Voltz Electric Bikes at The Gadget Show

Personal electric vehicles were very much in evidence at The Gadget Show with bicycles, scooters and skateboards all on show from different vendors. Voltz Bikes covered two of these categories; bicycles and scooters.

First up is the Voltz eTrail, an electric mountain bike which was recently road-tested on The Gadget Show itself. With a range of up to 50 miles, the 1.9 kW motor can give some serious “oompf”, technically speaking. Looking over the bike, the attention to detail and component quality is impressive, which is not entirely unsurprising given that it costs around GBP £8,500, which is not cheap.

Voltz eTrail

Next is the brand new eScoot is a electric scooter with a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 20 mph. A range of accessories will be available including the neat trailer shown in the photo below. Also not cheap at £2000 but I could see myself buying one of these or similar – my job requires me to travel between sites that are usually no more than a few miles apart and a vehicle like this would be ideal for those journeys. No worries about parking either! Both the eTrail and eScoot are made in Britain which is great to see in these economic times.

Voltz Bikes Scooter

Dan, who helps make “awesome fun products”, reviews Voltz range with me at The Gadget Show.

Ford Electric Concept Car

Ford LogoTodd takes a look at Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi concept car, which amongst other things, features a solar panel roof that uses a special light concentrator lens similar to a magnifying glass to improve the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells. Ford reckons that a day’s worth of sunshine is enough to charge the hybrid’s battery, which is good for 21 electric-only miles.

This is good news for the environment as it would reduce yearly carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions from the average US car by as much as four metric tons – the equivalent of what a American house produces in four months. This probably assumes a perfect sunshine record and maximum electric mileage each day, but, hey, every little bit helps.

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

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Xi3 Low Power PCs

Xi3 Corporation LogoDavid shows off Xi3‘s latest developments including the X7A modular computer and the Z3RO Pro. If you haven’t seen Xi3’s offerings before, you need to check them out – they’re small cube-like units totally unlike your normal case.

The X7A is aimed at the power user with a quad core AMD Trinity processor, Radeon graphics, 8 GB RAM, SSD (up to 1 TB) and more ports than you can shake a stick at. The modular part means that in future you’ll be able to upgrade components without replacing the whole unit. Prices start at $1099.

The Z3RO Pro is more budget friendly, starting at $549. With only a dual core processor and 4 GB RAM, it’s more suited to general office activities, but it will run two monitors. The killer feature here is that it consumes only 15W of power.

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

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Switch Lighting LED Lamps

Switch Lighting Co.LED lamps are undoubtedly one of the most energy efficient ways of producing light, but even then the conversion from household AC to low voltage DC creates extra heat that needs to be dissipated. Switch Lighting Co have developed a technique that not only keeps the lamps cool but provides are more natural diffuse light. Todd and Don are illuminated by Gary Rosenfield from Switch Lighting.

Switch’s Infinia lamps are filled with a liquid silicone solution that distributes waste heat throughout the bulb, letting heat leave from a larger surface area. The warm white (2700 K) light is diffused over 300 degrees as well and the lamps can directly replace traditional 40W and 60W bulbs with equivalent Infinia bulbs of only 10W and 6W. The lamps are on-sale now with the 60W bulb available for around US$15 from good retailers nationwide.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Gigabit Powerline from Trendnet at CES

TRENDnet LogoNetworking over electrical power lines has come a long way since the first HomePlug specification back in 2008 which was was rated at 14 Mb/s. Today network specialists Trendnet have announced a gigabit class, Powerline 1000, with the launch of the TPL-420E2K adaptors.

Trendnet Powerline 1000Based on the HomePlug AV2 standard and using MIMO techniques originally used in wireless data transmission, Powerline 1000 doubles the speed of the previous implementation.

Zak Wood, director of global marketing of Trendnet said, “Trendnet’s TPL-420E2K is designed to easily handle multi-HD streams in a busy connected home.

