Lil’ Wiz Vibration Speaker

Lil' Wiz Vibration SpeakerCourtney introduces her favourite “party-in-a-pocket”, the Lil’ Wiz. It’s a mini vibration speaker that converts any flat surface into a loudspeaker.

There are two Lil’ Wiz models – the first is a basic MP3 player and takes microSD cards ($79). The second has Bluetooth and will stream music from any Bluetooth-equipped smartphone or tablet, both iOS and Android ($99).

Both have rechargeable batteries, though it’s not clear how long the battery can be expected to last. A special mount connects the Lil’ Wiz to glass or other smooth hard surface to use a window as a speaker.

I can’t imagine the Lil’ Wiz provides audiophile levels of sound but it seems to be a fun device for some impromptu music.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDR News.

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Connected Wireless Speaker by Sharper Image

Sharper ImageWe all want to listen to music while we are in the kitchen or bathroom, but for most of us counter space is at a premium. Sharper image has a solution for this problem. At CES 2012 Steve Lee of Netcast Studio spoke with Don of Sharper Image about their newest product the connected wireless speaker. It takes up very little space and is designed specifically for the kitchen or bath. You can either plug it into any AC outlet or it also works through the installed lithium batteries. There is between 3-4 hours of playback time on a fully charged battery. Once it is plugged in or started it will connect wirelessly to your Bluetooth enabled device including a smart phone or tablet. You can also take a call directly from the device with its built in microphone. It should be available in May or June for about $49.99 online at the Sharper image Web site or through various retailers. This should be a great product for the kitchen or bath.

Interview by Steve Lee of Netcast Studio

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IRIS 9000 – Use Siri From Dock

IRIS 9000

IRIS 9000

ThinkGeek has put out a new device for your iPhone 4S. The IRIS 9000 dock with remote.

So you are at home. You plug in your iPhone 4S to charge and sit down to relax. You forget that you need to schedule that appointment in your phone, however, the phone is way over there. What do you do?

The new item, slated for Q1 2012, is a remote system that lets you shout at your phone for answers. You press the remote and ask Siri a question, the speaker system will broadcast the answer to you.

The remote does not have a microphone in it. The “built-in mic” says it can pick up your voice from a distance. So you may have to yell at the top of your lungs if you are in the other room.

Hey Siri! Where’s my wrench?

It’s a great way to keep your schedule set. It might also be a great alarm clock when you have the phone plugged in, and not lying on the bed next to you. This is only for 4S models. Price: $59.99

 

REVIEW: Jabra Freeway Hands Free Bluetooth Speaker

I have an older car – with no Bluetooth and definitely no MP3 player. It hasn’t been a big deal – I have been using my iPhone through a device that sends an FM radio signal. But now I can take all those wires away and use this Jabra Freeway Bluetooth speaker. A pretty impressive device that was awarded the best of CTIA wireless in 2011.

Jabra Freeway Front View

Jabra Freeway Front View

The Good Stuff – Jabra Freeway

Let’s answer the “What is the FM button for” question. Well, it simply turns this device into a FM tuner. You can listen to the voice through the built-in speaker, or through the radio on a tuned frequency. Great for if the whole car needs to hear a conversation.

The Jabra Freeway charges on a Micro-USB plug. The device can be affixed to the visor of your car (or wherever you want to put it). Turn the power on and you hear a voice say “Jabra on – Ready for pairing”.

The pairing process on iPhone is pretty standard. Turn on Bluetooth and choose the Freeway. Key in the pin (if necessary) and the device will pair.

When you have to answer a call, just hit the button with the phone receiver on it. Need to hang up – do the same. Volume buttons on the bottom to turn up and down the audio and a mute button if sirens are piercing outside.

Even though it’s pretty big for a Bluetooth hands-free unit, the contour does make it work so you can place it on the visor without blocking the vanity mirror. However, the speaker will also do double-duty. Whereas most hands-free units only take the phone calls, you can play music right through this unit. Turn on the FM button and your music will transfer over.

Like most units nowadays, you can charge in a couple hours and be on standby for days. Even with moderate to heavy usage, you might have to re-charge once every 6-7 days.

Since the unit is most likely right above your head, I can talk to someone while my windows are rolled down. Everyone I talked to through the unit has said there was no issue in hearing me. That is the best test of the Jabra Freeway.

The Not So Good Stuff – Jabra Freeway

I wasn’t completely impressed with the speakers in the unit. There was a noticeable clip (a buzzing sound) when I was listening to either music or someone talking to me with the volume around 70-80%. I had to turn down the speaker a bit to make the clipping sound go away.

The devices’ wire clip to the visor causes a bit of concern – especially since this is a bigger unit. If I am driving down the highway with the windows rolled down, then get a blast from the sun – causing me to whip the visor to the side window – I could see that unit go flying into the cross-traffic. A piece of velcro could be the answer, since I don’t see a person moving this unit around too much.

There are a lot of voice commands in this unit. Other hands-free units let me say “Call – [person]” once I press the button. You have to learn the commands – although by asking for help, the unit will give you a list of options.

There is no pause or stop button for the music. You have to press voice and then say “Pause”. Would have been better with just the button.

The Verdict

It does have a couple flaws, but the device is pretty good. This is a unit that sells for $129.99, so the price might be the tipping point to saying no. After all, I don’t need a device to play my iPod music as much and I can get a hands-free bluetooth unit for $50 or less.

If the Freeway was to drop below $100 and fix the speaker clipping, then it will be worth it. Otherwise, if you need a nicely designed unit with a larger speaker, then the Freeway is for you.

Disclaimer: I did receive a unit from the company. This is a unbiased review of the Freeway.

iGo For You On-The-Go

Tom interviews Ross from iGo, which will probably be familiar to anyone who’s traveled on business. These are the guys who provide all the portable power equipment to keep your gadgets charged up – I’ve even got a few bits’n’pieces from them – and at CES, they were showing off a few of the their latest toys.

First up was a portable speaker ($19.99) that runs for a couple of hours off a pair of AA batteries and works with any device that has a 3.5mm jack. Next was a folding device stand ($14.99) designed to hold a smartphone or PMP at an ideal angle for viewing video. Then there is KeyJuice keychain battery ($19.99) for emergency charging of your iPhone, iPod or iPad. Also shown were wall and car USB chargers, each with two USB ports. Finally, they offer iPad docks and keyboards, though they’re not shown in the video.

Interview by Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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WOWee One Portable Speaker Uses Flat Surfaces To Create Bass

Scott Friedman presents the WOWee One (www.woweeone.com), a portable speaker that when placed down on a flat surface uses that surface to create extra bass from what is a very small portable unit designed to be used with portable playback devices such as iPods and other MP3 players.

Interview by Jeffry Powers of Geekazine and Esby Larsen of MrNetCast.com

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