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.

Sonivo Easy Speaker-SBS-120 Review

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 1:43 PM on August 26, 2013

Sonivo Easy Speaker-SBS-120 Sonivo Easy Speaker-SBS–120 use Near Field Audio (NFA) to produce its sound.  No wires, no bluetooth or wi-fi required. The speaker is small with dimension of 5“ by 2.75” by 2″ approximately and it is available in black and white. You are also supplied with a USB mini cable for charging the device and a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable to be used with devices that do not have external speakers.

To use the Sonivo Easy Speaker-SBS–120 you simply turn the speaker on by the small switch on the side. Then you start the music on your device and lay the device on top of the Sonivo . There are two speaker icons on the top of the Sonivo Easy Speakers-SBS–120, to get the best sound you want to line up where the sound is coming out of your device with the two speaker icons. I tested it using my Samsung Galaxy Nexus and found that if I set the phone right in the middle of the speaker it didn’t pick up the sound, however if I moved the phone over so that the speaker icon on the Sonivo Easy Speaker lined up with the place where the sound comes out on the Galaxy Nexus it worked great. With the HTC One I simply laid it down on the Sonivo Easy Speaker and it worked. The one problem I did run into with the HTC One is that at one point I kept on hearing a buzzing noise and the audio was distorted. I solved the problem by moving the device back a bit and turning the volume down.

Once I figured out where to set my devices on the Sonivo Easy Speaker, I started to enjoy it. It did increase the volume of the device quite a bit. Not surprisingly there is no bass, but the treble is quite good. If you are looking for a small portable speaker that you can easily carry with you when you travel then you might want to take a look at the Sonivo Easy Speaker-SBS–120. The Sonivo Easy Speaker-SBS–120 is normally available at MobileFun for $25.49 however at this time they appear to be sold out. If you provide your email they will notify you when one is available.

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.

Sony NEX F3 Camera Review

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 11:55 AM on June 13, 2013

Sony NEX-F3 I purchased the Sony NEX-F3K/B camera through Amazon recently and have been using it for a couple of weeks now. The camera comes with a removable 18–55 F3.5–5.6 OSS Zoom lens kit, a battery along with a charging cable, charger and a camera strap. The Sony NEX-F3 is a mirrorless camera with an exchangeable lens. It is small and without the lens it can easily fit into a purse or even a large pocket.

It is easy to hold with a grip on the right hand side. When you hold the camera by the grip you can easily reach the trigger with your first finger. The viewing screen is about 3 inches across and 2 1/2 inches high. It can be tilted up to 180 degrees, making it perfect for taking self portraits. There are two buttons and one wheel to change the controls on the camera to the right of the viewing screen. The top button is the menu button which allows you to make changes to how the camera will work, you can decided whether to use automatic or manual mode, control the aperture, flash, track objects, use face detection, do initial setup and much more. The bottom button seems to let you go in and out of digital Zoom mode. The wheel lets you move through the choices that are available on the screen. I have to admit that there are a lot of controls and possibilities, many which I will probably never use such as a toy filter. I think that sometimes companies try to please everyone and end up just making things confusing. It has a sensor resolution up to 16.2 megapixels. The camera can also be used to record video with a resolution up to 1920 X 1080. On the top of the camera is the built-in flash, next to that is the play button which allows you to play through the pictures you’ve taken. Next to the play button is the record button. I did find how the record button work a little confusing. When you hit it, there is a slight beep and then the recording starts, when you hit the button again the word Recording pops up and the recording stops. I found that very confusing at first I kept on thinking I was recording when I was not and vice a versa. In front of the record button is the power switch. On the left hand side of the camera is the USB dock. The cover for the USB dock feels a little flimsy to me and I can easily see it getting broken over time. There are clips on both sides to connect a camera strap to. As I said before a strap does come with the camera, but I found that strap fairly flimsy and ended up buying a more substantial one. On the bottom of the camera is a tripod connection point. Next to that is the covered slot for an SD card. Right next to that is the battery compartment. The battery is removable and can be replaced. This is not an internet connected camera, so if that is something you are looking for this camera is not for you.  You can find a full review  of the camera specs. at Digital Photography Review

Overall I am very happy with this camera. The camera feels good in my hand, the grip makes it easy to hold on to while you take a picture.  I have included some pictures I took with it just to show some examples. I do this strictly as a hobby but I hope these pictures show the camera off at its best. The camera is available through Amazon for $499.00, I actually purchased it through the Amazon Warehouse for $378.17. If you are not ready for a DSLR but are looking for a camera that has a removable lens and that is above a point and shoot, than I recommend taking a look at the Sony NEX F3.

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.

Blackmagic Design Ramps Up Their Production Hardware and Software

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 9:42 AM on April 11, 2013

Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Design has not only been busy this year making excellent cameras but also updating their production hardware and software. Among the updates were the DaVinci Resolve 10. It now has a new tool set for sound sync. Resolve Live offers many new features including grading live from the camera. You can add as many nodes and color corrections as you like. The DaVinci Resolve allows the user to do multitrack editing with up to 16 channels of audio per clip and unlimited video and audio tacks in the timeline. It also allows the user to edit 3D projects with support for left and right eye clips. The color correction has also been upgraded. The DaVince upgrade will be available to all DaVince customers in Q3.

