Paper PC Picks – Holiday 2015: neyya Smart Ring

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neyya Smart Rings

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.

©Copyright 2015, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

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Don’t Get Stopped at the Gate: Keep Some Power in Your Pocket

Lepow Moonstone External Battery

Lepow Moonstone External Batteries

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

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.

Powerocks Magicstick

Powerocks Magicstick

Innovative Technology’s Justin Slim Power Bank barely makes an impression in a jacket pocket but has enough room inside for a 2,000 mAh battery. Four LEDs let you know how much of a charge it has left.

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.

Also colorful and stylish are the Magicstick power banks from Powerocks USA. The purse-size small cylinders house a 2,800 mAh battery and come in a choice of eight colors.

Champ Bodyguard Battery Rechargeable Power Bank

The Champ Bodyguard Power Bank includes a personal alarm and a flashlight.

The Champ Bodyguard Battery Rechargeable Power Bank adds a flashlight and a personal alarm siren to its capabilities as a 2,200 mAh lithium ion portable battery.

Some coffee shops and restaurants, like the ones in New York’s Madison Square Garden and a few Starbucks locations in Boston, now offer wireless charging hotspots built into some of their tables. Place a compatible smartphone or battery on the right spot and the device will charge up without wires.

Duracell Powermat GoPower Overnighter

Duracell Powermat GoPower Overnighter

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.

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Rayovac 2-Hour Power Pack

Rayovac’s inexpensive 2-Hour Power Pack doesn’t even need a USB cable. The small unit has a built-in micro USB port and plugs directly into your smartphone. Instead of a built in rechargeable battery, it uses a removable Rayovac CR123a battery, which you may be able to find at an airport electronics stores should your unit run down at the wrong time. A similar version with a connector for the iPhone 4S and earlier iPhones is also available.

Like the Lepow Moonstone, the Anker 2nd Gen Astro series chargers can charge two devices at the same time via two USB ports. Anker’s PowerIQ technology in the 2nd Gen Astro (6,000 mAh), Astro2 (9,000 mAh) and Astro3 (12,000 mAh) identifies the device connected to each intelligent USB port and adjusts the charging current accordingly.

Anker Astro

Anker 2nd Gen Astro

The Anker 2nd Gen Astro series units lack buttons: To wake them up you simply shake them. A circular power readout lets you know how much of a charge is left inside.

Of course none of the above power banks will do you much good at the airport security gate or anywhere else unless you remember to charge them regularly. So power up and happy travels.

 Text © Copyright 2014, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

No Foul! Wireless Charging Hotspots Coming to Madison Square Garden

iPhone with Duracell Powermat wireless charging sleeve next to wireless charging hotspot.

Duracell Powermat to install wireless charging hotspots in restaurants, bars and luxury boxes in the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”

If you remember the Patrick Ewing-era New York Knicks, you know they were tough enough to take a hard charge now and then for the team. In a few weeks you’ll be able to get a charge yourself–wirelessly and without the pain—courtesy of Duracell Powermat.

Duracell Powermat booth at the 2012 CES.

The company announced at last week’s 2012 CES in Las Vegas that it has been tapped by Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, to install wireless charging hotspots around the Manhattan arena.

If you have a iPhone or other smartphone or mobile device and you outfit it with a wireless charging sleeve, which will be sold at the Garden as well as at major electronics stores, you’ll be able to give your device a charge while it sits in front of you as you dine or drink or gently air your opinion about the officiating of the game below.

Mockup of Garden suite with wireless charging hotspot at 2102 CES in Las Vegas.

The Duracell Powermat wireless charging sleeves as well as those already available from companies such as Energizer adhere to a wireless charging standard named “Qi,” developed by the Wireless Power Consortium, which showed off a wealth of Qi-compatible devices at the 2012 CES. This means that any Qi-compatible sleeve will work with the hotspots at the Garden–not just those made by Duracell Powermat.

