Finger-flickin’ good? The new neyya Bluetooth smart ring is easy enough to use, but quite sophisticated inside. Users can tap or swipe its 25.5mm capacitive touchpad to start or end phone calls, click through PowerPoint presentations, launch Siri on an Apple iPhone, control music, control GoPro Hero or ROKU devices and perform other tasks. It can also be used for handsfree selfies.
The neyya is weather resistant and comes in three ring sizes and two colors (Gold, $179; Titanium-chrome, $139). The unit gives silent vibration feedback to alert users of incoming calls (or specific callers) and charges wirelessly. Free iOS, Android and Windows apps are or will be available soon.
The Roost 9V Smart Battery takes an existing smoke or CO2 detector and makes it “smart” enough to send alerts to a smartphone. The $35 lithium Roost is the same size as a standard 9V battery, but has a Wi-Fi adapter on the bottom which links to a home network. If the alarm goes off, the Wi-Fi adapter wakes up and sends an alert through the cloud to all linked smartphones and tablets. A free app monitors the battery’s status and lets users share smoke-alarm alerts with friends and neighbors. A $65 Roost two-pack is also available.
Citizen journalists beware: There’s a new Android smartphone in town that’s slim, powerful and downright cheap and comes from a company you may not have even known was making smartphones: Asus.
Asus Zenfone 2 Android 5.0 smartphone.
At a crowded New York press conference Monday, Asus, better known for its PCs and tablets, showed off the new 5.-5-inch Asus Zenfone 2 Android 5.0 smartphone–a unit with plenty of photo and video features amateur and professional journalists and social media mavens might appreciate. And its phone and data features aren’t bad either.
Not only does the Zenfone 2 come with a powerful Intel Atom processor, a high-quality 13MP PixelMaster camera and sophisticated low-light technology, but it also comes with something one might not expect from an unlocked smartphone: an attractive price.
At $299 for an unlocked Zenfone 2 with 4GB of internal RAM, 64GB of storage and a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor or $199 for one with 2MB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 1.8 GHz Atom Z3560 processor, the Zenfone 2 is significantly cheaper than unlocked flagship smartphones like the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4.
Asus Zenfone 2 colors and finishes.
At 4GB of RAM, the $299 Zenfone 2 also has more built-in memory for running programs than the iPhone 6 Plus, which gets away with 1GB of RAM by running memory-effiicient iOS 8, and Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 (3GB) and LG G4 (3GB).
The slim Zenfone 2 has a 1920-by-1,080-pixel 5.5-inch display and a 13MP rear camera which can—with a little software magic—capture 52MP images. The camera’s F2.0 lens, combined with special low-light and backlight modes, make it possible to capture clear images dark conditions without turning on the flash.
Asus Lolliflash external LED flash.
Speaking of flash, a cute, but useful photo accessory is the Asus Lolliflash, a small, bright LED light that pops into the headset jack and provides additional lighting for nearby objects.
Also notable is the Zenfone 2’s fast charger, which switches between a fast-charging 9-volt, 2-amp mode to a standard 5-volt, 2-amp mode as needed. With the charger, a 10-minute charge provides 4 hours of 2G talk time or 2.7 hours of 3G talk time, according to Asus.
Asus Chairman Jonney Shih touts Zenfone 2’s Super Resolution mode.
The Zenfone 2 can handle two active SIM cards at the same time—a useful feature for overseas travelers. One SIM can handle up to 4G data speeds while the second card handles only 2G data speeds.
ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih introduces Zenfone 2 to New York media.
Asus Chairman Jonney Shih, who hosted the press event, said the Zenfone 2 was well-suited for impatient, get-it-done-now New Yorkers. The Zenfone 2 went on sale Tuesday at numerous online and retail outlets.
There are many ways to miss a flight, but a dead cell phone shouldn’t be one of them.
Unfortunately, new TSA security regulations for some foreign airports require that cell phones and other electronic devices be turned on while going through security. Devices that cannot power on won’t be allowed on flights. This rule doesn’t currently affect domestic U.S. flights; just some incoming international flights from certain destinations.
Innovative Technology Justin Slim Power Bank
One way to avoid such hassles is to travel with an external battery–one that connects with your phone or tablet via a standard USB cable. As long as you keep these portable power banks charged, you’ll always be able to give your device enough juice to power up and get through security. The good news is that many power banks are slim, stylish and inexpensive.
When shopping, keep an eye on a battery’s milliampere-hour (mAh) rating, which gives you an idea of which devices it can charge and how long it can keep them going. For example, Innvovative Technology estimates that its Justin-brand 2,000 mAh power banks provide enough power to add nine hours of talk and web surfing time to a smartphone and its 6,000 mAh units will increase smartphone time an extra 27 hours or add five hours of web, audio and video time to a tablet. For the sake of comparison, note that the internal battery of an Apple iPhone 5s is rated at 1,560 mAh.
Moonstone power banks from Lepow (photo at top) are encased in smooth, polished plastic and come in an assortment of colors and power capacities. Moonstones comes in 3,000 mAh, 6,000 mAh and 9,000 mAh versions and provide two USB ports: one standard and one higher-powered, fast charge port. Thus you could charge a smartphone on one port and a tablet on the other. Moonstones are roughly three inches square but vary in thickness.
The Duracell Powermat GoPower Overnighter charges smartphones and tablets with a standard USB cable, but the unit itself can be charged via an AC adapter or computer USB port or wirelessly by placing it on a Duracell or compatible wireless hotspot or charging station. The 4,400 mAh battery has a single USB port and comes precharged for immediate use.