For the first time, Powerline products use all three electrical wires: the live, neutral, and ground (earth) wires. MIMO technology sends information over the fastest two out of the three available electrical wires. If a user lives in an old home which is not cabled with ground wires, the maximum throughput is reduced from 1,000 to 600 Mb/s.

The TPL-420E2K connects over electrical lines for distances of up to 300 m (a little less than 1000 ft), which is roughly the size of 5,000 square foot home. Powerline 1000 is compatible with existing Powerline 500, 200 and HomePlug AV rated products but when connected to a lower speed adapter, speeds are reduced to the lower rated adapter.

As you’d expected, the communication between the adapters is encrypted and to reduce energy consumption, the TPL-420E2K units go into standby mode when not in use.

The MSRP is US$169 but the Powerline 1000 units are not expected until June 2014. I’m looking forward to testing these already, especially if Trendnet produces an adaptor which incorporates a fast wireless access point.

Device Renewal Forum Certifies Phone Reuse

Device Renewal Forum

With over 2 billion wireless devices (mobile phones) produced every year, the recycling and reuse of these gadgets is an important environmental issue. Todd chats to Perry LaForge of the Device Renewal Forum about how many major companies are now approaching the issue.

The DRF’s mission is “to expand the growth of the device renewal market through the development of a common and branded certification process for renewed wireless devices”, which means that for consumers, a DRF-certified device will have been properly processed, removing any traces of the previous owners data, and confirms that the phone meets the technical requirements for use on a mobile network. Several major companies, such as Sprint, are joining the scheme and for the sake of the planet, let’s hope the DRF is a success.

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

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EnerGenie Saving Money and Energy

Power EnerGenie makes products that helps you keep track of how much electricity you are using in your home and ways to control that usage. The basic product is a socket that plugs into the wall. You can then control any device that is plugged into it by your iPad or iPhone; turning the device on or off, setting a timer for either reoccurring or single phase. It can measures how much electricity is being used by individual devices. You can use it to do a cost relationship analysis. You can also compare how much is being used in the daytime and nighttime.

They also sell a Power Management System which you can set up either via USB or wirelessly. You can program it so each plug turns off and on different times. You can also group plugs together, so for example when you turn on your TV, your blu-ray player would come on. They are also going to be selling a portable charger which handles up to 40,000 mAh. The charger will be available at the end of Q2 for $250.00. The socket and power management systems are $50.00 and $150 respectively and are available now through Amazon and the Energenie website.

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

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Biodegradable Server Chassis

No matter how much we would like them to, the truth is that servers do not last forever. They last for a few years, and then it is time to replace them with a newer one. What do you do with the old one? Many people recycle them. This is better than throwing them into the trash, but recycling still uses energy and creates waste.

There could be a better solution. Perdue’s College of Technology has a new entrepreneurship program called Tech Ventures. It has teamed up with Open Compute, which was founded by Facebook. They have created an interesting competition. Teams of up to three students can register to enter a challenge to make a server chassis that is biodegradable.

Ultimately, the hope is that the winning design for a biodegradable server chassis will result the creation of more computer parts that can be composted instead of recycled. Imagine being able to put your old computer into your compost bin where it will break down naturally! This concept, of course, has a very long way to go before it can become reality. The first step towards a greener type of server chassis is through the Open Compute Challenge.

Each team that competes in this challenge will get a server to use. The team that creates the winning design will get a trip to attend the Open Compute Summit where they will be able to present the winning design to information technology industry leaders. Perdue will help the winning team to create a prototype of their design for a biodegradable server chassis.

Image: Stock Vector Images by BigStock

Powered Bodyboard

Design Icon out of Kowloon, Hong Kong, has created this great concept for a powered bodyboard. Driven by three electrically-powered propellers, the board’s deck has embedded solar cells to extend the battery life, while adjustable buoyancy lets the board both ride the waves and go completely submerged. I want one.

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Deck

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Snorkeller

All images courtesy of Design Icon.