Wireless Power Consortium shows off Qi-compatible devices at 2012 CES.

An upcoming Duracell Powermat smartphone app will not only tell you how much power is left in your device, but it will also direct you to the nearest wireless charging hotspot.

If you use the app while you’re sitting in the Garden, you can use your phone’s camera to scan the arena and, through the magic of “augmented reality,” the app will generate pointers in the image to show you where the hotspots are.

Duracell Powermat smartphone app previewed at the 2012 CES in Las Vegas.

The new inductive charging stations will appear first in the Event Level Suites, which were added as part of the first phase of a three-phase renovation of the Garden last year. Eventually they will pop up in the Garden’s Madison Suites, the Delta Sky360 Club and in the 1879 Club presented by J.P. Morgan.

Entertainer Jay-Z is the new spokesman for the new Duracell Powermat wireless charging initiative at the Garden, which is a little bit ironic since he is a part owner of the nearby rival New Jersey Nets—soon to be the even closer Brooklyn Nets. Duracell Powermat LLC is a joint venture of Procter & Gamble, parent company of Duracell, and Powermat.

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

Paper PC Picks: Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker

It’s time for another season of Paper PC Picks, a selection of nifty gadgets and other electronic gear that make quality gift selections for the holiday season. These innovative products are culled from the hundreds spotted at trade shows and press events and during one-on-one meetings with tech-company representatives. 

So let’s get started, in no particular order, with another season of Paper PC Picks.

The Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker looks glitzier than your average Bluetooth wireless speaker, but at hefty prices starting at $300, does it really sound that much better than its cheaper competition? The answer, after a few minutes with a few units, is an easy “Yes.”

The Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker can handle the rumble of deep bass and the clarity of sharp high notes even though it’s about the size of a large, thick hardcover book. The reason for the audiophile-quality output is the internal design, which was engineered to minimize distortion and other audio maladies. During a recent Bose press event in New York, the media got a chance to look at an exploded view of how the SoundLink units are put together.

For example, at the center of the exploded view above are two waffle-shaped passive radiators responsible for enhancing deep bass tones. They’re installed opposite each other, which cancels out the internal vibrations they would otherwise produce, thus allowing the energy they conduct to be used for clear bass, not internal rumble and rattle according to Bose.

Also built in are four neodymium transducers used for high and middle audio frequencies. According to Bose, the 5.1-by-9.6-by-1.9-inch SoundLink is durable and designed to withstand reasonable amounts of moisture, including salt fog, which makes it usable on the beach. The internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery runs up to eight hours on a two- to three-hour charge, according to Bose.

The point of the Bose SoundLink Wireless Speaker, according to the Bose representatives at the press event, is to produce the best possible mobile sound out of the audio locked inside smartphones, iPods, tablets or other Bluetooth-enabled devices. The unit has a solid feel to it, but isn’t heavy at 2.9 pounds.

The pairing process to connect the SoundLink to my smartphone wasn’t difficult. Within moments clear, rich music was emanating from the unit. While it will pair with many devices, they need to support the Bluetooth A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) to work with the SoundLink–or any other Bluetooth wireless speaker. The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, for example, doesn’t support A2DP even though it does have a Bluetooth wireless adapter and thus failed at my attempt to connect it to the SoundLink.

Like other Bluetooth products, you have a range of up to 30 feet between the speaker and the Bluetooth-enabled audio device. You can also connect an audio device via an audio cable. A USB port is provided for future firmware upgrades.

The $300 standard version of the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker comes with a fold-over dark gray Cordura nylon cover which doubles as a stand while the $350 LX version has a dark brown leather cover. Covers in other colors are available for $30 (nylon) and $50 (leather).

Expensive yes, but Bose doesn’t compete in the bargain audio market. If you’re picky about the quality of the music you listen to, the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker may be worth it.

Text, video and first three photos Copyright 2011
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
Photo of four color cases courtesy of Bose