Roccat Woos Gamers at CES

Roccat LogoHardware outfit Roccat Studios are dropping a whole bunch of new toys at CES  for the hardcore gamer, including headphones, mice and keyboards. Known for their signature Kone gaming mouse, the new products look the business.

First up are two additions to the Roccat range of mice. On the left, there’s the new Kone XTD Optical which has a 6,400 dpi optical sensor. If my maths is right, that means you can move the mouse just 4 micrometers and the movement will be picked up. That’s tiny – a piece of paper is about 90 micrometers thick. On the right, it’s the Kone Pure Military, coming in three different designs – Desert Strike, Naval Storm and Camo Charge. I like the look of these! The Pure Military “only” has a 5,000 dpi optical sensor. Both mice have Roccat’s tracking and distance control unit (TDCU) for more precise gaming and greater accuracy.

Kone XTD Optical Mouse      Kone Pure Military Mouse

 

Next are two additions to the Ryos keyboard range, the TKL and TKL Pro. Both are compact keyboards without the numeric keypad and the Pro version comes with per-key illumination and effects such as “breathing” and four different switch colours. As you’d expect from any serious gaming keyboard, keys can easily be programmed with macros and there are three additional programmable thumbster keys below the space bar.

Ryos TKL Keyboard

Finally, two new Kave XTD headsets have been announced – the 5.1 Analog and the Stereo. The 5.1 Analog is the successor to the original Kave 5.1 and is made for gamers who already have a 5.1 soundcard, with both audio jacks and USB connectors to power up the in-cable remote and LED lighting. Weight has been reduced by 25% while improving comfort and build quality.

The XTD Stereo has same design and build, with a pair of driver units giving rich gaming stereo sound. The noise-cancelling microphone can be removed when not required and the mute LED can silence the microphone at inappropriate moments.

Kave XTD Headset

 

Prices were not disclosed at time of announcement, but you can learn more at Roccat’s showroom in the Venetian Hotel during CES 2014.

 

Moxytronix CordCruncher Earbuds Review

Moxytronix‘s CordCruncher earbud headphones are the latest attempt to defeat that bane of modern life, knotted and twisted audio cords. These tangle-free headphones solve the problem by using a secondary rubber tube to retract and hold the cords when not in use. Cunning.

image

The headphones come in a small pack, with three pairs of different-sized interchangeable earbuds. I would imagine that anyone who is used to wearing earbuds will have no problems here. The CordCrunchers are available in a range of colours, included a very hot pink which the photos below completely fail to reproduce – it’s a gamut thing.

image

The picture above shows the CordCruncher in the retracted state with all the cord inside the rubber tube – it’s only about 18″ long. To use the headphones, hold the jack end and pull on the earbud cords, drawing the leads out of the tube to a full length of over 3 feet. The picture below shows the Crunchers with the cords extracted. The zigzag gives a clue as to how the cord “crunches” up inside the tube.

Headphones extracted

To pack the earbuds away, hold the jack in one hand and then pull the black collar away from the jack. The rubber tube is latex and stretches enormously until the cables are back inside. Gently relax and everything concertinas back up to the original length, tucking all the cables away. It’s not that easy to explain, so here’s a video.

After using the CordCrunchers for a week or two, I can confirm that they actually work and tangled cords are a thing of the past. I carried these round in my sports bag during testing and I never had a single tangle. Yank them out, stick them in your ears and get to work.

Sonically they’re not the greatest earbuds ever and in comparison with Sennheiser CX-300s, the sound is muddy and poorly defined. To be fair, the CX-300s cost about twice the price and audio fidelity isn’t the main reason for buying the CordCrunchers. However, I hope that Moxytronic do consider a higher end model in the future for those who demand more.

Pricewise, they’re around US$25 and here in the UK, they’re being sold by Advanced MP3 Players for a £19.99 in a range of four colours (pink, green, black and blue).

Finally, my six year-old daughter thought they were cool, which is probably more to do with the pinkness than anything else.

Thanks to DAD and Advanced MP3 Players for providing the CordCrunchers for review.

AfterShokz Sportz M2 Review

AfterShokz M2 In my never-ending search for headphones that are comfortable and I can use while walking along the roadside in the morning I brought a pair of AfterShokz Sportz M2. What makes AfterShokz different then most other headphones is that it uses bone conduction to work. Instead of placing the earpiece in your ear, it lays in front of your ear along your jawbone. The sound is then conducted through the bone into the inner ear.

