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


MonoPrice LED Light Bulb Review

Posted by geeknews at 8:02 PM on August 30, 2014

led1Recently I placed an cable order at MonoPrice.com, and in the order I added 5 of their LED Light Bulbs on a whim. Last time I checked online LED Light Bulbs where pushing $100.00 a piece at other vendors. I was quite shocked to find them for about $6.00 at MonoPrice.

If you are one of the people that hate the light given off from CFL bulbs, you are going to want to buy a couple of these and give them a try. I replaced my bedroom reading lamps current CFL bulb with one of the  A19 2900k Warm / Soft LED Light Bulbs from MonoPrice.

I am not sure how you get excited about a light bulb but I did,  and when that long lost familiar warm / soft glow emanated from the bulb I could not be happier. The folks at MonoPrice have a wide range of LED Bulbs.  Be careful in the ones you order they are broken down by (Warm / Soft 2900k), (Warm Netural 4000k),  (Daylight 6000k) in various wattages.

I am sure you know this already, but their is no other place on the planet to order cables than MonoPrice.com they have absolute the best prices and high quality.

led2

SweetBeatLife App with HealthPatch Review

Posted by geeknews at 6:26 PM on August 30, 2014

sweet1Over the past 18 months I have been fascinated with the rapid explosion of health based app and devices. In the recent past I have been reviewing and testing a number of devices this week was no exception. For the past week I have been testing the SweetBeatLife App on my iPhone while wearing a HealthPatch monitor attached to my chest.

Let me start out by saying this was probably the coolest thing I have reviewed in a while. Not only were people I showed this to intrigued, I was able to get insights into my own health and stress levels.  Lets first talk about the HealhPatch. I received two HealthPatch’s as part of my review kit. As seen in the picture the HealthPatch is like a big Band Aid with sensors and electronics. inside. Once activated, the HealthPatch is paired via Bluetooth to communicate with your phone. There are simple instructions on how to attach the HealthPatch to one of three locations on your chest.

I opted to place mine in the upper portion of my left chest. For the fellows you will have to shave a section of your chest as the HealthPatch requires a smooth surface to adhere to,  so that the two probes on the skin side of the patch can make contact with your bare skin.  The instruction book says the patch should stay on for 3 days. Mine started to peel at about day 5 and I was using the Active lifestyle patch with max adhesion.

sweet2I was not particularly careful with my HealthPatch when I was in the shower, I let the water blast on it and at the same time I did not take care to shield it from soap. The HealthPatch folks were pretty slick in how they designed it to keep the electronics dry.

Once stuck to my chest the SeetBeatLife app took over.  I had to record a baseline, and I did that laying down in my living room and following the apps instructions. From then on all I had to do is turn the App on if I wanted to measure my Stress Level, Heart Rate Recovery & HRV for Training. I used the Monitor Stress the most, and tested Heart Rate Recovery several times after 20 minutes on the treadmill.  The App and monitor do much more though. You can measure with hospital-grade accuracy, your heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, calories burned, stress, steps taken and other health indicators twenty-four hours a day.

sweet3In all honesty, there where some measurements that this device made that I had to go Google to figure out. I had no clue what some of the results meant, and if the measurement was good or bad. I am not sure this app is ready for everyday regular consumer usage. But for athletes that are training for competitions, I can see where the monitoring this app can provide would be very valuable in preparing for an event.

I encourage you to preview all of the information screens that the SweetBeatLife App provides to get a handle on the incredible data sets that this app can provide. I would think that health professionals would love to have this as an inexpensive way to monitor a patients health, that he or she was concerned about without ordering a full heart study.. We have all known folks that have had to wear a heart monitor for a couple of weeks and the bulkiness of carrying around the monitoring device.

The cost of SweetBeatLife app itself is $9.99. The starter HealthPatch kit is $199 which includes 5 HealthPatch’s. Refills are $99.00 for 5 more HealthPatch’s. Due to the ongoing cost, I feel this as well will limit consumer adaption. But for the athlete that is training for an upcoming event, the risk of over training is very real and this app and monitoring system will likely be very useful. The benefits compared to other system is pretty simple once you stick the patch on your good to go, and there is nothing bulky attached to you.

I will have to admit though it was pretty cool to watch my heart beat on the app screen and compare my respiration rates to national averages and the host of other readings. The only final concern I have with any of these health apps is with Privacy. You are storing very private health information in the cloud, and largely with a unknown third party. There are currently no laws on the books to prevent the resale of collected information.

