Category Archives: smartphone

Pioneer Brings CarPlay and Android Auto to the After-Market



Pioneer logoPioneer is a brand for well-known for its in-car audio and entertainment systems so it comes as no surprise that the company is bringing a range of after-market units with Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. Todd and Marlo get a demo of the latest product with Ted Cardenas from Pioneer.

On show here is the freshly-announced Pioneer AVH-4200-NEX, which is one of three products which incorporate both CarPlay and Android Auto. As a result, the display and user interface will take on the persona of the connected device. The in-dash receiver connects to the smartphone using a wired connection as the phones contribute heavily to the running of apps. Plugging in the phones avoids issues with data speeds and keeps the battery charged, though Bluetooth is used in Android Auto for calls.

Voice is heavily used by both the driver to control the NEX and for the system to respond. Voice can be used to compose and listen to text messages, to navigate and to talk to Siri or Google Now. This keeps the need to look at the screen to a minimum and enhances safety.

If your current vehicle’s in-car entertainment system doesn’t support CarPlay or Android Auto, the Pioneer NEX range offers a great way to upgrade to the latest auto technology. Priced at around $700, the AVH-4200-NEX will be available in March.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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Invisible Touch with HandScape at CES



Handscape logoHandScape claim to be “Reinventing touch” and honestly, it’s not far from the truth. Their HandyCase puts a touch-sensitive panel on the back of a smartphone or tablet which lets the user work the device without fingers obscuring the display. LG has put buttons on the back of smartphones before but HandScape take it to the next level. Todd and Marlo see the possibilities with Tong Luo, founder and CEO.

Originally a Kickstarter project, the HandyCases for iPhone and iPad incorporate a touch-sensitive digitiser into a shell case. With multipoint capability, the touches, swipes and taps are transmitted via Bluetooth to the device which then reacts as if it had been tapped on the front display. This is genius. Imagine holding your smartphone in your hand and being able to scroll through your contact list by stroking the back of the phone with with one finger, and then double tapping to dial the number. Fantastic!

Cases are currently available for select Apple products with prices up to about US$150. It’s not 100% clear from the website what works now and what requires developer support so if you are thinking of buying you might want to confirm to avoid disappointment.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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iKlip A/V Smartphone Mount



IK MultimediaYou’re covering an event and travelling light with a smartphone for video. For audio, you’ve got your radio mic but where’s the receiver to go? IK Multimedia have got it covered with the iKlip A/V smartphone mount for broadcast professionals. Daniel gets a demo from Starr.

The iKlip A/V is the first portable mount with a built-in pre-amp, allowing HD video from the smartphone to be matched with high quality audio from a radio mic. The mount can hold most standard-sized smartphones, and on the other side, there’s a XLR connection for the receiver. Output from the amp is a TRRS 3.5mm jack which is plugged into the smartphone to give great sound quality.

The iKlip A/V is expected to go on sale in Q2 2016 for around US$179.

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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SureCall Boosts Phone Signal in the Home



Surecall Logo

SureCall’s EZ 4G is a user-installable mobile phone signal booster for homes and offices that unlike most other products does not require an outdoor antenna. The EZ 4G consists of large receiver antenna which is placed in a window or other surface where there is at least some signal. A second smaller transmitter connected via coax cable then rebroadcasts the signals within the room. Don Baine chats with Frankie Smith to get some more details.

The EZ 4G works with all carriers and technology from 2G to 4G to deliver improved indoor mobile phone signal coverage for all phones or SIM-equipped devices within range of the transmitter and works with both incoming and outgoing calls. If there’s any kind of signal in the area, the EZ 4G will boost it.

The EZ 4G system will be on sale in January for US$399 MSRP from good online retailers and big box retail stores. SureCall has a full range of signal boosting systems for homes, offices and vehicles.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com

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mJoose Case Boosts Smartphone Signal Strength



mJoose LogoThe mJoose is a 3-in-1 phone case for the Apple iPhone 6 series and Samsung Galaxy S6 that protects the phone, extends the battery life and boosts the phone signal. Is this too good to be true? Don Baine assesses the mJoose with John Casalaspi, VP Sales.

Originally an Indiegogo campaign that was 546% funded, the mJoose is a sled-type case in matt black or bone white that surrounds and protects the phone. Embedded within the case is a 3,000 mAh rechargeable battery and an active signal booster. Unlike passive boosters, the mJoose has built-in circuitry to receive the phone signal, amplify the signal and pass it on the the smartphone. The active boost will add about two bars to the signal strength and could make the difference between making a call and not. It works across all carrier frequencies from 2G to 4G for all carriers, whether GSM or CDMA.

The mJoose will be available in the next month or so for the iPhone 6 series – it’s in the last stages of Apple accreditation. The version for the Galaxy S6 and Edge phones will arrive a little later. Pricing will be around US$149.99 retail depending on model.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com

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UniKey Powers ERA Touchkey into UK



Unikey logo

With a string of successful smart lock products such as the Kwikset Kevo, UniKey are expanding out of the US and into other worldwide markets, but it’s not simply a case of taking a US product and selling it abroad as each country has its own size and security requirements . Don discusses the problem with Dirk from UniKey and looks at the first smartlock product from UniKey for the UK’s residential market.