I wore it yesterday morning while walking two miles in hot and humid weather and it was quite comfortable. Once I figured out where to set them to get the best sound they stayed there, despite my sweating. While on the walk I listen to some music and a bit of a podcast. The podcast came through well, I could hear it clearly even when a car went by. The music was fine, the bass was a little weak but not bad. The volume control and on off switch is on a small box on the cable which you can clip on to your shirt. The model I brought also has a switch to answer phone calls. I don’t make or receive a lot of phone calls so haven’t been able to test that yet.

Overall I am happy with the AfterShokz Sportz M2. They were comfortable, stayed put even while sweating and the audio was fine. However they are not perfect, as I said before although the audio was fine the bass was weak. So if you like bass thumping music, these are probably not the headphones for you. Also if you wear glasses these are not the headphones for you. I tried to wear my glasses and it didn’t work, I couldn’t get the headphones to lay correctly. If you are not an audiophile, don’t wear glasses and are interested in headphones that use bone conductivity I would take a look at the AfterShokz M2.

Runaway Air-Fi Bluetooth Headset by Meelectronics Review

HP-AF32-RB-MEE-1I picked up the Runaway Air-Fi AF32 Bluetooth Headsets from Meelectronics this week. They are a part of the Air-Fi series. I chose to get the black and red ones, they are black on the outside and have a red pad on the earpieces and at the top of the band. The band can be adjusted to fit your head.  They sit nicely on my ears. The controls which are on the side of the headphones include the button to connect to your Bluetooth device, the forward and reverse button and the volume button. Once I remembered where they were controlling them was easy. The headset also has a hidden headphone. I had no trouble connecting the headphones to any of my devices and including an iPad mini, a Mac Mini and a Galaxy Nexus. I used the headphone to disconnect a call and it worked well. Depending the capability of your phone you maybe able to use the headphones to make a voice call, this worked fine with my Galaxy Nexus .

How do they sound? First I have to say I am not an audiophile so your experience may differ. I thought they sounded good however like a lot of headphones of today the base is emphasized but that is something that I like. I did hear some crackling and hiss noise while I was listening to one song yesterday, however at the time I had walked downstairs away from the device and it was a song I had ripped at a lower bit level. The one thing I appreciate is that if you are having a problem with the Bluetooth connection there is an audio cable included that you can use to connect it to your device and use it as a wired device. According to the website the headphone audio play back will last up to twelve hours on a full charge and about ten hours of talk time. Unfortunately your device’s battery will drain much quicker than the headphone, so when you are not using it, make sure to turn it off along with the Bluetooth connection on your device. It takes about four hours to charge the headphones. They do fold up, however not as flat as I would like them to, they do however fit nicely in the supplied carrying bag.

Overall despite some hiccups I am happy I purchased the Runaway Bluetooth Headsets. They are available on the website and other online stores including Amazon from around $70.00 up to $99.00 depending on the color you choose. I was fortunate enough to get them for almost half price by getting them through the Lockergnome Deal Website. If you are looking for a decent pair of on ear stereo Bluetooth headphones I would take a look at the Meelectronic Runaway AF32 Headsets.

Yurbuds Ironman Series Earphones

Yurbuds Spring is coming, which means a lot of walking outside. I like to listen to music or podcasts when I am walking. The problem I have is my ears get sweaty and when they do I have trouble keeping most earphones in. I could wear over the ear headphones, but then I can’t hear what is happening around me and since I have to walk on the side of the road that could be dangerous. When I try to wear most ear buds they are constantly falling out as I am walking. Which means I am continually trying to stick them back in or they end up dangling down in front of me and I can’t hear the music. Either way it is very frustrating. I wanted to try to find a solution for this problem before the spring weather comes into full swing and I think I have.

Yurbuds slogan is “Developed by Athletes for Athlete” and according to the box they are guaranteed to never fall out. They come in a small box and inside the box are the headphones , a small carrying case and a card with instruction on them. The earphones are kidney-shaped and fit snugly inside the ear and then “lock in”. The hardest part is getting them in right, which is key to them not falling out. Once they are in they stay in. I wore them walking on the first warm day of spring and although I was sweating they didn’t fall out. The true test though will come in the summer when it is humid and its 80 degrees, while I am walking. My other complaint is the fact that the cords do get tangled up if you just throw them in your pocket.