Disclaimer: SweetBeat and MySweetBeat are not medical devices or medical applications. SweetWater Health, L.L.C. does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Disclaimer: Geek News Central review of this device does not constitute a substitute for proper medical care, and anyone experiencing any health concern should seek the treatment of a licensed doctor. Information provided in this review is meant to be informational only, and not an endorsement of the device accuracy or health benefit.

 

Sprint Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport Review

Posted by geeknews at 4:36 PM on August 30, 2014

sprintDuring the past 3 weeks I have been using a Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport from Sprint. The Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport is an exclusive Sprint Spark-enabled smart phone. The Sport brand is obviously focused for health conscious users. It has all of the standard benefits of the S5 along with Sprint Fit Live.

This phone design has a custom finish that feels more rugged, and has a textured feel very different than the standard Galaxy S5.  Comments from current S5 owners told me that they wish their S5 had the same finish texture. The change in finish was made to make the phone easier to hold, and prevent it from slipping out of your hand. The Galaxy S5 Sport is also IP67 water and dust resistant2 so it can be as active as its user. The textured body also had three hard keys for easier navigation. I honestly liked this slight deviation in design. There was no need to look at the phone when handling it, as you could feel the home and backup button without looking at it.

With Sprint Spark technology the phone is designed to take advantage of advanced network capabilities in certain markets that deliver peak wireless speeds of up to 60Mbps.

The phones major difference is that it came with an complete health and fitness package, under the “Sprint Fit Live” a brand which included bundled fitness applications in a easy to access menu.

Key Features of Sprint Fit Live included the following:

  • Track, monitor, and share workout activity with 12 months of free MapMyFitness MVP
  • Spotify Premium 3 or 6 month subscription included.
  • S Health, an integrated mobile health platform to access health info, map out workouts, and make healthier eating choices.
  • A barometer, compass, flashlight and stopwatch from a single screen
  • Heartbeat Monitor, Pedometer and Exercise Monitor and goal setting.

Most of the health and exercise information is integrated on the front screen or placed on the wall paper of the phone, so that I could just glance at the phone to get the updated info. The phone was running Android 4.4.2 KitKat when I reviewed it

The included MapMyFitness service uses GPS to track all fitness activities, and records work out details, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned and route traveled on an interactive map. It was neat to review a days workout and check performance.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a great mobile phone all on its own. Those that are health conscious, or wanting to take advantage of the customization Sprint has done with the “Sprint Fit Live” platform should give the Sport a look.

Sprint Fit Live also will be available on all new Sprint Android-powered smart phones in 2014 which will give you more shopping options.

Tens Sunglasses Review

Posted by Andrew at 5:10 PM on August 24, 2014

Tens LogoThis summer I’ve been feeling uber-cool with my Tens “Real Life Photo Filter” sunglasses. In a classic style, the Tens sunglasses are tinted to give a “an extra burst of colour to your summer” and that they do, with everything coloured that little bit brighter. Everything’s richer and more vivid – I love them.

Originally, an Indiegogo campaign, I took a chance on these shades, partly because I needed new sunglasses but partly because it was good to see a campaign from the British side of the Atlantic. The team’s actually based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Overall, I’ve been very pleased with the Tens sunglasses. The frames seem solid, with sturdy hinges and the lenses are clear and distortion free. I find them comfortable to wear too. Here are some photos to show you what they’re like.

Tens Sunglasses

Tens Sunglasses Hinge

The Tens sunglasses come with a neat little drawstring bag to keep them free from scratches when not in use.

Tens Sunglasses Bag

I was lucky enough to get in on the Indigogo campaign and paid only GB£44. Available in a choice of four frame colours (black, navy, deep red and teal), if you want your own pair of Tens glasses, they’ll currently set you back £64. I’ll probably buy a second pair once they start doing prescription versions.

Fingers crossed for a few more days of sunshine before summer comes to an end!

SDI to HDMI Under $100 from MonoPrice.com

Posted by geeknews at 5:16 PM on August 23, 2014

monopriceI have long been a fan of MonoPrice.com for a long time, their cable prices are simply incredible. If you buy from anyone else you’re flushing money down the toilet. I recently picked up several new products from MonoPrice one ofthe was a SDI to HDMI Converter/

Unless you’re a Pro-Video person you are not even going to know what SDI is, but lets keep it simple.  SDI is a Video format that is outputted on high end video cameras, and video processing gear. The studio here at Geek News Central has about 10 converters of various types HDMI to SDI (most popular), SDI to HDMI and SDI Splitters..

