Archives For Accessories

giik-headphones

Meet giik, a new line of thoughtful mobile accessories by geeky road warriors such as ourselves. While you can find similar products from both well known manufactures and inexpensive imports, the folks behind giik up the ante as each widget features “+1″ capabilities — so that headphone splitter also supports dual mics and the aux car cable brings speakerphone capabilities.

giik-closed-boxes

giik, pronounced “geek” not gick, devices ship with a 1-2 year warranty and are currently available via Amazon, Fry’s, and direct from the company.

VerizonFiosIMG1-9-5

There was a time when we celebrated Verizon FiOS guide updates. But the IMG 1.9.5 release gives us little cause for joy. The updated guide has been rolling out since last year, but it just arrived here at Chez Silbey, and comments on the DSLReports forums show that the version release has been making its way across parts of New York State in the last few weeks as well.

Although there are some minor feature updates in the new interface, the one really noticeable difference is a new ad bar at the bottom of the guide screen. In my market, I see only a Verizon logo splashed across the page, but in other regions there are actual ads appearing, like the Disney banner shown above. The injection of ads was inevitable, but it’s still disappointing as it clutters up the display. More importantly, it’s irritating when the additional ads don’t come with any major feature improvements. Personally I’m not that excited about being able to turn off parental controls for a four-hour period of time. And while it’s nice that people with multiple DVRs can now schedule recordings on a different set-top in the house, that particular feature doesn’t apply to my one-TV home.

Verizon invested significant resources in UI development in the early years of FiOS TV. The company brought us cover art for on-demand titles, IP-based widgets (apps ahead of their time), and a “What’s Hot” recommendation list showing what other viewers in the region are watching. Since at least 2011, however, Verizon has fallen steadily behind many of its competitors, and the FiOS program guide is starting to look seriously outdated.

Fortunately, there’s cause for hope. Continue Reading…

Going to ShowStoppers at CES is a bit like attending a carnival. The press event has gadget makers hawking their wares alongside display after display of brightly colored signage and geeky gear. It’s always tough to pick out the useful demos from the ones that only attract your eye because they’re shiny (more on that in a different post), but I did find two gadget accessories that are now on my must-have list.

Anker Astro 2

First up is the new Anker Astro external battery. I got an earlier version of the product for Christmas 2012, and it sustained me through my CES travels of last year. Since then, however, Anker has seriously stepped up its game on the style front. While I adore my original Anker for its functionality, the new models are smooth, soft, and much smaller in the hand. And even the smallest model still holds enough charging capacity to power up an iPhone three times over. I’m definitely upgrading soon. Continue Reading…

Apps Up Next for Chromecast

Mari Silbey —  December 16, 2013

Google Chromecast apps

Google announced a slate of new apps for Chromecast last week, but as most were less than compelling, it’s time to speculate on what else might be in the pipeline. According to Janko Roettgers over at GigaOM, Google plans to launch further “waves of Chromecast apps” in the near future. Here are a few guesses as to what they’ll be.

Mari’s Purely Speculative Chromecast App List

First up, Aereo! The little streaming-start-up-that-could is reportedly making a profit in some markets, and CEO Chet Kanojia has said publicly that Chromecast support is on the way. Given the limited reach of Aereo, Chromecast integration isn’t likely to be on anyone’s make-or-break list. But with Aereo already available on Roku and Apple TV (via Airplay), Google’s streaming stick would be a natural platform extension.

Second app: Time Warner Cable. Continue Reading…

Google Chromecast apps

Given how stupidly easy it is to use the Chromecast device with supported apps, it should come as no surprise that Google wants to encourage further integration with third-party software. While the company locked down its streaming stick a while back, there are several signs that the restraints are about to be lifted.

1. Official Chromecast Hackathon – Google hosted a hackathon this weekend in Mountain View, letting developers in to try out the Cast SDK and consult with company engineers. There’s no official list of attendees, but a few folks have mentioned receiving invitations including Koushik Dutta, creator of the AirCast app for streaming local content, and various other developers posting on industry forums. (Remember- you can already cast locally-stored photos to the Chromecast, but only if you go through a Chrome browser.)

I was hoping to hear that someone from ESPN would be in attendance, but when I talked to a spokesperson with the company, she had no knowledge of anyone at ESPN planning to go. I’d also like to see a videoconferencing app supported through Chromecast. Personally I use Tango, but Chromecast support might nudge me to spend time with Google Hangouts. Continue Reading…

Chromecast for Christmas

Mari Silbey —  November 25, 2013

Chromecast stocking

There may be no better excuse to buy gadgets en masse than the holiday shopping season, and this year Google has nailed the stocking-stuffer price point at $35 for its Chromecast streaming video stick. It’s not just Christmas either, of course. I’m a sucker for alliteration, but in reality, Chromecast is going to be the gift of choice for many a holiday celebration this winter.

Chromecast has a lot more going for it than just price. Google added HBO support last week and is reportedly getting ready to release an SDK to developers in the near future. The more apps that integrate with the hardware, the more valuable Chromecast becomes. As someone with a Roku box, I was initially uninterested in using Chromecast for to watch Netflix. However, I installed the Chromecast plug-in on my first-gen iPad, and when the tablet prompted me to choose between my mobile device and my Chromecast-connected TV to continue watching a show on Netflix, I decided to test Chromecast viewing.

The result? Continue Reading…

Chromecast photo sharing local media

Thanks to Google, you can’t stream local content with third-party apps via Chromecast anymore. But you don’t need an app to share content with a Chromecast device.

At least as far as photos are concerned, it’s easy to port pictures over to a TV set using the Chrome web browser. Go to File-Open, or hit Control “O” in a new tab and select the photo from your computer to launch. The photo opens in the browser, and you can then cast that tab to your TV.

Videos are a little more complicated. Continue Reading…