Archives For Accessories

Chromecast set-up 3

I spent more time playing with Chromecast this weekend while also contemplating the ongoing CBS blackout for Time Warner subscribers. At the moment, CBS is also blocking access to its shows on CBS.com for TWC subs. However, there is some legal argument that the network shouldn’t be able to discriminate against a specific set of viewers online. If that notion ever gains traction, then online access could be a viable alternative to watching CBS on cable.

Which led me to test out streaming from the CBS website. With Chromecast.

The good news is that casting the CBS stream to your TV is extremely easy. Switch TV inputs, open up CBS in your Chrome browser, click the Google Cast button, and you’re good to go. The bad news is that the video quality is atrocious. I’m not a pixel snob, but I was on the verge of getting nauseous trying to watch the disjointed playback. Continue Reading…

Playtime! Chromecast at Home

Mari Silbey —  August 23, 2013

Chromecast set-up 1

I have barely scratched the surface of what Chromecast can do (although Janko has a lengthy review), and already I love it. Here are a few things I’ve learned from laptop streaming only. More experimentation to come with smartphones and iPads.

Lessons Learned

1. Set-up is extremely fast and easy. I know it’s already been said by others, but it bears repeating. I plugged the stick into my TV, navigated to the Chromecast set-up page on my laptop browser, typed in the code listed on my TV screen, gave my Chromecast a name, and that was it. The only hiccup I ran into was that my laptop briefly disconnected from my wireless network during set-up. Once I reconnected it, Chromecast worked instantly. Continue Reading…

Eye-Fi Mobi

Eye-Fi has launched the Eye-Fi Mobi, a new camera SD card designed to let you share photos directly from your camera to your mobile devices. This isn’t entirely new, but Eye-Fi claims the set-up process is simpler than ever, requiring “no computer, no account and no cloud.” The price tag is also niftier than before; just $50 for an 8GB card, or $80 for the 16GB version.

We’ve been fans of Eye-Fi for years at ZNF, but I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve used one of their camera cards. The Mobi doesn’t require an Internet connection, but instead directly pairs your camera with a smartphone or tablet. Back in the day, I used my Eye-Fi card to transfer photos automatically to my PC, and then upwards to the cloud as needed. The Mobi doesn’t connect with computers – which is a bit silly – but that may not be a deal-breaker anymore given the proliferation of all things mobile. Users can download the free Eye-Fi iOS or Android app to an unlimited number of devices and share, share away.

For a while I tried to make do with my smartphone for all photo-taking excursions. However, I finally broke down and asked for a real (albeit still inexpensive) camera last Christmas. The quality in most situations is still infinitely better than that of my HTC Thunderbolt. Of course now I just have more digital photos in more places. Perhaps an Eye-Fi Mobi card can help fix the problem.

logitech-harmony-bestbuy2

Prior to the division’s potential sale, Logitech’s last Harmony remote control models have started arriving at Best Buy. The Harmony Ultimate and (soon) the Harmony Smart Control join the Touch and 650 on a revamped retail display. Both new models ship with a the “Harmony Hub” – which appears to represent the evolution of the Harmony Link, bringing smartphone integration and RF capabilities. At $350, the Ultimate is too rich for my blood. And having spent time with the Touch, it’s hard to justify at even $250. However, the Smart Control at $130 appears quite interesting. It ships with a screenless Harmony remote and that aforementioned Hub. Knowing my smartphone blows away the Ultimate/Touch’s display in presentation and responsiveness, this seems like a fairly clever hybrid solution. One I intend on checking out…

fitbit-aria

After four months with the Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale ($130), I haven’t shed any significant weight. However, should I find the motivation to improve my fitness and diet, I do believe the Aria will provide an attractive and effective mechanism for tracking my progress. But let’s back up a bit…

As our homes and appliances collectively gain sentience via Internet connectivity, health gadgetry has become something of hot topic. The current crop of digital pedometers doesn’t do much for me, but a WiFi scale with automated tracking and charting is appealing. In this burgeoning new category, there are basically two manufacturers to choose from: Withings and Fitbit. And I went with the Fitbit Aria primarily because it clocked in $30 cheaper than Withings (at the time) and Fitbit has decent buzz due to the success of those aforementioned activity trackers (that don’t do much for me). So, while Withings may have a more sophisticated display, at the end of the day I’m just looking for two numbers — weight and body fat percentage. Assuming both products provide similar accuracy, which I can’t definitively address. Continue Reading…

StickNFind bluetooth stickers

All this talk about an Internet of Things and I still can’t find my keys in the morning. This is the problem I hoped to solve when I visited the StickNFind booth at CES last week. (An eon ago, but we’re still catching up on coverage) Funded by an IndieGoGo campaign (like Kickstarter), the StickNFind product is a small Bluetooth sticker combined with a mobile app for homing in on objects wherever they go. It’s due to ship commercially in March, and it comes with a reasonable price tag of $50 for two stickers.

There are a lot of things to like about StickNFind. The sticker format makes these tracking devices very flexible. They stick on almost anything, and you can track up to 20 objects (or pets, or kids…) at once. There’s also a nifty “virtual leash” feature that lets you know when a sticker is moving out of range. Unfortunately, StickNFind is also at the mercy of Bluetooth’s limitations. The tracking function only works up to 100 feet, and it requires line of sight. Continue Reading…

CES Gadget Go Bag

Mari Silbey —  January 3, 2013

CES gadget go bag

 

After skipping the “International CES”* last year, both Dave and I are headed back to Vegas for the consumer electronics show in 2013. And that means it’s time once again to look into the gadget go bag. For next week’s trip I’m packing up the laptop and smartphone, but also a few accessories that should hopefully make my rounds at the show a little easier. First, despite Dave’s insistence that I use my phone to take all photos, I’ve acquired another point-and-shoot camera. The quality of my smartphone photos is seriously lacking, and while I have no aspirations to be an award-winning photographer, it would be nice if a few of my gadget pics were recognizable as such, even in low light and among jostling conference-goers.

Second, I’ve added a critical new piece of hardware to boost my phone’s naturally crappy battery life. The Anker Astro 3 external charger may be overkill given that I only need one of the one thousand enclosed adapter tips, but it promises to power my phone at least six times on a single charge. And that is invaluable while traipsing around Vegas roughly 20 out of every 24 hours each day.

Finally, I’ve included a small Skooba case for organizing my various gadget cables, and a set of cheap but worthwhile Panasonic earphones so I can safely ignore my fellows anytime and anywhere. Remember, just because we bloggers want to learn more about this year’s gadgets doesn’t mean we actually want to talk to other people while doing it.

Interestingly, while pulling this post together, I happened across a photo of my gadget bag from CES 2010. There have been a few changes since then. Continue Reading…