The ERA Touchkey has been developed in partnership with ERA, a long established British manufacturer, to bring a smart nightlatch to the UK. The lock is really simply to use….touch the lock, the lock talks to your smartphone (which can stay in your pocket or bag), checks your credentials and opens the door if authorised. It’s clever enough to tell if the smartphone is on the inside or outside of the door, to stop the door being unlocked to intruders because your phone is nearby inside the house.

The ERA Touchkey will be available in the first half of 2016, but no details on price.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Wistiki Tracking Tags by Philippe Stark



Wistiki LogoBluetooth tracking devices are fairly common but when the tags have been designed by Philippe Starck as “connected jewels”, it’s definitely worth taking a look. Lisa Despeyroux, Wistiki’s Communications and PR manager connects with Jamie and Daniel to tell them more about Hopla!, Voila! and Aha!

French outfit Wistiki have partnered with the famous designer, Philippe Starck, to create three shapes of tracking device (or Wistikis) in four colours. Hopla! is credit card shaped for wallets and purses, Voila! is rectangular for keychans and the oval Aha! dangles for pets or gear. Colour-wise, the choice is yellow, blue, orange and pink. It all adds up to Gallic flair!

As with most tracking systems, the Wistiki connects to an app on the smartphone and there’s a fairly standard set of features including ring, reverse ring and leash. There’s an additional neat feature where if someone finds a lost Wistiki, they can message the original owner to arrange return. And the ringtone is cool too.

The new range is launching on Indiegogo now with expected delivery in late 2016. Current perks offer six Wistikis for US$149.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast

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Dog and Bone LockSmart Padlock



Dog and Bone logoDog and Bone are more usually known for their protective range of Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphone cases, though here it’s a smartphone-controlled Bluetooth padlock that’s going to provided the protection. Jamie and Daniel find out more from Maria.

Dog and Bone’s LockSmart keyless Bluetooth padlock is exactly what it says: a padlock that uses Bluetooth communication from an app on a smartphone to unlock it. While that alone might be handy in some circumstances, the real trick is that with the app the owner can give unlocking privileges to other people. Say your bike’s padlocked to a railing in town and you want a friend to pick it up for you. You can give him (or her) the unlock permissions for the LockSmart, let him get the bike and once it’s returned, you can revoke the permissions. Definitely much handier than sharing keys or combinations. In addition, the app can manage multiple locks and receive notifications when locks are opened. Both iOS and Android devices are supported.

There’s a choice of two LockSmarts: on sale now is the larger version at US$89.95 with a mini version expected soon for US$69.95.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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Fonebud Smartphone Companion at CES



Fonebud_CC_3_grandeDon Baine and Dix Chew, Co Founder, look over the the latest iterations of the Fonebud at CES. A minimal secondary handset for your smartphone that combines a Bluetooth headset with a USB charger and flashlight, the Fonebud goes in the hand while the expensive smartphone stays in the pocket.

For long calls, the Fonebud works like a Bluetooth headset to reduce RF exposure but as it’s a handset, you don’t look too nerdy holding it to your ear. In high crime areas, it reduces your loss if a thief tries to snatch the handset from your grasp. For additional safety, there’s a variant with a built-in panic alarm.

Three new versions are coming to market with price points from US$76 to US$99. The current Fonebud Essential Plus is available now from US$51 at Fonebud’s online shop.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and he holds classes at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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LG Tone Infinim Headset Updated for CES



LG logoLG Electronics (LG) will unveil the latest iteration of the LG Tone Infinim at CES 2016 this year. For those who haven’t seen the Tone Infinim before, this style of Bluetooth headset is in a contemporary design and is worn around the neck. It certainly looks very different from the usual style of in-ear headset while still being convenient to use.

Tone Infinum

As an upgraded successor of the popular HBS-900, the new Tone Infinim (HBS-910) inherits the previous model’s main strengths such as metallic body, wire retractable earbuds, long-lasting battery and Harmon/Kardon audio quality. With its upgraded Quad-Layer Speaker Technology, the new Tone Infinim delivers a great audio experience with better balance across all sound ranges and enhancing the frequency response ratio for richer bass and crisper high notes. Dealing with noisy environments such as crowded subways or city streets are an easy challenge for the new Tone Infinim with dual noise-cancelling microphones.

The original Tone Infinim set a new standard for wireless headset design,” said Chung Sue-hyun, Vice President of Innovative Personal Devices at LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “We delivered an audio solution that offered days of battery life, a comfortable fit that didn’t fall off the neck when unused and most importantly, fantastic sound. It’s no wonder the LG Tone Infinim series is the most copied design in this product category.

LG Tone Infinim Bluetooth Headset

The new Tone Infinim will be available in the United States from February with other parts of Asia and Europe to follow soon after. Pricing is not available at the moment.