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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.
Nest Offers Discounted, Wave-Less Smoke Alarm
June 17, 2014
Google's Nest subsidiary has returned its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm to the market, less than one month after recalling 440,000 units because of a defect. The device has been discounted to $99 from $130. The Protect was recalled because of a software glitch that could prevent it from properly sounding an alert. Nest issued a temporary software update to disable its Wave feature.
Honeywell's Lyric May Disturb Google's Nest
June 10, 2014
Honeywell has launched its Lyric smart thermostat, a device widely seen as a challenge to Google's Nest product. Like Nest, the Lyric can be controlled by a smartphone app; however, it uses geolocation to turn home heating and cooling systems on or off when the consumer's smartphone is within a specified distance. Apart from that, the two devices generally appear to have fairly similar features.
Sony Storms Out of the E3 Gate
June 10, 2014
Sony laid down its markers for PlayStation's months and years ahead with a slew of announcements at the E3 gaming trade show. PlayStation 4 has been handily outselling Xbox One since the consoles launched at the end of 2013. E3 is a key battleground for Sony and Microsoft, as they reveal upcoming software and hardware to entice new customers or keep existing users plugged into their ecosystems.
The 5 Things That Made This Year's WWDC Radical
June 06, 2014
While there were two hours jam-packed with announcements at the keynote presentation kicking off Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference this week, you can count the really important announcements that will create lasting change on one hand. The new programming language, Swift, isn't one of them. Wait, what? Not Swift? Why? There are five bigger deals.
Android TV Pegged for June Appearance
June 04, 2014
Android TV has appeared in tech industry rumors for years, but recent reports suggest the long-awaited technology actually may be making its way into the real world at last. Google apparently plans to announce the launch of Android TV at its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco later this month, according to "multiple sources familiar with Google's plans."
Apple Teases Consumers, Doubles Down With Devs
June 03, 2014
Apple managed to pull off a mean feat on Monday at its WorldWide Developers Conference. Without announcing a single hardware device, it teased consumers with dozens of updated features in iOS 8 and the next version of Mac OS X -- dubbed "Yosemite" -- then doubled-down with app developers by offering tons of new APIs, along with elements of deep integration between apps and devices.
Can Apple Do for Smart Homes What It Did for Smartphones?
June 02, 2014
Apple is rumored to be launching a smart home platform at its developer conference this week. The smart home market is actually in a place that's rather similar to where MP3 players were when Apple launched the iPod, and the iPhone is basically an iPod with phone capability. The smart home effort is in part about music and video distribution, and iPhones are commonly used as remote controls.
Microsoft Circles Back to Halo
May 17, 2014
Microsoft is returning to one of its biggest franchises with the announcement of a new Halo game, set to debut next year for the Xbox One. Accompanying the release of the title is a new TV show based on the series. The release of Microsoft's latest console, the Xbox One, provided the opportunity to rethink how to move the franchise forward while highlighting the console's assets.
Brave New IoT World
May 14, 2014
Wearable technology and other devices, objects and systems connected to the Internet will be fully pervasive in our society by 2025, according to a new report. The Internet of Things references the many objects in our everyday lives that share data over the Internet. While the trend already is taking effect, it will have a much more widespread impact on our lives in a decade's time.
Precision Cooking Fires Up the Crowd
May 14, 2014
A new crowdsourced Kickstarter project has blasted out of the gate and racked up more than $1,000,000 in funding -- its goal was a modest $100,000 -- with 34 days to go. The project? The Anova Precision Cooker. At first glance, the Anova Precision Cooker looks like a massive electronic thermometer with a plug-in cord. It's used for the sous-vide style of cooking.
The Role of the UI in Video Discovery
April 28, 2014
As the competition around video services has increased across all global markets, a common theme has arisen among the various players in the market: The interface matters. For video services, particularly those offered online, the user interface is the face of the service to the consumer. For this reason, the focus on the user interface for video services is higher than at any time in the past.
Microsoft's Makeover: Nadella Confirmed, Ballmer Vindicated
April 28, 2014
Last week, Microsoft delivered its quarterly report, and it was a big deal. It was CEO Satya Nadella's first real quarter and the Nokia merger was completed. This is just the beginning of the Microsoft makeover, but two things indicate that in the end, Ballmer finally did what was right for Microsoft in prepping the company for Nadella -- and that Nadella was the right choice to lead the firm.
Micro Brings 3D Printing to the Mainstream
April 09, 2014
The Micro is the latest consumer-targeted 3D printer to generate buzz after flying past its $50,000 Kickstarter goal. It took only 11 minutes for the printer to reach its goal. As of mid-day Wednesday, the Micro had brought in more than $1.8 million from more than 6,400 backers. The Micro is the world's "first truly consumer 3D printer," its makers claim, in part because of its affordable price.

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