The earphone are made of a soft silicon and they feel very comfortable in my ear. The audio sounds fine. I was listening to a workout music playlist from Songza and the bass beat was good, not great but good. The upper and middle tones sound fine. If you keep the volume down to a reasonable level you can hear what is going on around you, which I appreciate. Overall I am happy at this point that I purchased Yurbuds Ironman Series.

Able Planet Gamer’s Choice

able Able Planet winner of several awards over the years for their Linx Audio Technology showed off their new gaming headphones at CES 2013 the Gamers’ Choice. Linx Audio Technology enables you to hear frequencies you can’t hear normally or with other technology. It splits the signal in to three tone harmonics . This technology enhances sound quality and clarity, reduces distortion and because it is an analog technology it also reduces interference from other digital devices.

The new gaming headphone with the Linx Audio Technology comes in eight colors. It has an adjustable headphone strap. You can easily move the microphone to the position you want. It also has an inline volume control, The headphones come with several adapters so you can use them with portable gaming devices, laptops and an Xbox. One headphone for all your gaming needs. The adapter for the laptop is also a must for podcasters with older laptops it will turn your audio into 16 bits and reduce the hissing sound. For more information about these headphones, lynx technology and other Able Planet products visit the Able Planet website

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine, and Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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SOL Republic shows off headphones like no others

sol republic logoSeth Combs from SOL Republic stopped in to visit with TPN in Las Vegas and show off some new headphones that are like no others you have ever seen.

The new set is called Master Tracks. This is the company’s first “over the ear” headphones and, as you will see in the video below, seem to be virtually indestructible. the headphones come in different colors and the parts are completely interchangeable. That means if an earpiece on one side stop working then you simply by another — not a whole new headphone set. Tat includes the cable as well.

The headphones shown in the video below retail for $199, but the company also offers cheaper models as well.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology

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I-Mego unveils new headphones

i-megoI-Mego was at the recent Consumer Electronics Show to show off a new line of headsets. The company unveiled  couple of different models — the Throne and the Ztone.

The Throne is an over-the-ear model that comes in two different colors. That may seem like taste and it is, but not in teh way you may think. The different colors are tuned differently depending of the music you like — they vary from rap to acoustic to rock.

The company also unveiled an in-ear model that won a CES Innovation Award for the tremendous build quality and attention to detail brought to the product. It comes in different sizes to fit your ear. That particular model is called Ztone by the company.

I-Mego also showed off a new prototype, but you will need to watch the video below to see that one.

The Ztone retail for a very reasonable $99 — a bargain for molded in-ear pieces. The Throne ranges from $79 to $129. You can check everything out at I-Mego.

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

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Sennheiser Momentum Headphones

Sennheiser

Sennheiser has been producing headphones for over 50 years and has created some classics along the way (HD414s anyone?). Each year, Sennheiser brings something new to the table and this year was no different. Todd chats to Ivan, Sennheiser’s Head of Product Development to find out what’s hot.

On show is a new addition to the Momentum range: the Momentum Black open headphones in a stylish black leather, accented in red with a red cord. Cleverly, the headphone jack converts between both straight and 90 degree configuration to suit the owner’s preferences, and there is a interchangeable remote for use with digital music players and smartphones.

Undoubtedly high-end phones with a price of $349, but if you are interested, they’ll be in the stores real soon.

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

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AfterShokz Bone Conductivity Headphones

Aftershokz Aftershokz showed off their new headphones with up to 21 total improvements from the previous version. What makes these headphones different from most headphones is the use of  bone conductivity. Bone conductivity was developed for the military and police, because they don’t go into the ear they allow you to be situational aware. You can wear them outdoors for such sports as running or walking and still hear what’s going on around you. Among some of the improvements that were made include sound quality, they fit better, are better looking and are sweat proof. They are 30% smaller and lighter than the previous version and they also included a reflective safety strip on the back. They fit most heads but for those with smaller heads there is a tension band included. Fully charged there is about 6 to 8 hours of playing time. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to do a full charge. You can control everything from the headset including volume, play, take calls and fast-forward and rewind.

There is a two-year no question asked warranty. The newest model is a wireless Bluetooth version which has an MSRP of $119 but should retail around $99.95. The wired version runs around $79.95 retail. The Aftershokz headphones won Design and Engineering Showcase Honors for innovation at CES 2013.  You can purchase AfterShokz headphones at their websites and various online and off-line retail locations.

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

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