Victim of Bad Timing, Sol Republic Pulls ‘Headphone Shootout’ from 2013 CES

“In light of Friday’s tragic event, we are updating the venue for our CES press event.
We are deeply saddened and our thoughts remain with the families
of all those affected during this time.” — Sol Republic

* * *

The 2013 International CES, the nation’s largest consumer electronics trade show, doesn’t arrive in Las Vegas until next month, but the effects of the Dec. 14 grade-school mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., have already reached forward and caused headphone maker Sol Republic to cancel a press event which would have been staged at a gun range.

Sol Republic, maker of fashionable and customizable headphones, had scheduled a Jan. 6 media-only event in which the press would have been invited to The Range 702, which bills itself as “the largest indoor shooting facility in Nevada.”

Note: Original invite: Press event will NOT be held at the gun range.

Original invite to Sol Republic “headphone shootout” event. The press preview will no longer be held at the gun range out of respect for those affected by Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The event, booked long before the Dec. 14 mass shooting, would have included a preview of Sol Republic’s upcoming audio products and a chance for attendees to take target practice with the chance to win Sol Republic headphones.

Unfortunately the invite arrived in journalists’ email inboxes on Dec. 14 just as news was breaking that 26 people, including 20 children, had been shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. by a gunman who later committed suicide. Sol Republic soon decided that a gun range event even weeks after the mass shooting wouldn’t be appropriate.

In a short email circulated Dec. 17, Sol Republic’s press agency said the company would still hold a media event at CES, but at a different, yet undecided location.

The 2013 International CES (formerly called the International Consumer Electronics Show) officially runs from Jan. 8 to 11, but will be preceded by two press-only days. During a November press preview, Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the show, said the show would feature more than 3,000 exhibitors. He added that based on early registrations, attendance was “on track” to match last year’s 153,000 attendees.

Copyright 2012, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
http://www.paperpc.com, info@paperpc.com

Retro Tech: Gadget Gifts Go Back to the Future

VTech Cordless Answering System LS6195

VTech Cordless Answering System LS6195

Back when all phones were wired and controlled by the old AT&T, the standing joke was that you could get a phone in any color you wanted
—as long as you chose black.

Today the seemingly clunky handsets attached to those old phones have made a comeback as colorful cell phone accessories and other retro-looking gadgets are making significant inroads onto holiday gift-shopping lists.

Native Union Pop Phone wired handset.

Native Union Pop Phone wired handset.

For example, Native Union’s Pop Phone handsets resemble the ones that graced grandpa’s rotary-dial phone but Pop Phones come in an assortment of colors—including black. The $30 wired handsets plug into any cell phone or tablet with a standard 3.5mm headset/microphone jack.

Unlike today’s skinny cell phones, the Pop Phone handsets fit comfortably between the chin and shoulder. A single button picks up and drops cell phone calls or pauses and plays music on MP3 players. The Pop Phone is also available in special editions and wireless versions.

Everything ION Tourmaline Infused Silicone Retro Bluetooth Handset

Everything ION Tourmaline Infused Silicone Retro Bluetooth Handset

The Everything ION Tourmaline Infused Silicone Retro Bluetooth Handset ditches the wire, but easily links with most Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and tablets. In addition to a call pickup/end button, the $50 handset has a volume control rocker button and an LED to confirm the Bluetooth connection. According to the company, the use of a wireless handset keeps potentially harmful radiation away from your head and the tourmaline-infused silicone can “stimulate the healthy flow of vital energy throughout your body.”

The VTech Cordless Answering System LS6195 (pictured at top, starts at $60) is a modern landline phone with a distinctively retro feature: The keypad is arranged in a circle like an old-style rotary dial. The slim cordless handset, which uses DECT 6.0 digital wireless technology, has its own display and backlit keypad and can be used as a speakerphone.

The base, which can also be used a speakerphone, has a small display inside the circular keypad. The unit’s digital answering system can save up to 14 minutes of voice mail and the Caller ID memory can store up to 50 numbers.

palbtgb_angle

Tivoli Audio PAL BT Bluetooth portable radio

Tivoli Audio, best known for its venerable Model One table radio with its huge analog tuning wheel, now offers the $300 PAL BT, an innocent-looking, digital-display-free portable AM/FM radio with a modern feature: Bluetooth connectivity. The PAL BT can wirelessly stream music from the many cell phones and other mobile devices compatible with the Bluetooth 2.1+EDR standard.

The Tivoli Audio PAL BT has a single 2.5-inch speaker, three analog knobs, including the trademark large analog tuning wheel, a preinstalled rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery pack, a headphone jack and an audio-in jack for wired devices. Pairing the unit with a mobile device is no different that pairing a Bluetooth headset with a cell phone—it only has to be done once. A $260 Bluetooth version of the Model One (pictured below) is also available.