The sub $100.00 SDI to HDMI converter from MonoPrice  was ver inexpensive. I other similar converters in the studio that cost me upwards of $400.00 each.  Long story short, I plugged it in, hooked it up, and bam works like a charm. So I want to send kudos over to MonoPrice for literally kicking the butts of the major pro players.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that they introduce an HDMI to SDI converter as well and start building switches. When I can buy 3-4 devices for the price of one.. Well you know where I am going to be spending my money.

StarTech HDMI Wireless Extender over WHDI – Review

Posted by geeknews at 4:55 PM on August 23, 2014

In my Studio I have been looking at ways to place a High Definition TV in a location that has power but nearly impossible to run a cable. The folks at StarTech.com sent over a HDMI Wireless Extender using WHDI  in the 5.1 to 5.9mhz. This HDMI extender is capable of extending a HDMI signal  strait line of up to 50 ft.

startech1

Here is how I employed it. I have Mac Mini that I used to monitor the social media stream while we are live on the air. I have always had trouble looking at the monitor it is attached to. So I used a 1×2 HDMI distribution amplifier and hooked one output to the monitor, and the other output to the StarTech  HDMI transmitter. The HDMI Transmitter is very tiny maybe 1 inch by 3 inches and comes with a 90 degree adapter if needed.

I then hooked the receiver up to a flat screen TV in the back of my studio so that I can observer without looking away from my primary camera. This all took about 15 minutes to hook up..  I am here to tell you running that cable 20 feet would have sucked, and my wife would have been pissed as the studio would have had a cable running across the wall.

The best part is that the receiver can support additional transmitters so all I need to buy is more transmitters and I can send two wireless signals to the HDTV and when I want to switch. So it will be cool to watch a movie in the studio when not on the air.  The StarTech kit include a wireless remote control that brings up a on screen menu for its system config and pairing, I can also easily changes sources with a click of the button.

Going wireless is going to set up back about $285.00 on most of their retailers. When it is impossible to run a cable this is the way to go i’m in love already. You end up with a clean install and crystal clear picture as if it had been plugged into a cable. Supported resolutions include 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p.

I am not sure why I waited so long to implement a solution like this but it really keeps the cable deployments to a minimum and works like a charm.

Hub It Sync and Charge Station Review

Posted by geeknews at 4:19 PM on August 23, 2014

hubitThe landscape in American homes has changed when it comes to cables and charging all our devices. We all seem to have device charging cables everywhere and their is never enough plugs. As a bit of a neat freak it drives me crazy to see cables everywhere..

Up until today there has been no solution to clean up the mess. When the Hub It Sync and Charge Station arrived for review, I knew before opening the box we had a winner and I was so right.

As delivered I could charge 7 devices at once with a next gen iPhone connector, old style iPad charger, 2 mini jack usb, and three ports to plugin additional usb cables. Taking the lid off I could have installed 5 more Hub It modules! All in a stylish case where the cables retract when not in use to give a clean charging station area.

hubit2My wife immediately took control of it, and put it in a area in our home where phones / tablets get charged in the evening. She was able to stash all of her cables that had been laying around.

The best part is you can connect the device to a computer and via USB 3.0 you can access each of the devices connected to the Hub. So you can Sync and Charge at the same time. The device has firmware within that can be upgraded to support new devices as they come out.. The best part if the Hub It is only $79.99.

I love that companies are recognizing that we have a huge issue with all the wall warts and cables everywhere. This device requires a single average sizes wall transformer plugin and bom it charges all my devices… We will call this one  a winner and I will be ordering additional Hub It Modules to completely eliminate all extra cables.

See all the details at eggtronic.com be sure to look at the use cases and gallery of pictures on their website.

Archos Helium 50 4G Smartphone Review

Posted by Andrew at 8:57 AM on June 19, 2014

Archos LogoFrench firm Archos has been in the smartphone business since 2013 with a range of over 10 models but the phones are still relatively rare outside of their home country. At this year’s CES, Archos announced the Helium 45 and 50, affordable 4G smartphones with 4.5″ and 5″ screens respectively and Archos have kindly sent me a Helium 50 for review. Let’s take a look.

The Helium 50 doesn’t stray far from the classic smartphone form factor: it’s a rectangle with curved corners and there’s nothing really to make it stand out from the crowd – let’s say it could do with a bit more Gallic flair. Dimensions are 145 x 7.5 x 9 mm (5.7” x 2.8” x 0.35”) and weighs in at 160g. The build quality feels good and the rear shell clips on firmly.

