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Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Gadget Ogling: Garish Walkie-Talkies, Slick Cameras and Mini 3D Printing
November 08, 2014
Welcome to another installment of every tech-loving optimist's and misanthrope's favorite look at the week's most wondrous and pitiful new gadgets. Ahead, for your delight and dismay, are studies of a wearable walkie-talkie-type communication device, a 360-degree action camera, a tiny 3D printer, a smart camera attachment, and a clever mobile roaming solution.
Amazon's Echo Plays Hard to Get
November 07, 2014
Amazon on Thursday announced Echo, a speaker with a built-in voice-activated personal digital assistant. Think of a cylindrical Bose SoundLink Mini married to Siri, Cortana or Google Voice -- or heck, living in sin with all three. Echo can conduct Web searches, add items to your to-do list, let you play streaming music, and give you news and weather reports, among other things.
Hybrid IKEA Desk Could Get You Off Your Duff
October 28, 2014
IKEA last week introduced a new desk that can be raised and lowered with the push of a button to accommodate both sitting and standing positions. Part of IKEA's Bekant line, the desk serves as a hybrid alternative to traditional desks. "This desk promotes a healthy work environment by getting people on their feet," said Karen Haas, IKEA's U.S. sales leader for Workspaces.
Smart Nightlight Calls Your iPhone When Smoke, CO Alarms Start Wailing
October 22, 2014
Leeo on Tuesday introduced the Smart Alert Nightlight, a $99 gadget that can detect when the alarm sounds from a smoke or carbon monoxide detector and send alerts to an iPhone. About the size and shape of a coaster, the Smart Alert Nightlight plugs into a wall outlet where it does double duty as illuminator and monitor. When it hears an alarm, it uses its WiFi connection to send a push notification.
The Next-Gen TV Cable Dilemma
October 22, 2014
Television manufacturers are moving toward ultra high definition -- also known as "4K" -- which offers four times the resolution of HD. It also offers greater depth of color and faster frame rate. That means more information must travel through the cable from the video source to the TV. The current de facto cable, HDMI, or high-definition multimedia interface, solves some of the old problems.
Gadget Ogling: Apple vs. Google, a Bossy Activity Tracker, and Feeling Your Path
October 18, 2014
There was plenty of focus on the cameras at Apple's presentation, as it tries to promote the tablet as an ideal viewfinder for taking high-quality images, while adding iPhone features like time-lapse and burst mode. However, the new push of iPad photography is just encouraging even more people to look foolish by taking photos with their tablet in public. This is a plague.
Enter the Nexus Dragon
October 16, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced three new devices in its Nexus line: a tablet, a phablet, and a streaming media game player-cum-Android TV device, all of which run Lollipop, the latest version of its Android OS. Lollipop lets users sync content from phones to tablets to TVs and use it seamlessly. It has a consistent design across devices so transitions between tasks are more fluid.
August Smart Lock Gets Key Exposure in Apple Stores
October 14, 2014
The August Smart Lock will become available for purchase at Apple retail stores in the U.S. starting this week, the company announced on Tuesday. Priced at $249.99, the smart device uses Bluetooth and a mobile app to create a virtual key. It has been shipping since late August in limited quantities to those who ordered it online, but it currently is backordered, with delivery expected in 90 days.
Samsung Plots Foray Into Speedy 60-GHz WiFi Market
October 14, 2014
Samsung on Sunday announced that it has resolved issues hindering the commercialization of 802.11ad standard 60-GHz WiFi technology. The company's solution maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference regardless of the number of devices on the network, using what it claims is the world's first method that allows multiple devices to connect simultaneously to a network.
Gadget Ogling: Strange Cameras, Fast Charges, Racing Robots
October 10, 2014
HTC is stepping so far out of the box with the RE Camera, it's almost as if there was never a box to begin with. Instead of making us stare through a viewfinder, this minimalist device almost demands a return to older forms of photography, while still taking advantage of modern technology. It looks like a cross between a periscope and an asthma inhaler, neither of which scream style.
Apple's 'Way Too Long' Invite Lands With a Thud
October 09, 2014
Apple's pretty much annual October new product media event usually is preceded by a cute invitation sent to journalists. The invitation typically includes a phrase or graphic element that provides a vague clue to the secret agenda of the event. Presumably, this is to drum up excitement and speculation, in addition to creating an ah-ha moment.
