Kinivo Music and Video Gadgets at CES

Kinivo LogoKinivo have a range of consumer-oriented music products from headsets to speakers, including several with Bluetooth. Don chat’s with Henry Wong, Kinivo’s Director of Product Management to find out more.

All of Kinivo’s products are competitively priced – for example the ZX100 Mini Portable Speaker with rechargeable battery costs less than $20. The BTH360S Bluetooth Stereo Headphones which supports wireless music streaming and hands-free calling costs $69.99 so these are good value products. There’s also an interesting HDMI switcher, the HS420 which has four inputs and two outputs, at just under $65. Could be very handy for advanced gaming or home cinema setups.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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On3 PowerCliq Smart Battery Case

PowerCliq LogoCombo battery cases for the Apple iPhone are commonplace from no-name clones to well-known manufacturers whose brand is almost synonymous with the product. On the other hand, combined case, battery and Bluetooth headset packs with smart battery management are really quite rare. In fact, On3‘s PowerCliq is the only one I know of, so watch Don get a hands-on demo from Brad Yasar of On3.

The PowerCliq is a 2700 mAh battery case for the iPhone which has two additional features. The first is a Bluetooth 4.0 headset that slides into the back of the case for both storage and charging. The second is that the charging features of the external battery can be controlled by app on the iPhone. When plugged in, most battery packs simply charge until the smartphone is fully charged and then keep it topped up; there are some schools of thought that suggest this can be detrimental to the long-term performance of the battery.

On the PowerCliq, the app can be used to set a minimum battery level such that the recharging doesn’t kick in until the iPhone’s battery falls to that level and once fully charged, turns off. This larger discharge / charge cycle is supposed to improve the life of the battery.

The PowerCliq is fundraising on Kickstarter with early birds getting in at $88.  Update: since CES, the Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. There’s a note on Instagram saying that this is to allow for new developments and the campaign will restart soon.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Flic Gets Much Well-Deserved Coverage at CES

Flic logoIf you’ve followed our CES 2015 coverage at all, you’ve probably heard about Flic, the Bluetooth-enabled programmable button. One Flic button can be configured to perform multiple tasks with a simple series of (up to) three clicks.

Brian was the latest correspondent to stop by the Shortcut Labs booth and speak with a representative of Flic. Using the Flic app, users can program a simple button to do things like move thru music playlists, send GPS coordinates and more. Flic is available thru an ongoing Indiegogo campaign. Pricing varies, depending on how many buttons you’d like to buy.

Interview by Nick of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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FreeWavz Wirefree Wearable Earphones

FreeWavz LogoBluetooth headphone are commonplace these days but usually there’s a connector between the two earphones, either as a wire or a band. The FreeWavz wirefree earphones are different, using Bluetooth to transmit the music to both earphones, so there’s no physical connection between the earphones. The earphones are smart too, as the blend between sound from the smartphone and the surrounding environment can be adjusted to match the wearer’s preferences.

That’s the “wirefree” part taken care of. What about the “wearable” bit? Aimed at the fitness enthusiast, FreeWavz aren’t only earphones, they’re fitness bands for the ears, measuring the wearer’s heart rate. As you’d expect, the data is reported back to the connected smartphone but the wearer also hears about his heart rate, calories burned, distance and steps in his ears via the FreeWavz. It’s all clever stuff and there’s more revealed in the interview.

The FreeWavz earphones are expected in the summer and are on pre-order for $219 (RRP is $249).

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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ONvocal Mix360 Combines Music, Voice and Ambient

ONvocal

Anyone who has worn earbuds or in-ear headphones will know that (a) they are very effective in blocking out external noise and (b) phone conversations sound a little strange if you use them with your smartphone to take a call. ONvocal have a solution to these problems….it’s a little unorthodox and pricey so Don finds out more from company president, Bob Spanner.

The Mix360 personal audio device combines microphones with signal processors to mix sound from three sources – music, phone call and environmental noise. The benefit in the first instance is that you can hear the world around you and avoid getting run over by buses plus when you are on a phone call, you hear your own voice, which makes it much more natural. The exact level of each audio source can be adjusted via complementary app. The interview video doesn’t really make it clear but the band is a neckband not a headband and is worn at collar level.