Front View

No major surprises – head phone socket on top, volume rocker on left, power on the right and microUSB on the bottom right for charging. Oddly for a new smartphone model, the buttons at the bottom are fixed – they’re not the expected soft buttons – and one of them is a menu button too, which I believe is deprecated on the newer versions of Android.

Rear View

Although a slim phone regardless, the camera isn’t quite flush with the back.

Archos 50 Camera

Perhaps slightly of note is that when you peek inside, between the microSD card slot and the SIM slot, there’s an empty slot that could potentially take a second SIM.

Inside

On paper, the Archos 50 is running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) on a 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm ARM processor, partnered with an Adreno GPU driving a 5” 1280 x 720 (HD) screen with IPS. There’s 1 GB RAM, 8GB storage plus a microSD slot under the back cover. Not cutting edge specs by any means. Running Geekbench 3, the Helium 50 scores 341 in the Single-Core and 1156 in the Multi-Core test (cf 502 and 1499 for the Nexus 4). Disappointingly, although advertised as an 8 GB phone only 4 GB seems to be available to the user. Clearly a microSD should be an early purchase for new owners.

Archos 50 Specs Benchmarks

Initially, the smartphone’s performance seems good. Nova Launcher animations are smooth and games like Shardlands and Iron Man 3 look detailed and fluid with the Adreno GPU earning its keep. Unfortunately after using the phone for a time the lack of RAM becomes noticeable: while running apps work fine, returning to a previous app often requires the app to restart rather than smoothly switching back.

Shardlands

While talking about games, Ingress shows up the Helium’s GPS. While it’s accurate enough once settled, the GPS can be slow to update and sometimes stalls in one place for 20-odd seconds. It’s probably not so much of an issue with less demanding uses but in Ingress, fast and accurate GPS is critical to hacking and taking a portal.

On the plus side, Android seems to be mostly stock Jelly Bean with a few minor tweaks and some custom Archos apps for music, videos, FM radio and file management. The apps are good and in their favour is that they have built-in access to SMB shares and UPnP servers, which is a definite “thumbs up” from me. If interested, the Video Player is available from Google Play to try out on other phones.

Media Menu Media Player

Moving on to the camera, it has the most comprehensive range of settings that I’ve seen on any camera app – there are no less than three separate settings menus with several options that I didn’t have a clue about – “Max longshot NUM” anyone?! Despite the plethora of settings photographs were a little disappointing with the default settings. Even on “Super fine”, photos were a little grainy.

LionZoom In

Finally, in terms of connectivity, 4G is nippy and watching films via Netflix or BBC’s iPlayer is feasible over 4G (but beware the volume caps!) There’s no doubt that this is the future and I can see that this will appeal to commuters on public transport who want to take advantage of the spare time. Obviously speed and 4G availability will be dependent on your mobile operator but I was pleased with EE’s performance when I was able to get a 4G signal.

In conclusion, I used the Archos Helium 50 4G as my daily phone for about a month and it works: it works fine. All the apps run, it has a big screen, it plays music and it’s well-built, but there’s no doubt that the uninspiring design and low RAM drop it down the leaderboard in comparison with other Android smartphones. On the flip side, the Helium 50 is a 4G smartphone with a 5″ screen, priced at only £199 off-contract which is attractive, especially when compared to other 4G phones at twice the price.

Thanks to Archos for the loan of the Helium 50.

Optoma ML1500 DLP Projector Review

Posted by Andrew at 12:33 AM on June 10, 2014

Optoma LogoThe Optoma ML1500 DLP Projector is a stylish ultra mobile LED projector which pretty much does it all in a very neat little package with a good complement of ports, connections and fun tricks. Let’s take a look.

Optoma Front

Measuring just 27 x 17 x 4.5 cm and weighing only 1.4 kg, the ML1500 is very portable and comes with a neoprene carrying case. As you’ll see from the photos, the projector is attractively styled, with the ports on the back and a touchpad on the top. The touchpad can be used to operate the built-in menus to control the ML1500 and there is also a supplied remote control for when changes need to be made from afar. On the bottom, a third leg can be screwed in and out to adjust the angle, and a standard photo mount allows the projector to be hung from above. Finally, a lever on the side controls the focus.

Optoma ML1500 Rear

Round the back there is a plethora of connections, with composite video, HDMI and VGA connectors, 3.5mm jacks for audio and microUSB, USB and SD card slots. Connect up the ML1500 to a PC or laptop and it appears as an Optoma WXGA (1280×800) monitor and with suitable OS, you can do the usual tricks of either reproducing the current desktop or extending the desktop to the ML1500′s display. Locking onto the VGA signal took a second or two, but nothing out of the ordinary. The small size of the projector meant that I could keep it on my desk and if I needed to have an impromptu team meeting that needed something shown, I could quickly turn the ML1500 onto a nearby wall, rather than everyone huddle round a monitor.

