coming out with an all in one solutions for the diabetics called the Smart Diabekit System. It has a smart glucometer for measuring blood sugar and  sensors that communicates with the included scale and an activity tracker. Now the diabetic can easily keep track  the food they are eating, how active they are and of their glucose level.

The Smart DiabelKit System will be available in September 2014 at the Runware website, price is not available at this time. If you are attending CES 2014 Runware a company based out of the The Reunion Island will be in the Venetian Ballroom Hall D, level 2 Booth 7269.

eflow will be showing off Electric Bikes at CES 2014


Electric bikes (eBikes) have been a growing trend in both Europe and Asia over the past couple of years. They are just beginning to find a market in the US. From July 2012 to July 2013 the number of units sold in the US more than doubled from 70,000 to 159,000 units. One of the main manufactures of electric bikes is eflow a Currie tech company. Eflow currently has three bikes models in their lineup; the original the 2×10 speed E3 Nitro with RST front suspension. The E3 Flight with 1×10 drivetrain for $3500 and finally the E3 Fit a 350 watt compact folding bike at $3500 MSRP. Eflow ebikes have the following items:

           * Lithium battery pack integrated into the seat tube 
           * internal cable routing
           * a quick release wheel
           * regenerative braking
           * water tight motor connector
           * 500-watt hub motor
           * four levels of pedal assist
           * throttle overdrive

The E3 Nitro won the Gold Award from the IFthe German design group at the 2012 Taipei Cycle Show. It is a great bike for city life. The controls are on an easy to read LCD console with multi-assist options. It has an adjustable front suspension aluminum frame. The E3 Nitro also has fat tires and heavy-duty wheels making it perfect for urban riding. Eflow will be at Show Stoppers @CES on Jan 7 between 6–10pm at booth A–30 to show off what is trending in eBikes.

Voice Bridge by Swissvoice

Voice BridgeDoes your business require a landline number but you want the convenience of a mobile phone, well Swissvoice may have a solution for you.  Swissvoice is showing off the Voice Bridge at CES 2014. SwissVoice’s Voice Bridge links traditional land line telephones and mobile device. It allows you to carry on a call that comes in on your landline phone on your mobile device both smartphones and tablets. Now you can tell who is calling you on your DECT-phone . You can use your mobile device as a walkie talk for communication within a building at no additional cost. Employees can be added to conference calls by simply tapping on the app on their mobile device

The Voice Box is a small box like device which connects directly to any router and has an easy plug and play installation. Then you install the app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device and you are ready to go. You can assign a fixed line to up to five smart phones and tablet at one time. Perfect for a small office, allowing multiple employees to use one landline number, while having the convenience of using their mobile phone.

The Voice Bridge will be available in the U.S, South America and Europe during March or April 2014 for $79 USD or 79 euro. Swissvoice will be at Booth 31417 in the South Hall during CES 2014.

WakaWaka Makes it CES Debut

WakaWaka WakaWaka, which means shine bright in Swahili is a company that is built around providing power and light in areas and situations where electricity is not readily available. Their products including the WakaWaka Light and the WakaWaka Power have been used around the world in both natural and man-made disasters in places as diverse as the Philippines and Syria. In areas where electricity is not readily available many people will use Kerosene lamps which are costly, inefficient and dangerous. The WakaWaka Light which is solar-powered can replace the kerosene lamp and provide a safer and more efficient light. The WakaWaka solar power charger will charge up a smart phone within 2 hours while still providing light. Perfect for power outages when your phone is your main communication device with the outside world.

WakaWaka is meeting its mission by selling the WakaWaka Light and the WakaWaka Power at competitive prices in the first world and taking those proceeds to sell the products at an affordable price in areas around the world that are off the grid. WakaWaka is making its CES debut in 2014 in the Venetian Ballroom at booth 70306. Camille van Gestel, the Founder & CEO of WakaWaka, will be attending Unveiled and International CES to present the WakaWaka portfolio, including several exciting new products. He will be available for interviews from January 5 – January 11.

iDevices Release Two New Devices in time for CES 2014

iDevice iDevices is releasing two new devices in time for CES 2014, the iGrill2 Bluetooth® Smart Meat Thermometer and the iLP® BluetoothSmart Liquid Propane Monitor. These are app connected products and if you grill often they will make your job easier and more enjoyable.  Right now they work with iOs only, but an Android version is in the works.

The iGrill2 allows you to monitor the temperature of your food on the grill from up to 150 feet away with the free iDevices Connected App. The devices have a bright LED display with a proximity wake-up, magnetic mounting, four probe ports and 150-hour battery life. It is more rugged than the original iGrill. The magnetic backing allows you to mount it anywhere you want on the grill. If you want to mount it on a non-magnetic surface there is an optional magnetic disc. Due to the bluetooth capability there is no need for manual paring and the connection is more stable. You can track four different temperatures with a multiple probe monitor. You can check the temperature quickly and easily with the bright LED display. It has 150 hours of battery life on just 2 AA batteries. The iGrill2 will be priced at $99.99 and be available through the iDevice website

If you use a propane tank for your grill you know the feeling when you run out of propane in the middle of grilling. Admit it we have all done it at least once, well the iLP® Bluetooth Smart Liquid Propane Monitor can help to prevent this from happening. The device mounts to the bottom of any propane tank and can be used over and over again. It will automatically tell you when the propane is getting low. It uses patented technology using ultra-sonic sensors to get the most accurate reading. You can track it from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using the 30 Ft. Bluetooth range. You can use one app to track multiple devices. The battery has 2 years of use in it. The pricing for the iLP will be released in 2014.

IDevices will be showing off the iGrill2, the iLp and other new products at CES 2014 at Booth #355866 in the Upper South Hall. They will be also having a press session by invite only on Monday, January 6 at 11:30 AM at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center.