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


Korus Portable Wireless Speakers

Posted by Andrew at 10:16 PM on January 22, 2014

Korus LogoTodd and Don interview Nortek‘s Rob Halligan about the new wireless speaker system called Korus, which instead of using wifi or Bluetooth, uses SKAA, a wireless hi-fi audio standard that won CES Innovation awards in 2010 and 2011. The benefit of SKAA is low latency and greater range, but the downside is that it’s not built-in to any smartphone, tablet or media player. This is solved via a dongle, the Korus Baton, a SKAA transceiver which comes in USB, Apple Lightning and Apple 30 pin variants. Plug it in to the PC, Mac or Apple device and you are good to go. An Android version is expected later in the year.

Using SKAA rather than wifi or Bluetooth also means that there’s no faffing around with SSIDs or pairing with PINs; it’s simply a case of pressing a button on the wireless speaker and the speaker locks onto the nearest Baton. Press the button again and it moves onto the next.

Korus currently have two speaker units for sale, the V400 and V600, priced at a penny shy of US$350 and $450 respectively on the Korus shop at www.korussound.com.

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

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XOEye Streaming Safety Glasses

Posted by Andrew at 10:08 PM on January 22, 2014

XOEye LogoThere’s no doubt that wearables are where it’s at right now, but devices such as Google Glass or Recon goggles are very much luxury toys. XOEye Technologies have taken a more practical approach, developing safety glasses with built-in video cameras and microphones for use in business, typically manufacturing, construction and field service industry. Don and Todd talk to Aaron Salow, CEO of XOEye.

Currently in the prototype stage, the XOEye solution streams HD video and sound from the glasses across the internet to a remote viewing station, where an expert can review and discuss what the wearer is seeing, usually in an attempt to solve a problem. The wearer can hear the expert through small speakers installed on the glasses, so a conversation can take place between the wearer and the expert. Although still in the early stages of development, XOEye is exploring different materials for the glasses and a range of additional sensors, such as gyros and accelerometers, and other enhancements including a torch.

The final product is expected to come to market in June and there’s more information at www.xoeye.com.

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

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Seal Shield Waterproof Covers

Posted by Andrew at 10:05 PM on January 22, 2014

Seal Shield Logo

Todd and Don chat to Bradley Whitchurch from Seal Shield about their latest products aimed at both the healthcare market and technology users with active lifestyles. With expertise in waterproof and anti-microbial technologies, their core products are washable keyboards, mice and TV remote controls.

In the video, Bradley demonstrates the Seal Shield’s washable True Type keyboard by submersing it in warm water, along with an iPhone and iPad covered in Seal Shield’s Life Proof Shield. The Life Proof Shield is a skin which covers the product, keeping the water out and bug-free.

The Life Proof Shield is $29 for the iPad and can be purchased in a combo with the Life Proof Bumper case for $59 from Seal Shield’s site and other good retailers. More information at www.sealshield.com.

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

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Ventev Battery Packs and Chargers

Posted by Andrew at 4:44 PM on January 20, 2014

Ventev LogoVentev offers innovative combined battery packs and chargers for smartphones and tablets. Scott Franklin, Director, chats with Todd and Don about Ventev’s latest mobile accessories at CES.

External battery backs for smart phones and tablet are very common these days, but the benefit of Ventev’s unit is that the charger is integrated into the pack itself; there’s no need for additional external charger. Scott shows off three different packs in the interview;

  1. the powercell 6000+, a 6000 mAh unit ($74.99) that plugs directly into the mains electricity socket. Two USB ports, rated at 1 A and 2.1 A.
  2. the powerdash r900, a cylindrical 900 mAh unit ($39.99) which charges from a car cigarette lighter. One USB port rated at 2.1 A when plugged in and 1 A when running from the battery.
  3. the utilitycharger 2100, a charger only ($39.99) but powers from both from the mains and from a car lighter. Two USB ports rated at 1 A each.

For more information on availability, visit Ventev’s website at www.ventev.com.

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

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Vimeo Helps You Avoid What You Don’t Want to See

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:00 PM on December 26, 2013

Vimeo logoWhat’s in that video you are about to watch? Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell, at first glance, exactly what you are in for. Not everyone is comfortable with certain kinds of content. Vimeo has taken that into consideration. Now, you can set your content preferences and avoid the things you don’t want to see.

