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Tag: travel

Zagg HZO – Waterproofing for Electronics

Posted by Andrew at 11:57 PM on January 21, 2012

Zagg Logo

Zagg’s protective films are popular “first purchases” for new smartphone owners and at CES 2012, Zagg shows off their latest protection mechanism. Todd chats to Bill from Zagg to find out what it protects against.

The adage is that water and electricity don’t mix, and by extension, water and mobile devices don’t mix well either. Zagg hopes to change that with a new nanotech-based coating, HZO, that repels water so effectively that a dunk in the drink will have no effect on the device.

The HZO coating is applied during the manufacturing process so that every component is properly treated and waterproofed. There’s no physical skin or cover as the water-repellency is at the molecular level. Almost any device can be waterproofed – smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, headphones, but it has to be done during manufacture, not by the end-user.

Zagg is currently in negotiation with major OEMs so expect water-repellent devices to hit the market in 12-18 months and if you want to see an iPhone working underwater, then watch the video.

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

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Powerbag at CES Unveiled

Posted by Andrew at 1:27 PM on January 17, 2012

Powerbag logoDan from Powerbag shows off the latest in geek fashion, a messenger bag that has a built-in battery and charging system. Up to four different devices can be charged in the bag at the same time. Included are a selection of charging tips, including the Apple connector and USB variants. The battery capacity should charge a smartphone several times, or a tablet once.

Available now for $139 to $249 for a rolling bag with a bigger battery.

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

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Griffin Gets Gadgets On The Go

Posted by Andrew at 1:35 AM on January 13, 2012

Griffin has a great range of accessories for all kinds of smartphones, MP3 players and tablets, so it’s no surprise that they’ve a few additions to their product range here at CES. This year they’re announcing a two in-car mounts, some power solutions and a mount for air travellers.

First up, if you have a car that has an aux port (3.5 mm socket), then the WindowsSeat 3 Handsfree is the windshield or dashboard mount for your vehicle. It comes with combined aux cable and microphone that that can be used to make handsfree phone calls and stream music/navigation commands through the car speakers. WindowSeat’s mounting cradle holds iPods or iPhones in most shell- or skin-type cases, as well as a similar sized MP3 players and smartphones, including popular models from BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Price is $39.99 and available now.

Griffin AirCurve

If you don’t have  an aux jack, the AirCurve Window Mount is the alternative. This windshield mount is designed as an acoustic amplifier which can raise the volume by as much as 25 dB without any batteries or cables. Designed for the iPhone 4 / 4S, simply put the smartphone in speakerphone mode and chat away. Price is also $39.99 and available now.

Griffin’s PowerBlock range has been updated with new models –  PowerBlock Reserve, $59.99, a wall charger for iPod and iPhone that can be plugged into any AC wall outlet to provide a quick boost of power that also has a built-in rechargeable 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack for charging on the go. The PowerBlock Reserve Universal, $49.99, is the same concept but quickly charges any USB device. Both models charge their own batteries at the same time they’re charging connected devices, which is often not the case with competing models. A row of LEDs serve as a power gauge, indicating how much charge is left.

Finally, Griffin is bringing a new product to the market in Q2 of 2012 with a Tray Table Latch Mount. Specifically for the air and rail traveller, the mount is designed to be compatible with 90% of the world’s airline and commuter rail tray table latches and holds your eReader, tablet or smartphone at eye level for comfortable viewing. Very handy.

Pop round to Griffin in North Hall, Booth 5212 at CES 2012 in Las Vegas to see all their latest goodies or you can checked out the dedicated CES section of their website.

PowerSkin Charges Smartphones and Portable Gamers

Posted by Andrew at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2012

At CES International 2012, PowerSkin has announced new portable power solutions for smartphones and other rechargeable devices. SolarCharge, Key Charge and Gaming Skins are all designed to keep the mobile user going for longer.

PowerSkins SolarChargeThe SolarCharge is a universal charger for all types of smartphone including iPhone, Android and Blackberry, and it comprises a 1000 mAh battery paired with a solar panel in a one-piece housing. The SolarCharge recharges smartphones (and other devices) via a supplied micro-USB connector and other connectors are available for non-standard devices. The battery in the SolarCharge itself is recharged via USB from a PC, via a micro-USB mains charger or from the sun through the solar panel, so there are plenty of options for the mobile user. The blue rubberised skin has embedded LEDs to show the battery’s charge level.