Tivoli Audio Model One Bluetooth Table Radio

Tivoli Audio Model One Bluetooth Table Radio

Radio Silenz cherry

Tivoli Audio Radio Silenz noise-cancelling headphones

Tivoli Audio also offers the $160 Radio Silenz noise-canceling headset, which exudes a retro look through its liberal use of wood. The 2.6-ounce headset uses two 40mm drivers with housings made of solid wood in walnut, cherry or black ash finishes.

According to Tivoli Audio, the unit’s noise-cancelling technology reduces extraneous noise by up to 85 per cent. A “defeat” button turns off the noise cancellation and reduces the volume so users can have conversations without taking the headset off.

So what will tomorrow’s hot gadgets look like? Look around your home and get a preview.

Text  Copyright 2012
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

3M Streaming Projector Powered by Roku: Potent Palm-Size Entertainment Center

3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku.

Internet video in your living room without the TV or the Internet box? That’s what 3M and Roku announced Friday as the companies introduced the 3M Streaming Projector Powered by Roku, a tiny, but potent portable projector which wirelessly streams Internet video content at projection sizes up to 120 inches. The battery-powered unit pulls in content from Roku’s 600-plus channels without the need for a TV or one of Roku’s standalone devices.

Mark Colin, vice president and general manager of the 3M Mobile Interactive Solutions Division, shows off the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku.

The $299 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku comes with a removable Roku Streaming Stick, a USB-flash-drive-size device with a built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking adapter, Roku software and an MHL (mobile high-definition link) port. The Roku Streaming Stick allows the projector to access content from online services such as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and Netflix.

“It’s everything you expect from a Roku platform,” said Chas Smith, Roku’s senior vice president and general manager of its platform OEM business. “The big thing about Roku is the simplicity.”

The one-pound unit has a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides up to two hours and 45 minutes of video playback, thus making it possible to show videos wherever you can find a Wi-Fi connection–even outdoors.

The device comes with a small infrared remote control, but for about $20 you can purchase the Roku Game Remote, an enhanced Wi-Fi remote with an accelerometer, which allows you to play interactive games such as Angry Birds on the big screen. By utilizing a Wi-Fi Direct connection, the unit can also stream images and videos from compatible cell phone and other mobile devices. Of course you can use the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku as a standard projector and connect it to a laptop or other device via an HDMI cable.

At a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels and with a 60-lumen brightness rating, the image from the unit, although clear and sharp, doesn’t compare to that of much more expensive plasma or LCD HDTVs. The unit’s performance is best in low-light situations such as a darkened basement as opposed to a brightly sunlit room. The unit has an internal speaker, but a headphone jack is included for external speakers.

Mark Colin of 3M (left) and Roku’s Chas Smith explain the features of the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku at New York press conference.

The 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku is now available for pre-order exclusively from Amazon. The first units will be delivered to customers on or about Oct. 22.

Text and photos Copyright 2012
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

Starbucks Verismo Coffee System: Hot, Steamy Technology with a Little Milk

Starbucks Director of Research and Development Paul Camera makes a cup of espresso with the $200 Verismo 580.

It’s rare when you hear the words “milk” and “technology” uttered in the same sentence, but that’s what Paul Camera, director of research and development for Starbucks, did as the company rolled out the Verismo System, its new line of premium one-cup-at-a-time home coffee and espresso brewers. At a launch event in New York, Camera and other Starbucks representatives showed off the $200 Verismo 580 and the larger $400 Verismo 585, which adds an LED readout, temperature control and other features. Both units can brew a cup of coffee in about 15 seconds.

The Verismo brewers use small coffee, espresso and milk pods that insert neatly into a slot at the top. Making coffee is as simple as adding water to the tank at the back of the Verismo units, inserting the pod into the Verismo, lowering a large lever and pushing a button. In practice the brewing process was quick and fairly quiet.

The $400 Starbucks Verismo 585.

Verismo System espresso pods.

Aside from developing systems that could deliver the right amount of water at the right temperature and pressure, a lot of the high-tech work in developing the Verismo System went into the milk, said Camera. He said the perfecting a dry milk pod with pure milk that could survive a year on the shelf took a bit of research and experimentation. He said the Verismo units are designed to rehydrate and heat milk without scalding it, thus ensuring a good-tasting latte.

Verismo 580 with coffee, espresso and milk pods.

The Verismo-compatible pods will sell for $12 per 12-pack, a Caffe Latte box including eight espresso pods and eight milk pods will sell for $13 while a 12-pack of milk pods will be priced at $10. The coffee selection includes Veranda, House Blend, Pike Place Roast and Caffe Verona while the espresso choices include Espresso Guatemala, Espresso Roast and Decaf Espresso Roast.