Start by going to your settings page on Vimeo. You can click a bubble to indicate the types of content that you would like to avoid. Some options include: “Don’t show mature content”, “Don’t show unrated”, “Don’t show violence”, “Don’t show nudity” and more. Those who want to see it all can continue to do so. Just click the bubble marked “Show me everything”.

The purpose of the content preferences was to make Vimeo friendly and accessible to all audiences. I can see where the settings would be very useful for people who are watching Vimeo videos with children. It could also help prevent a person who is in a public place (like a coffee shop) from accidentally selecting a video with content that may be inappropriate for some of the people around them.

Personally, I find that I enjoy using the internet a lot more when I have the ability to control what types of content I encounter. There are certain types of content I would prefer to avoid. I think it is wonderful that Vimeo is including the option to filter out the types of content that you just don’t want to see.

Say Goodbye to the DVD Player

Posted by J Powers at 10:52 AM on December 23, 2013

DVD

I remember getting my first DVD player and the movie “The Waterboy”. I also remember streaming my first movie in “Hulk”. Years since, people have debated about losing the tangible disc and moving to streaming. Eventually we knew the DVD would become a thing of the past. As technology improved and new devices came out this year, we may have seen the last viable use for the DVD. Here is why:

Blockbuster

Blockbuster

Blockbuster Goes Bye-Bye, Streaming Video Grows

Blockbuster video rentals closed up in November. This was after a long run and competing with Netflix, followed by Red Box machines. When DISH network bought out Blockbuster, they gave it a home. Its apparent that DISH didn’t want to get into the physical video rental business. So the doors closed.

Netflix tried to close their DVD rental doors a couple years ago with the whole Qwikster debacle — a move that almost killed the company. Somehow they came back stronger than ever, pushing more streaming TV shows and introducing quality shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Add to that promotions — such as the launch of Chromecast: Netflix gave 3-month subscriptions to the first buyers.

I have to admit, I still have my Netflix subscription…

Since Netflix switch to TV show-based content over movies, newer movies take a lot longer to show up on the service. That is where Amazon is leading the pack. You can rent or own the home digital rights of a movie or TV show instead of going down to the store and picking up the box.

Well, at least, kinda…

This last week Disney made Amazon pull back owners rights of holiday movies. It brought up some issue about if you actually own a video. Will that stop millions from buying movies? Probably not.

ChromeCast

Streaming Getting Better

Google Chromecast did two things. They brought the streaming app device down to an affordable price (not that it wasn’t already with the Apple TV and Roku). Chromecast also extended the life of older LCD TVs.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on TV’s with apps inside, they could get a cheaper TV and a set top box to run their content. Sure, the TV is not 1080p 120 Hz, but how many homes care about that type of quality? Especially if the TV is in the bedroom or even since our generation spent years staring at a Cathode Ray Tubes with full satisfaction.

Ultimately, they just want to get Chromecast and Netflix, then possibly cut their cable.

Netflix_Web_Logo

Netflix and YouTube in 4K (2160p)

Time to move to bigger and better video quality. 4,000 pixels – or 2160p. At CES, we will definitely be bombarded with 4K television technology — and we will LOVE it.

Even though some home theater experts have adopted 4K, home Internet speeds don’t really take into account 4K streaming just yet. A 4K video will take 6-12 Mbps connection. DSL won’t be able to handle that, especially if you surf and watch at the same time.

Nonetheless, we move forward. Netflix announced earlier their popular “House of Cards” series will be shot and streamed in 4K. YouTube already has 4K video available, although if you try to stream via Roku or Chromecast, it will most likely try to push the 720p version first. 

iPad 2 Smart Cover

Tablets, Game Consoles, Computers Go DVD-less

Even the computer is losing the DVD drive. Current Mac models don’t come with any type of optical drive. Tablets and smartphones also are disc-free. As desktops lose ground to tablets, the DVD will join the floppy disk, Zip drive and tape backup.

The Pawn Shop Effect

The best way to watch the DVD market is to watch the resale of the DVD. Major chain Pawn America runs a special on Tuesdays for DVDs. In May, they started special events where DVD movies only cost $1.

While newer titles might fetch your more, if you pawn a DVD title, they will most likely buy it at .10 cents so they can make .90 cents.

With all these factors (along with others such as DVR technology and flash drives), 2014 looks to be the year we finally lay the DVD optical disc format to rest. Blu-Ray discs still have value, but the DVD player will definitely be placed with the old TV and VCR down in the basement or garage.