The affordable, yet sophisticated Motorola Moto X succeeds in making life with a smartphone as simple, colorful and touch-free as possible, but until recently it stumbled with one of the most basic of all cell phone accessories: wired headsets with microphones.
Fortunately, a new Moto X system software update cleans up the glitch, allowing these headsets to work as they should. The free update is now being pushed out to AT&T and T-Mobile handsets. Moto X owners can wait for the notification screen to pop up or scroll through the phone’s settings to the “About Phone” section, where they can manually initiate the update.
When a Moto X with the original system software was tested with apps such as Skype and voice recorders, it often failed to recognize wired headsets with built-in mics. The earpieces would go silent and the mics wouldn’t transmit audio.
To see if your Moto X still has the original system software, download Skype and try this: Plug a wired headset with a mic to your Moto X and make a voice call to the “Echo/Sound Test Service” entry that’s preinstalled as a contact in Skype. Once connected, try to listen to the automated recording and try to record your voice when prompted.
If you have the original system software, you won’t hear and thing and won’t be able to make the recording. Try the call again without the headset–Skype should work fine. Skype and Motorola public relations representatives were contacted for comment about the wired headset problems; neither responded.
The wired headsets used for testing included Audiofly AF45 and Lenovo 57Y4488 earbuds and a Native Union Pop Phone handset. The above problems were limited to wired headsets with mics–they did not occur with wired headsets without mics or with wireless Bluetooth headsets.
The wired headset problems were ironic since the Moto X, which has three built-in microphones, actually works very well with voice-activated apps such as Google Now since one of the mics is used for noise cancellation. With the new software update, the Moto X becomes an even better value.
Overall, the Moto X is a remarkable smartphone with good looks–which can be customized–and quality high-end features like a sharp, 4.7-inch display and a 10-megapixel camera. (Click here for full review).
Text and photos Copyright 2013, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
Motorola’s Moto X smartphone is an admirable balance of style and usability. It doesn’t try to outdo Samsung, Apple and others in the race to squeeze in as many high-tech features as possible but instead aims to please with its hand-shaped curves, cool voice-activated features and touch-friendly camera.
The Moto X succeeds as a sophisticated mainstream smartphone but is no speed demon. Its user-friendliness and simplicity are apparent from the start: Instead of a cluttered home screen, the Moto X offers pretty much a plain vanilla Android home screen that allows the new owner do the customizing. And that’s not surprising since Motorola Mobility is now a division of Google, the maker of Android software.
To start the camera, you pick up the phone and twist your wrist twice–that’s it; the Moto X immediately switches to camera mode. To take a photo you can touch any part of the screen–there’s no need to hunt for a shutter button. The Moto X’s 10-megapixel camera uses Motorola’s ClearPixel technology, which allows each sensor to gather 75 percent more light, thus making it possible to get clear photos even in low-light situations. according to Motorola.
The Moto X can be customized with numerous color combinations for its keys and shell (including an all wood case available later this year) by ordering the unit via the Moto X website, which only offers AT&T units at the moment. Since the Moto X is manufactured in Fort Worth, Texas instead of somewhere overseas, online buyers can expect to see their new phones–already initialized with their Google accounts–in four days or less, according to Motorola.
Motorola’s Moto X can be ordered in a variety of color combinations.
“We think this represents a very interesting future,” said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president for product development at Motorola during a press event in New York. He said the Moto X is aimed at “the mainstream user,” not the feature-frenzied geek.
Rear of Motorola Moto X.
The Moto X uses what computing power it has fairly efficiently. It runs Android version 4.2.2 and has a dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor. Other top-shelf smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 have quad-core processors, but they also have more sensors and higher-resolution screens, making the additional processor muscle necessary.
The low-power Active Display mode on Motorola’s Moto X.
The Moto X is built with what’s called the Motorola X8 computing system. It’s a set of eight processor cores assigned to different tasks. Why is this important? By using different cores for different tasks, the entire processor doesn’t have to be awake all the time–each core wakes up as it’s needed. This design extends the life of the Moto X’s 2200 mAH battery to a full day of average use, according to Motorola.
Two of the processor cores are used for basic application processing (this is what makes the Moto X a “dual-core” smartphone) and four are used for graphics processing, thus speeding up video and photo functions. The other two cores take care of voice commands and sensors like the accelerometer and the ambient light sensor and help the Moto X detect how fast you’re moving and what you’re doing with the phone.
When tested with voice commands, the Moto X worked very well and was able to verbally answer questions about the time, the weather, directions, baseball scores and many other queries. The quality of the speech detection is aided by the phone’s three microphones, which work together to cancel stray noises and enhance voices.
A useful Active Display shows notifications in a simple, low-power mode, thus letting you know if you have incoming e-mail, text messages or other items even when the phone is in standby mode.
The Moto X lists for $199 (16GB of user memory) or $249 (32GB) with a two-year plan and is sold by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular and major retailers.
Do you have a Moto X? How do you like it so far? Comment or vote:
Text and photos Copyright 2013, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
The number of followers on my Paper PC Picks hot products board on Pinterest now rivals that of major tech websites such as Mashable and The Verge.
I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’m quite proud of the CNET story on how I amassed 1.2 million followers on Pinterest. My Paper PC Picks board on Pinterest has proven to be an excellent vehicle for quickly posting short stories on new gadgets that I see at press conferences and trade shows.