PowerSkins KeyChargeThe KeyCharge has a smaller capacity at 750 mAh and is intended for a quick boost rather than a full recharge. Small enough to fit on a keychain, the KeyCharge only comes with a micro-USB connector and consequently is not suitable for use with iPhones or iPods. Two variants are available to cater for the different positions of the micro-USB connector on smartphones, i.e. side or bottom. As with the SolarCharge, the KeyCharge is recharged via a micro-USB connector, either from a PC or from a mains adaptor.

Also on display at CES will be PowerSkin’s Gaming Skins for iOS and Nintendo 3DS, which were announced in December 2011, along with an array of battery-boosting smartphone skins for all the popular makes.

PowerSkins

PowerSkin’s SolarCharge, $69.99, and KeyCharge, $24.99, will both be available beginning February on www.Power-Skin.com. Visit PowerSkin’s booth at the Hilton Suites, Booth # 28-128.

Vivick Anti-Theft Backpack Debuts at CES

Posted by Andrew at 5:06 AM on December 20, 2011

Vivick LogoThe theft of mobile electronic devices has become increasingly attractive as the value of gadgets rises and the economy falls. A particularly easy way to steal is to simply open likely-looking backpacks and rucksacks while they’re being worn and remove the gadgetry without the owner noticing. Sometimes the pack can be unzipped quietly, other times it’s cut open with a knife or scissors. A skilled thief can do this while someone is walking along but more commonly it happens on trains and buses.

To defend against this thievery, Canadian firm Vivick will debut their new line of anti-theft backpacks at CES in January, comprising three bags constructed from an anti-slash military-grade gauge nylon with a combination lock built into the zipper tab. Each model is designed to look good while being sturdy and durable, and the carry straps are also strengthened.

Rifling through my satchel this morning, I found a laptop, a tablet, an MP3 player and a somewhat old smartphone (Palm Treo Pro). Even with this last item, the total value of the technology exceeds £1000 (or $1500), so this isn’t a purely theoretical risk.

Vivick is known for its professional electronic designs, having worked for Apple, Sony, Samsung and Dell to create accessories for their own product lines. Vivick has also worked with Aston Martin and Ferrari on interior automotive accessories. Based on these credentials, I’ll be very interested to see what they come up with at CES.

GQ’s Watches for 2012

Posted by Andrew at 2:24 PM on November 16, 2011

Time is the fire in which we burn” wrote Delmore Schwartz in Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day, but fortunately a good watch can make time’s passing a bit more bearable. I’d love to be a watch connoisseur, or rather, I’d love to have the money to be a watch connoisseur. However, in the absence of the cash, all I can do is peruse the likes of GQ’s Watch Guide 2012 which shows off over 90 great watches. Not all of them are costly with both Casio and Swatch appearing, but there are some eye-wateringly expensive models in the collection.

Regardless if you don’t know a tourbillon from from a touchpad or a complication from a compiler, the designs of some of these watches depart considerably from the two hands and 12 numbers model. Here are a few choice examples.

The  Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri is modelled on a pressure gauge. Quite what happens when the dial reaches 12:30, I’m not too sure, but it’s great for those of us who has an “ish” view of time.

Giuliano Mazzuoli Contagiri watch

The De Grisogono FG One is in similar vein, but I’m uncertain which is the minutes and which is the seconds, or which is the hour and which is the date!

De Grisogono FG One watch

This relatively inexpensive Diesel model can tell the time in four different time zones, with three analogue dials and one digital. Not sure why you’d need to…

Diesel Watch

The Longines 24 Hours dispenses with the usual 12 hour dial, replacing it with a 24 hour one. What looks like 6 o’clock on this watch is actually 12 noon. Very cool.

Longines 24 Hour Watch

The Girard Perregaux John Harrison commemorates William Harrison’s four-month journey from Portsmouth to Jamaica in 1761-2 to test his father John’s H4 chronometer, designed to calculate longitude at sea. Simply beautiful.

Girard Perregaux John Harrison watch

Enjoy looking at the rest of the watches in the article.