Optoma ML1500 Remote ControlOn the fun side, the ML1500 makes a good partner to mini media streamers like the Roku Streaming Stick or Chromecast. The stick can be plugged into the ML1500′s HDMI sockets and power pulled from an adjacent USB socket. All set and good to watch Netflix or other streaming service with minimum of fuss.

The ML1500 does a few other tricks up its sleeve (or USB port as the case may be). First of all, the projector has a built-in media player and office document viewer that will show films, play music and display Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF files directly from either an SD card or USB memory stick. I didn’t deliberately try to break the viewer but the ML1500 managed to cope with all the Office documents that I threw at it. It’s relatively easy to navigate round the documents and zoom in or out with the remote control. The on-screen menus are easy to navigate with large friendly icons showing the way.

Playing movies is cool too, with the ML1500 handling mp4, avi and mov format files (though I didn’t confirm the codecs inside each). The presentation is good with the projector keeping up with the action and the picture is fine in unlit room – it doesn’t need to be darkened. Obviously you can have a pretty big screen if you want – I watched a couple of films and really got into the cinematic feel of things. Colours were good and sound is ok – it’s not hifi but you can connect up via a 3.5 mm jack if you want more oomph.

Optoma WiFi DongleNext on the list of clever things is the USB wifi dongle which plugs into the ML1500. Once connected to the “Optoma Display” wireless network, you can use an app on your smartphone or tablet to play presentations and display media. I used WiFi-Doc on Android and the app is available for iPhone and iPad too. It’s easy to use – select what you want to show and it’ll be shown by the ML1500. You can zoom in and out of photos and documents, and about a second later, the projector will update to show the change. Here’s the app showing a photo of the house that Mel Gibson used while filming Braveheart. The app wasn’t quite as good as the built-in player when it came showing office files as a couple of pdfs had missing images.WiFi-Doc App

A final nifty feature was auto-keystone correction, where the ML1500 automatically adjusts the projection to account for the angle of the projector, which means that the picture on the screen is always rectangular and not fatter at the top than the bottom.

One minor niggle is that adjusting the focus has to be done manually and it can’t be corrected using the remote control. Not a big deal in most circumstances but could be an issue if the projector was mounted high up.

Although I’m not a projector expert, I enjoyed putting the ML1500 through its paces. Its comprehensive ports and built-in media player make it a good choice for both business and pleasure, and for those on the move, the low weight and PC-free capabilities, are attractive. I think it’s priced about right too at under £700.

Thanks to Optoma for the review unit.

Bayan Audio Soundbook X3 Review

Posted by geeknews at 8:41 PM on June 7, 2014

bayan

The Bayan Audio Soundbook X3 is unlike any wireless speaker product, I have ever reviewed at Geek News Central. Immediately I had to tell the gang hands off this thing after about 5 minutes of testing. The first thing you notice when you are unpacking the Soundbook is that this not some cheap piece of gear. The build quality is solid and as you see in the picture has some serious style.

This mobile wireless speaker is packed with features it will play continuous audio for 10 hours on its own battery. The sound quality via Bluetooth connection is rich and just the right amount of base. I am pretty picky when it comes to sound quality, and the Soundbook really surprised me they have packed a lot of quality into this speaker.

It has 2.1 stereo with a combined 25 watts of output power. At max volume of the unit it did not have any distortion, I was shocked at the total output level it was capable off. The on-board battery as I said will give you 10 hours of play, and if you are in need of a charge you can even charge a smartphone with the included USB port on the back. It is designed with Smart Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX.

bayan2You can bridge the unit to other devices but we did not test that functionality. It has an integrated FM Radio with built in antenna that worked great. The biggest surprise was that it has a built in Microphone for hands free conference calling. Testing this on my desk audio quality was great and feedback from the call participants said the incoming audio quality was excellent.

The front of the unit has the retro lcd display hid behind the grill and you can change easily change the functions. The speaker functions include Bluetooth, Aux Input (Back) & FM.  Adjusting the audio level can be done by your phone or from the recessed volume control buttons on top of the unit. There is a power button and channel up/down buttons as well. Finally there is even a jack in the back to plug headphones into.

Overall this is a fantastic portable wireless speaker that comes in three colors. Quality does come at a price, I looked around the net and found an average price of $420.00. Bayan Audio has a wide range of wireless speakers / sizes at a variety of price points worthy of checking out.