The Verismo units will be sold at stores such as Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma and will be sold at Starbucks stores starting Oct. 16.

Text, images and video Copyright 2012 Robert S. Anthony,

Stadium Circle Features, info@paperpc.com

Amazon’s New Kindle Fire HD Family: Take That Apple iPad!

Kindle Fire HD 8.9

Not many companies can make Apple sweat, but Amazon has just turned up the heat with the new Kindle Fire HD tablet/ereader family: The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD ($199 with 16GB of storage; $249 with 32GB), the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD 8.9 ($299 with 16GB; $369 with 32GB) and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 4G LTE Wireless ($499 with 16GB; $599 with 32GB).

The classic 7-inch Kindle Fire, which recently sold out on Amazon.com, is back in the Kindle lineup with a faster processor, more memory and a really cool new feature: A lower $159 price tag.

New 7-inch Kindle Fire HD in portrait and landscape orientation.

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, which has a better display, more storage space and Dolby stereo audio but the same $199 starting price as the old Kindle Fire, is available for preorder now and will be in stores Sept. 14. The other models will be available Nov. 20.

As a family, the new color Kindle HD units are poised to make a huge impact in three key tech sales areas: the affordable entry-level tablet market, the muscle Wi-Fi tablet segment and in the do-it-all-always-connected-big-tablet competition. Apple may have something interesting in the works as it rolls out a new iPad or two this fall, but for now Amazon has delivered a stunning first punch to the 2012 holiday-season tablet market.

Aside from HD displays, the new Kindle HD units have two Wi-Fi MIMO (Multiple In/Multiple Out) antennas, which means that both antennas can receive data simultaneously on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks, thus resulting in better wireless Internet reception, according to Amazon.

Also included in the new units are front-facing cameras, a custom version of Skype videoconferencing software, free unlimited cloud storage for Kindle media, Bluetooth wireless adapters for wireless headsets, speakers and other accessories and an HDMI out port.

With a starting price of $299, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is far more affordable than the least expensive Apple iPad, but offers an admirable array of features, including its 1,920-by-1,200-pixel, 254-pixel-per-inch IPS display and a 1.5 GHz, dual-core processor. It has the same look as the smaller Kindle HD, which has a 1.2GHz processor, in terms of its dark case and thick border around the display area.

The Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE Wireless offers the same features of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 plus high speed always-on LTE data service at a very competitive price: $50 a year for 250MB a month data, 20GB of additional cloud storage and a $10 Amazon app store credit.

Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said at the company’s Kindle press conference that Amazon was willing to lose money on hardware since it could make up the loss selling content in the Kindle Store.

The new Kindle units can take advantage of new Amazon content services, including Kindle FreeTime, which lets parents set time limits on content for their children. FreeTime will be available in October.

Also introduced Thursday were other Kindle devices, including two monochrome devices using new Kindle display technology:  the $119 Kindle Paperwhite and the $179 Kindle Paperwhite 3G.

Of course the best feature about all Kindle devices is easy access to Amazon’s huge arsenal of ebooks, audiobooks, MP3 music downloads, Android apps and other downloadable media. Amazon tries to make things easy on technophobes by providing a simple interface.

At Thursday’s unveiling in Santa Monica, California, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos readily admitted that Amazon was willing to lose money on hardware since it could make up the loss with content sales from its Kindle store.

In boxing, the best punch is often the one you get off just ahead of your opponent: Even if it doesn’t floor him, you have his attention. Apple, are you listening?

Images and video courtesy of Amazon.

Text © Copyright 2012

Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

info@paperpc.net

Motorola Sharpens Droid RAZR Lineup with RAZR HD, RAZR MAXX HD and RAZR M

Motorola Droid RAZR HD

Motorola tried to snatch the smartphone headlines from Apple and Samsung Wednesday by introducing three robust additions to its Android lineup: The muscle-bound Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD and the affordable, but still power-packed Droid RAZR M.

The Droid RAZR M, which has a 4.3-inch display, is available now for $100 when purchased with a two-year service plan. No specific dates or prices were announced for the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD, which have 4.7-inch screens. All come with 1.5 GHz dual-core processors, 1 GB of RAM and front- and rear-facing HD-video-capable cameras. [Update: The Droid RAZR HD is now available for $200 and the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is $300, in both cases when purchased with a two-year service plan.]

“I’m here to tell you that the new Motorola starts today,” said Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola Mobility, now a part of Google. “In many ways, Google and Motorola have only just begun.”

Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside talks to the press as the image of Martin Cooper, who led the Motorola team which invented the mobile phone in 1973, looms behind him. Cooper was in attendance at the New York press event.