Ford and Gogo Add to Inflight Entertainment

Posted by Andrew at 12:33 AM on October 26, 2011

Ford logoTravelling by air can be pretty dull – you’re jammed into a metal tube with nowhere to go even if you could get out of your seat. Inflight entertainment has evolved from one or two screens for the whole cabin to multichannel personal media players in seat headrests, which certainly helps to alleviate the boredom. More recently and largely responding to the requests of business travellers, more and more flights now have Wi-Fi, bringing the Internet to your foldaway table, albeit usually at a price.

Gogo LogoIf you are lucky enough to be on a plane equipped with Gogo‘s inflight Wi-Fi connectivity, Ford has teamed up with Gogo to offer access to Ford’s Mustang Customizer and free access to Facebook for the rest of the flight. The Customizer is a notch above the usual car modelling websites where you can only change the colour of the paint and the interior trim. Starting out with Mustang V6, GT, Boss 302 or Shelby GT500, the Customizer lets you choose the exterior before tweaking under the hood and then placing the car in one of three backgrounds – dragway, cityscape or drive-in restaurant. Apparently there are over 78,791,049,216,000 combinations of vehicle to dream up.

Once you’ve got the car of your dreams, the picture can be downloaded as a background or posted to Facebook and entered into contests to see who has the best car. If you’ve cash to match, you can get a .pdf pricing out the components you’ve chosen.

We are really excited to give Gogo users a chance to customize their very own Mustang while in flight,” added Brian McClary, emerging and social media specialist at Ford. “The Mustang Customizer has proven to be a great way for users to create their own Mustang and provides an interactive and immersive experience.

Definitely of interest to bored petrol heads, small boys and Facebook junkies. The special promotion starts 21 October, 2011 and ends 18 November, 2011

The Modern Space Race

Posted by Andrew at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2011

The Institute of Engineering and Technology’s monthly magazine always has plenty of tech articles and this month is no exception with a look at the different approaches to space flight being adopted by the US and Russia in Gateway to the Stars.

In the US, privateers are pushing forwards with the new Spaceport America in New Mexico, while the Russians continue with the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome. The pictures of the new spaceport under construction and Virgin Galactic craft contrast sharply with the utility of Baikonur. Obviously the sites are aiming at different markets, one consumer-led into sub-oribital flight, the other for ballistic launches, typically satellites and cargo runs to the ISS.

Picture courtesy of Virgin Galactic. The new spaceport terminal is the building under construction in the foreground.

The article also has some great trivia. Did you know that the nearest settlement to Spaceport America is called “Truth or Consequences” or that Baikonur Cosmodrome is actually 300 km from Baykonur so as to mislead the West? Or that the launch countdown to zero can be credited to Fritz Lang’s 1929 film “The Woman in the Moon”?

The London Underground but Overground

Posted by Andrew at 12:51 AM on September 14, 2011

The map of the London Underground is world famous for its linear representation of train stations and lines. It was created by Harry Beck in the 1930s and subsequently became the standard by which other metro and subway maps were designed. The map uses a simple set of rules to great advantage, such as coloured lines, stations equally spaced, lines can only go horizontally, vertically or diagonally, curves always have the same radius and so on. Here’s a small section of the map showing some of these features (the whole map is copyright Transport for London).

However, we’re now so used this particular version, that it’s easy to forget that it represents a physical geography. With a mashup of Google Maps and station co-ordinates, Jonathan Stott has put together a representation of the London Underground, showing where the underground lines are in the real world. The image below is just a screenshot – if you go over to his website, you can play with the map.

It’s interesting to see where the underground lines actually go but it’s also worth reflecting that this is exactly what Harry Beck was trying to get away from 80 years ago.

The Ultimate Hotel Room

Posted by Andrew at 12:00 AM on July 15, 2011

Longtime readers of GNC will recall that we sometimes divert from the path of pure geek to cover other interesting topics and there’s been a short series of strange hotels. We’ve had aircraft fuselages, boxes in the woods and undergrounds caverns. However, this has to be the ultimate hotel room at the Conrad Rangali Island Maldives Hotel, even if it is only temporary.

Normally, this underwater space is a dining room but to celebrate the restaurant’s 5th anniversary, it’s being converted into a luxury undersea bedroom for a limited period. It’s 5 m to the surface.