The Mix360 will be available in May with a price of $349 and can be pre-ordered at ONvocal’s shop.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Oort SmartHub Integrates With Bluetooth

Oort Logo

Smart homes and the Internet of Things are very much in vogue at CES this year with vendors offering a wide range of products, some of which hardly deserve the name “smart” and others that are genuinely innovative. In the latter camp, there is Oort which tries to “make your world smarter”. Don learns more from Radek Tadajewski, Wizard of Oort.

The difference between Oort and many of its competitors is that Oort has been designed to work openly with Bluetooth devices from the start. By using Bluetooth profiles as the integration mechanism, Oort can use any Bluetooth device that has the necessary profile. To get you started, there’s a $350 starter kit which includes the Oort hub, light bulbs, sockets and a tracker beacon though other devices can be added as needed. As you’d expect there’s a smartphone app for Android and iOS which communicates with the hub and the connected  devices. You can view the status of devices and sensors through the smartphone app, whether you are inside the house or sitting in the office, and you can turn devices on and off as needed.

There’s more in the interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Flic Smart Wireless Button at CES

Flic logoFlic is a bluetooth-enabled button. That’s it. But it’s a simple idea that has a thousand uses from taking pictures with a smartphone to autodialling or even working as a personal distress alarm. Nick and Todd go “ah-ha” with Pranav Kosuri, co-founder of Shortcut Labs.

Flic is a coin-sized button that can be stuck or clipped onto nearly anything. When pressed, it sends a signal via bluetooth that is actioned by the Flic app (available for both Android and iOS) and actions include controlling music, dialling phone numbers, sharing GPS position, taking pictures, dimming lights and more. It’s a bit like a local version of IFTTT. Different things can be done depending on the number of clicks or if the button is being held down: one click could be take a picture, two clicks take a video. The possibilities are huge.

The Flic is currently on Indiegogo and $99 gets 5x Flics with delivery in April 2015.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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BluBed Lets You Be Hands-Free Everywhere At CES

BluBed

Bluetooth headsets are great for taking phone calls on the go, but they have one fatal flaw: when they’re not being used, they have nowhere to go. While keeping your Bluetooth in your ear constantly may have been cool a decade ago, nowadays we need somewhere safe yet accessible to store it when not in use.

Todd spoke to David Hurwitz of Innervoice Innovations, Inc. about BluBed, a holster for your Bluetooth headset that allows you to go completely hands-free, anytime and anywhere. Just clip the BluBed onto your belt or pocket and pop your headset into the holster when not in use. When a call comes in, simply pop it back out and stick it in your ear.

The BluBed costs $19.95 and is available for purchase on BluBed’s website.

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

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Roadie Tuner Automagically Tunes Your Guitar at CES

Roadie Tuner logoWhether you’re a musician or a music lover, no one appreciates an out-of-tune instrument. And while there are many solutions available to help players keep their strings properly tuned, they usually require clunky workarounds or inaccurate devices.

Todd and Nick met with Sam Force of the company Band Industries. Sam showed off the Roadie Tuner, a mechanical Bluetooth-enabled guitar tuner. Just place Roadie Tuner over your instrument’s tuning pegs and the connected smartphone app takes over, analyzing the sound coming from the strings and commanding Roadie Tuner to turn the pegs accordingly.

Roadie Tuner would be a great accessory for beginners and seasoned players alike. It is currently available for $99 direct from the Roadie Tuner website as well as a growing number of retail outlets.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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Babolat Play Connected Racket Raises The Game

Babolat PlayBabolat‘s pedigree in tennis is hard to beat, going right the way back to the 19th Century, when the company helped create the first racket strings. Today, it’s pushing forwards into the 21st Century with a new connected racket based on their AeroPro Drive to help both tennis professionals and keen amateurs improve their game. Don chats with Jean-Marc Zimmermann, Babolat CIO.

The Babolat Play racket looks like an ordinary racket on the outside but with sensors integrated into the handle, players now have access to a wealth of information – power level, impact position on the racket head, type and number of strokes (forehand, backhand, serve, overhead smash), top spin or back spin, all provided through a smartphone app for both Apple and Android. Incredibly, there are no sensors outside of the handle, so the racket can be treated like any other racket when it comes to match preparation and re-stringing. The racket can be taken on court for six hours between charges, which is plenty for a couple of matches, and holds over 150 hours of performance information.

The Babolat Play racket will be on sale in mid-January for $349. Two further models will be on sale; one lighter for junior players ($299) and one with a larger head (if I understand correctly), also at $349.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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