Roku Gets YouTube

Posted by Andrew at 2:00 AM on December 18, 2013

Roku 3Perhaps unsurprisingly given Google’s now somewhat defunct plans for GoogleTV, YouTube has been one of the glaring omissions from the Roku platform. But not any longer. Roku has announced that a YouTube channel is now available on the Roku 3 in USA, Canada, UK and the Republic of Ireland. Older Rokus will be getting the channel next year, though the exact timing is unclear. For non-Roku owners, a channel is roughly equivalent to an app on other platforms.

The YouTube channel supports full 1080p HD and the press release suggests that subscriptions will carry over from other platforms so that your favourites can easily be seen on the Roku. The new channel also features “Send to TV”, which after pairing, lets you send a YouTube video from your smartphone or tablet for viewing on the Roku.

As a Roku 2 XS owner, I’m delighted but will have to wait a bit longer until I get the YouTube channel on my device (unless Santa has a surprise for me). Sadly, it will be one less reason to turn on my Nintendo Wii, especially with the HD support on the Roku.

Amazon Prime continues new shows parade as Betas debuts

Posted by Alan at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2013

amazon prime logoLast week Amazon Prime debuted its first original series in the form Alpha House. Today, the trend continues as Betas becomes available to subscribers – no word on a potential Gamma show, yet.

The retail giant is following the formula put forth with the comedy series Alpha House. In other words, it is releasing the first three episodes all at once, and then doling them out one per week thereafter.

“Betas has been an incredibly fun show to create for customers. We have a stellar cast of comedians and actors, and we think customers are going to enjoy it”, said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios. “he chemistry these guys have on set definitely translates to the screen. While their characters are still very much underdogs, it’s easy to find yourself hoping they make it big in techland”.

Prime video is available via the web or through apps on Google TV, Roku, the Xbox, PlayStation and other set-top boxes. It is also tightly integrated with the company’s Kindle Fire tablets, of which two new HDX models are now available.

New HTML5 Standards for YouTube: Is Google Being Evil

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:41 AM on October 28, 2013

If you watch HD videos on YouTube videos you may have noticed lately that there is a difference depending on what browser you are watching them on. The difference is not your imagination. Google who owns YouTube is now using HTML5 with MPEG-Dash which uses the Media Source Extension API.  This allows an adaptive stream meaning that videos can be automatically switch to lower or higher bit rate depending on bandwidth. This should help to prevent buffering especially during live videos. At first glance this appears to be good news and in the long run it maybe, but at the present time it there is a problem.

Currently only a few browsers support HTML5 with MPEG-Dash they are Chrome, IE–11 for Windows 8 and Opera. If you prefer to use Safari or Firefox than the highest bit rate you can watch a HTML5 video on YouTube is  720p. This is also true for the YouTube App on iOS and other third-party apps that play YouTube videos. It also blocks third-party apps and extensions that download YouTube videos and break the YouTube terms of use.

 

Some people especially on Google Plus are wondering if this is Google being evil, because it forces both Safari and Firefox users to choose between their favorite browsers and watching YouTube videos full HD when available. I believe that what Google is trying to do is to move everyone to the same standard which is set by the World Wide Web Consortium(W3C). If they continue to support the older version of HTML5 than there is no incentive to move forward. Whether that is being evil or not may depend on your point of view. One of the main objections to the way the HTML5 has been drafted is the inclusion of DRM and Encrypted Media Extension. The Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a formal written objection back in May 2013. This issue does not affect Flash videos.  Have you run into this issue and how have you solved it.

Rdio announces new documentary with Red Bull Stratos

Posted by Alan at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2013

Almost one year ago many of us sat enthralled before our computers as we watched Felix Bomgartner slowly ascend into the sky, not stopping until he reached the stratosphere. The rise was painfully slow, but the man had a much quicker plan to return to earth. At a height so dizzying that the curvature of the earth was visible, Bomgartner emerged from his capsule, said a few words, gave a salute and leaped from his platform.

redbull stratos

Now Rdio, a service known mainly for audio, has announced a new documentary of that epic leap from the edge of space. “We’re taking an exciting leap with Red Bull to present Mission to the Edge of Space: The Inside Story Behind Red Bull Stratos, the documentary on the historic space dive project. The film will be available exclusively on rdio.com/redbullstratos for three months beginning on October 14, 2013, which marks the one-year anniversary of Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 24 miles above Earth”, the company announced.

However, Rdio is a music service, and songs play a big part in this release. So, for now, you can listen to the inspiring playlists created by the crew from the Red Bull Stratos project.