 

IDAPT i1 Eco Universal Charger Review

The Idapt i1 Eco is the portable member of Idapt’s family of universal chargers: by using the same interchangeable tips as the dual and triple versions, the usefulness of the system is extended from the home to the car and travel.

Idapt i1 Eco Universal Charger

If you aren’t familiar with Idapt, their system offers a wide selection of charging tips that are snapped into a charging station which has anything from one (i1 Eco) to three (i4) changeable charging points. The benefit is that the charging station can be uniquely customised to your mobile device usage. For example, your phone might have a micro-USB connector, your iPod has an Apple connector and your Nintendo DSi has its own connector. By using the relevant tips, all three devices can be charged at once. Geek News Central reviewed the Idapt i4 earlier in the year.

Within this context, let’s take a look at the i1 Eco. Out of the box, you get a the i1 unit itself, a mains power connector, a USB power connector, a car USB adaptor and three charging tips – mini-USB, micro-USB and Apple.

Idapt Charging Tips

The main unit takes only one of these at a time, but there’s an additional full-size USB port on the side, so two devices can be charged simultaneously.

The i1 Eco can be powered either from the mains or from a USB power source: the cables interchange at the lime green coloured multi-connector. As you can see from the picture below, these are standard connector types, namely micro-USB and IEC “shotgun”.

The power transformer is incorporated into the body of the Eco 1 so there’s no “wall wart”, only an ordinary plug on the end of the cable. The advantage of this will become clear shortly and when buying the i1 Eco, UK, USA or Euro mains plugs can be specified.

Power cable

At the other end of the Eco 1 is the socket for the charging tips. These pop in and out and are exactly the same as the ones used in the tabletop models, which is handy if you have invested in a range of tips.

Tip Socket Tip Inserted

The USB socket on the side is used to charge a second device via a cable, which is best used for tablets or other larger devices which can be unwieldy to connect on the end of the i1 Eco.

i1 Side Shot

As might be guessed from the name, it’s intended to be a green charger. The packaging is all recycled cardboard and the body of the i1 Eco is made from recycled plastic. Even more unusual is the presence of a power button on the side of the i1 Eco, which is there to help save energy.

Most consumer electronics chargers don’t have an on-off switch and most gang extension sockets don’t have on-off switches either, which means that to fully turn off a charger, it has to be pulled out of the socket, which is pretty inconvenient and most of us don’t bother. The chargers continue to consume power even when there’s no device being charged and this power is completely wasted.

The i1 Eco eliminates this problem by having an on-off switch and by automatically powering off when the recharging gadgets are fully charged. This is a great feature and as a result, no power is wasted when gadgets are connected but fully charged and the Eco 1 can be safely plugged in all the time.

Overall, it’s all very clever, useful and green to boot!

Are there any downsides? There are a couple but nothing too serious. First of all, the USB car adaptor that goes in the cigarette lighter socket is a bit flimsy and lets the overall package down. For comparison, the Griffin PowerJolt is a far better adaptor.

Secondly, the auto-power off feature is sometimes a bit over-enthusiastic. On occasion I’d connect up my tablet (Motorola Xoom 2 ME) to charge and I’d come back later to find that the i1 Eco had switched off while the tablet was still only part charged. Other times it worked perfectly with the tablet and I had no problems with other devices (Bluetooth headset, mp3 player, ereader). To be fair, the included literature does mention that some smartphones can be incompatible with this feature so I guess this includes tablets too.

Update: Idapt contacted me to say that with troublesome devices, simply hold the on-off button down for about a second when turning the charger on and this reduces the auto-off sensitivity. I carried out some further testing of the i1 Eco with the tablet and can confirm that this solution works so problem solved. Thanks, Idapt.

The i1 Eco is a clever and flexible portable charging solution that will particularly appeal to those who have already bought into the Idapt way and have a full set of charging tips.

The i1 Eco is available from Idapt for £19.99 and extra tips are mostly £5.95.

Thanks to Idapt for providing the i1 Eco for review.