Motorola’s three new RAZR models offer 4G data speeds via the LTE network from Verizon Wireless, long-lasting batteries and are the first to ship with Google’s Chrome for Android Web browser, which has a handful of finger-friendly features.

For example, to switch between tabs on Chrome you simply swipe your finger from one side of the screen to the other. A swipe to the side also gets rid of a tab while you’re looking at a group of them. Users also have the option of synchronizing bookmarks with Chrome browsers on other devices. Unlike the standard Android Web browser, Chrome has no limits on the number of tabs you can have open at once.

According to Motorola, the Super AMOLED displays on the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD have 78 per cent more pixels than the original DROID RAZR, resulting in a sharper, smoother-looking display. The key difference is that the Droid RAZR HD, available in black or white, comes with a lithium-ion battery which provides 24 hours of battery life while the thicker RAZR MAXX HD (black only) has a larger battery which promises 32 hours of phone use per charge.

Droid RAZR M

The Droid RAZR M, which is available in black or white, has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen and a narrow bezel, which allows it to offer the same size screen as phones with larger bodies, including the original Droid RAZR. Its 2,000 mAH battery provides 20 hours of battery life, according to Motorola. The new RAZR phones also offer power-management controls that can further enhance battery life.

Like its larger siblings, the Droid RAZR M has an 8-megapixel camera on the back but has a lower-resolution, 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera while the other two new RAZR models have 1.3-megapixel front cameras.

During a demonstration at Wednesday’s press event a Droid RAZR HD unit provided remarkably sharp and smooth HD video playback even with bright ambient light. As expected, the new RAZR models are thin. The RAZR M comes in just under a third of an inch, the RAZR HD is just over a third of an inch thick and the RAZR MAXX HD is slightly fatter at 0.37 inches thick.

Woodside noted that not only will all of  the new RAZR phones be upgraded from Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) to Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) later this year, but added that all Motorola smartphones capable of handling the new software will get it as well. Owners of Motorola smartphones that can’t be upgraded to Jelly Bean can get a $100 credit toward a new phone, he said.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the Motorola RAZR product launch in New York.

“They really shouldn’t be called smartphones, they should be called mobile computers,” said Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who led off the press event.

How will the new RAZR entries compete with the Samung Galaxy S3, the current and future Apple iPhone and recent entries from Nokia, LG, HTC and others? The holiday shopping season will provide the answer soon enough.

Text, video and images © Copyright 2012

Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

info@paperpc.net

LooxcieLive: Walk, Talk and Stream Live Video from Smartphone to Facebook

Mock-up of new Looxcie for Facebook App

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own TV network, Looxcie has an app for you. As of this morning, you can download the revised version of LooxcieLive, a free smartphone/tablet app which lets you stream live video from your device’s front or back camera straight to your friends who are using the same app.

No app? No problem. In a few days a new Looxcie App for Facebook will allow anyone who can access Facebook to view your live videos or those broadcast on Looxcie’s public user channels.

LooxcieLive smartphone and tablet app

LooxcieLive, available for Android 2.1-plus and Apple iOS 5.0-plus devices, is compatible with front or rear cameras on smartphones or tablets. Not only does the app let you speak to your viewers, but viewers with LooxcieLive on their own smartphones can talk back. They can use a push-to-talk button or can send text messages to the videographer.

The introduction of LooxcieLive means that you no longer need one of Looxcie’s lightweight, wearable video cameras to broadcast live videos via a smartphone app.

“If you don’t have a Looxcie [camera], you can still have a Looxcie experience,” said Jay Moore, vice president of marketing at Looxcie during a phone conference.

However, the Looxcie LX1 and Looxcie LX2 cameras have superior optics and offer better resolutions than most tablets and smartphones. The Looxcie cameras, which link with smartphones and tablets via Bluetooth, can be hung from an ear like a Bluetooth headset, clipped to a baseball cap, put on a tripod or otherwise used completely hands free.

“There’s still an advantage to using a Looxcie camera,” said Moore. “At a minimum we’re engaging new users.”

LooxcieLive

Videos streamed with the LooxcieLive app can be made private, where only invited friends can view them, or left public where anyone with the app or using the Looxcie for Facebook App can see them. The app allows users to send live broadcast notifications to Looxcie and Facebook friends.

The live streaming works over 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi connections, according to Looxcie, and videos are archived to the cloud, where they can be viewed later. The app supports a top streaming video resolution of 480p at up to 15 frames per second, so the result is not exactly HD-quality.

Moore noted that the app can be useful for citizen journalists or anyone who wants to make a simple broadcast that he can share.

“We definitely pride ourselves with trying to provide an easy experience for our customers,” said Moore.

Images courtesy of Looxcie.

Text © Copyright 2012
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
info@paperpc.net