Microsoft's RoomAlive Gaming Jumps Out of the Box
October 06, 2014
Microsoft Research on Sunday demonstrated RoomAlive, a new technology that can transform any room into an immersive and interactive gaming display. Based on a scalable multiprojector system that adapts gaming content to the physical space, RoomAlive allows users to touch, shoot, stomp, dodge and steer projected content that becomes seamlessly integrated with their environment.
Gadget Ogling: Jump Starts, Wearable Drones, Smarter Yoga and Safer Food
October 03, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to a new installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares. On the docket this time around are a motivational wearable device, a smart yoga mat, a golfer-focused smartwatch, a drone with a difference, and a way to stop food from going bad. As always, these aren't reviews -- the ratings denote only my interest in actually using them.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Wine, Wooly Sound and a Clever Light Bulb
September 27, 2014
I give LG a little flak for constantly releasing new smartphones, but here's one with a twist. LG is pegging the Wine Smart as its first flip-style smartphone. Yes, the compact style is back, only this time its fuel is Android, instead of whatever arcane OS manufacturers might dream up. I suspect this is more about style than function, outside of a dedicated button for opening an IM app.
Desktop PCs May Be Poised for a Comeback
September 26, 2014
Desktop computer users are more satisfied with their devices than laptop and tablet owners, according to a recent American Customer Satisfaction Index survey. However, the category of personal computer satisfaction in general appears to be somewhat in the dumps. The annual measure of satisfaction fell 1.3 points to a score of 78 out of a possible 100.
Sony's PlayStation TV Could Be a Busy Little Gadget
September 22, 2014
Sony Computer Entertainment on Monday confirmed that nearly 700 games will be available for its PlayStation TV system when it launches in North America on Oct. 14. They will include popular and classic franchises such as Killzone: Mercenary, Final Fantasy, Twisted Metal and Metal Gear Solid. The PS TV is a non-portable variant of the PlayStation Vita.
Gadget Ogling: Amazon on Fire, Virtual Reality, True Nature and Energy Relief
September 20, 2014
Apple might be the flavor of the minute as new iPhones hit stores, but Amazon isn't ready to let its rival hog all the limelight. Without a flashy presentation, it unveiled a half-dozen new Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. There's a 6-inch Fire HD tablet priced at $99 and a 7-inch version for $139. The Fire tablets are reliably solid machines, and those are fantastically enticing prices.
Harmony Takes Control of Home Sweet Automated Home
September 18, 2014
Logitech has announced four new products for the smart home in its Harmony family that let users control TVs, set-top boxes, speakers, lighting, thermostats, door locks, window shades and more. Users can trigger activities such as dimming the house lights in several ways: by pressing a button on their remote; passing a sensor; using the Harmony mobile app; or by setting up an automatic schedule.
Gadget Ogling: Curves and Edges, Toasty Toes, Smart Charger and Dumb Wearables
September 05, 2014
Welcome to the latest installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly look at just-announced personal tech items. There's plenty on the menu this time around: Samsung's latest smartphone and tablet salvo; two pieces of smart, on-the-go tech; some curved home entertainment options; and wearable devices from an unlikely source. Tthese are not reviews -- my ratings reflect my interest.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
Close Your Eyes and Rest Easy - Blink Is Watching the House
August 21, 2014
One of the most troubling issues with home security and remote-monitoring products is the complexity and cost to set them up. Blink, a new Kickstarter project, is different. It promises to be astoundingly easy, and it's inexpensive, too. Backers can get a simple remote motion detection and video camera unit for just $69 -- or two for $119. Better yet, no subscription service is required.
Social Robot Jibo Melts Crowdfunders' Hearts
July 18, 2014
A crowdfunding campaign for Jibo, a little robot designed to become one of the family, kicked off Wednesday on Indiegogo, and it already has raised more than $577,000 -- nearly six times its $100,000 target. The voice-controlled robot with a friendly face is a do-it-all personal assistant. It can take pictures, provide information from the Web or apps, order food, display e-books and much more.
Bet You Wish You'd Installed a Blender in a Cooler Lid
July 16, 2014
The hottest crowdsourced hit of the summer is the Coolest Cooler, an unassuming party cooler that features a built-in ice-crushing blender, a removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger, an LED lid light, a gear tie down, super wide wheels for dragging it over sand, a bottle opener, a divider to help keep your margarita ice separate from your sandwiches, and a knife built into the lid.

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