iLuv Wins With New Travel Gadgets

iLuv LogoiLuv will be familiar to many with their extensive range of matching accessories for tablets, smartphones and MP3 players. At CES this year, iLuv won no less than 5 CES Innovations Honoree awards to add to their collection of accolades. Todd gets a review of their latest products from Peter of iLuv.

The DreamTraveler is combined iPhone dock, USB charger and mains power strip squared aimed at those unfortunate souls who have to spend time in poorly equipped hotel rooms. It has two USB charging ports, three power outlets and an Apple connector for charging iPhones, iPods and iPads.

For the international traveller, iLuv has the RockWall, a dual USB charger that comes with the right mains plugs for different countries round the world.

Finally, the Mo’Beats is a portable tablet or smartphone cradle with Bluetooth wireless speakers that has a built-in lithium-ion battery which will run for about 4 hours.

All the products will be available in April or May. The Mo’Beats SRP is expected to be $89.99 but the website is currently showing $99.99. I think Peter gets his prices mixed up in the video as the RockWall is priced at $49.99 on the website and the DreamTraveler is $129.99.

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

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Take Control of Your Car with Mavia

Mavia DeviceTodd chats to Madison of Mavizon about their new Mavia automotive product which keeps tabs on your vehicle in more ways than one.

Mavia is a small box (see picture left) that plugs into your vehicle’s ODB-II port – that’s the connector used by technician’s to check on the car when there’s a problem. The Mavia combines readouts from this port with its own internal GPS receiver to provide location and technical information that is sent back to an online hub at www.mymavia.comAndroid and iPhone client apps can be downloaded too.

The MyMavia hub will show data on the vehicle such as gas mileage and distance to next service, plus any diagnostic error codes. MyMavia can interpret some of the diagnostic codes and it enables the owner to consult other resources, online or otherwise, to find out more on what’s wrong with the car. MyMavia incorporates location services too, showing where the vehicle is on Google Maps and there are connections to social sites like Foursquare.

The Mavia is in a beta testing phase so pricing is not confirmed but is expected to be around $200. The device will be available from retail outlets later in the year and requires no special fitting; it’s a self-install.

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

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The Zagg Sparq Portable Power at CES

Zagg LogoZagg’s protective films are popular “first purchases” for new smartphone owners and but Zagg offer other products in the mobile working space. Todd chats to Nate from Zagg to about the Zagg Sparq, a portable rechargeable battery pack.

The Sparq is mains charged, with two front-facing USB ports to recharge any  portable device with a USB-type connector. The internal battery has sufficient capacity to recharge four times the average smartphone. Perfect for when you’re on the road.

Available now for $99.99 from Zagg online with free shipping.

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

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Zagg HZO – Waterproofing for Electronics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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