Blackmagic is also introducing the ATEM Production Studio 4K. This is the world’s first Ultra HD production switcher. It operates natively in Ultra HD, HD or SD. It has a total of 8 inputs, 4 6G-SDI and 4 HDMI. There are a multiple number of features that all work with Ultra HD. The switcher can monitor up to 8 sources. The user can work in Ultra HD and then down convert to a regular HD programming feed. You can do live aux switching directly from the front panel. There is an LCD for monitor the aux output.

The Blackmagic MultiDock is a solution for managing and editing media from HyperDeck disk recorders and cameras. A rack has 4 independent 2.5 inch disk docking slots. You can mount both regular hard disk and SSDS. It has its own built in power supple and a single thunderbolt connection to the computer. It has an independent SATA chip per slot for maximum speed. Disks can be stripped together for a disk array. It will be available in May for $595.

Blackmagic Design is also introducing the DeckLink Mini Recorder and DeckLink Mini Monitor. This is the PCIe plug in cards version of the UltraStudio Mini Recorder and UltraStudio Mini Monitor. It can fit into regular PCIe slots and is perfect for the PCIe slots found in rack mounts. It supports the same software for Windows, Mac and Linux that the regular DeckLink models do. It will be available in mid April for $145.00.

Blackmagic not only produces great video monitoring products but also excels in audio monitoring with the Blackmagic Audio Monitor. It is attractive with all the features that a professional needs. It has a SDI input, an LCD screen and a HDMI monitoring output built in. The SDI input can handle Ultra HD as standard. It is designed using machined metal,even the speaker grills so it not only works great but looks great. The level meters are customizable and the volume knob is contact-less so it will never wear out. It will be available in a few weeks for $1,495.

BlackMagic is also releasing a new model of their ATEM Studio Converter. It is also machine metal design. It had its own built in power supply. There are analog connections in the rear panel. It also works with the new 6G-SDI technology. There are controls on the front panel o operating the talk back. The director can talk directly to the camera operator without using headphones. There is a mic and speaker input built directly into the front panel. The ATEM Studio Converter will be available in May for $1,995.

As is expected, BlackMagic Design continues to produce quality hardware and software products for the professional in the field of audio and video at reasonable prices.

New Tek Lowers the Price of the TriCaster 450: Are They feeling the Heat

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:01 AM on April 8, 2013

NewTekNewTek has lowered the price for the TriCaster 455 by $6000, it is now $9995. The TriCaster 455 is described as “the affordable, integrated solution to produce your 4-camera, 14-channel, HD live show with maximum creative firepower—but with minimal proportions.”-(NewTek) Within the podcasting community the TriCaster was made famous when it was first used by Leo Laporte and TWIT. For the longest time if you were a podcaster and wanted to do your shows live, the TriCaster was the way to go. Now though there is a new player in the field, LiveStream which offers the LiveStream Broadcaster, and the Studio Family of Products. The Livestream Studio™ HD50 is $6,999 and the Livestream Studio™ HD500 is $8,500. Both which offer similar options that the TriCaster offers for a much lower prices.

If NewTek the maker of the TriCaster is feeling the pressure than this is good for the live video podcasting community. True competition is always good, it leads to lower prices and better products. If this means a new TriCaster is on the way, well that is even better, either way it is good news.  The TriCaster 455 is an excellent product and this offer is only good until June 27, 2013.  If you are thinking of buying a TriCaster this is the time.

Yurbuds Ironman Series Earphones

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:58 PM on March 18, 2013

Yurbuds Spring is coming, which means a lot of walking outside. I like to listen to music or podcasts when I am walking. The problem I have is my ears get sweaty and when they do I have trouble keeping most earphones in. I could wear over the ear headphones, but then I can’t hear what is happening around me and since I have to walk on the side of the road that could be dangerous. When I try to wear most ear buds they are constantly falling out as I am walking. Which means I am continually trying to stick them back in or they end up dangling down in front of me and I can’t hear the music. Either way it is very frustrating. I wanted to try to find a solution for this problem before the spring weather comes into full swing and I think I have.

Yurbuds slogan is “Developed by Athletes for Athlete” and according to the box they are guaranteed to never fall out. They come in a small box and inside the box are the headphones , a small carrying case and a card with instruction on them. The earphones are kidney-shaped and fit snugly inside the ear and then “lock in”. The hardest part is getting them in right, which is key to them not falling out. Once they are in they stay in. I wore them walking on the first warm day of spring and although I was sweating they didn’t fall out. The true test though will come in the summer when it is humid and its 80 degrees, while I am walking. My other complaint is the fact that the cords do get tangled up if you just throw them in your pocket.

The earphone are made of a soft silicon and they feel very comfortable in my ear. The audio sounds fine. I was listening to a workout music playlist from Songza and the bass beat was good, not great but good. The upper and middle tones sound fine. If you keep the volume down to a reasonable level you can hear what is going on around you, which I appreciate. Overall I am happy at this point that I purchased Yurbuds Ironman Series.