Archives For Accessories

The Jawbone Icon. Remixed.

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2010

Last month, Aliph unleashed their latest Jawbone Bluetooth earpiece. And PC Magazine declares the Icon to be “the best-designed and potentially the most flexible Bluetooth headset on the market.”

Of course the Icon features Jawbone’s trademark “NoiseAssassin.” But the Icon should also expand Jawbone’s customer base as the lowest priced Jawbone (at launch) – coming in at $100. Interestingly, Aliph has probably confirmed what we already knew in that Apple is done making Bluetooth earpieces, given authorized usage of the iPhone Bluetooth charge indicator.

However, the most dramatic new Jawbone feature is the five MyTalk voices that ship (or can be downloaded) with your Bluetooth headset. Which Gizmodo calls “laughably cheesy.” I have to agree the personas are somewhat over the top and entertaining. But not quite as amusing as I’d like. And, unfortunately, I don’t have the skills to create the sort of soundboard I was envisioning or to remix the various personalities into something like Revolucian’s instant classic Christian Bale tribute (NSFW). However, Dan Dorato turned me on to Garage Band and I pulled together my very first compilation in about 25 minutes on a flight to Vegas yesterday. Click the triangular play button below…

:http://www.zatznotfunny.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Jawbone-Remix.mp3|titles=Jawbone-Remix

Mari and I recently took a look at Skinit’s line of gadget decals. Which are less about device protection and more about personalization. I skinned a buddy’s Droid with some urban camouflage ($15), while she skinned her netbook with the dastardly Duke Blue Devils ($20).

Our results were a bit mixed. The Droid skin job was excellent – no problem applying the 5 perfectly cut decals, which resulted in a slick looking handset. But Mari’s netbook experience left us a bit puzzled. It wasn’t quite clear which side of the skin was up, given hinge cutouts (?) that didn’t line up with anything, and we observed some crinkling on the edges. It’s possible we ordered the incorrect netbook model skin or the wrong one was sent out. (And Asus doesn’t help the situation with a multitude of similarly named model variations.)

Regardless, our skins were on the house for purposes of blogging. As yours will be. If you’d like to take Skinit for a spin, and they support tons of devices with tons of designs, simply leave a comment letting us know what sort of gadget you plan to adorn. We’ll randomly choose one winner in a few days.

Update: We’ve heard back from the Skinit folks. And do indeed have Mari’s Duke skin upside down in the photos. Although she did place it both ways, and neither looked exactly right. We’ll try another and blog the results.

Click to enlarge:

Fabulous parties and celebrity appearances aside, the Powermat booth tour may have been my best blogger experience at CES this year. And while I won’t make it out to Mobile World Congress later this month, I do have a few educated guesses on what the wireless-power company will be launching there.

The Powermat folks graciously guided me on a back-room tour at CES to show off several upcoming product lines. In the queue are new single- and dual-position charging mats (charge one, two, or three products at once), higher-powered mats to support netbooks (!), and sleeker mobile device cases. All of these products are officially due out in the spring, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Powermat jump the gun on that projection. The company recently sent out MWC emails inviting media to visit its booth at the show for the introduction of “its next line in wireless charging.” Hmm…

Just as important as Powermat’s near-term product launches, however, are the price reductions on the way (expense being one of my pet peeves), and the innovations planned for later this year and next. Currently Powermat offers a full-size charging mat for $99. That will drop to $79 for a three-position mat, $59 for the dual-position, and $39 for the single-position version.

On the innovation front, Powermat will soon start offering mobile device batteries that do away with the need for a custom case or Powermat charging tip. This is where wireless charging gets good. Imagine replacing the battery in your new Nexus One with a premium Powermat version. Then all you need to do when you get home is drop the phone on your charging mat, and you’re good to go. Best of all, Powermat is working with a programmable chip that lets it take standard silicon and adapt it for new mobile devices as they’re introduced. According to the company, it will be able to bring new Powermat batteries to market in a short four to six weeks – fast enough to keep up with the most popular new phone launches.

Oh yeah, and Powermat isn’t stopping with phones. Camera batteries are in the works for 2011. And I just gotta believe Powermat’s put in a few calls to Apple about that iPad. I can just hear the Power Pad jokes now.

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Case-Mate Hug Hero Fulton eCoupled wireless power

Wireless power options continue to improve, but I’m still not wild about spending money for a charging mat and a gadget case. It helps that prices are coming down, but even the latest entrant from Case-Mate – an iPhone/iPod solution called the Hug – still costs $89.99. And money is only part of the problem as far as I’m concerned. I don’t love the idea of having to use a mat at all, which is why I’m excited about the latest tech from Texas Instruments and Fulton Innovation.

TI and Fulton are working on a contactless charging system. It involves a transmitter, receiver, and “associated magnetics,” and the companies are offering a development kit to gadget designers that want to test it out. The bqTESLA Contactless Charging Evaluation Kit will cost $250 and will be available “by the end of Q1.” TI and Fulton will also have a demo on hand at CES, and I will definitely check it out if I can make the schedule work. The solution is based on Fulton’s existing eCoupled technology, which I took a look at during last year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

UPDATE: I made the mistake of assuming that contactless meant the gadget and charging station would not need to make contact. Sadly, that’s not the case. Fulton and TI are referring to metal contacts, which are not required. The gadget and charging mat here still need to touch. More to come on this front  later.

Clickfree C2 data back-up

Since we all know by now that I don’t have the best track record in personal data recovery, I’ve decided to kick myself into gear in 2010 and test out a few different backup technologies. First in line, the Clickfree C2.

I acquired a Clickfree Transformer Cable last year at CES, and true to its word, the pretty purple cable automated everything after I plugged it in to my computer and my external hard drive.  I’ve decided, however, that I prefer an all-in-one solution like the Seagate Replica, and so I’ve now moved on to the Clickfree C2. Determined to have all my data backed up before heading to Vegas, I hooked up the Clickfree C2 a few days ago and ran it through its paces.

Getting started was a little rocky. Windows made me reboot after “installing” the new hardware, and powering on again with the Clickfree C2 still plugged in brought up an error message. Once I unplugged, restarted, and plugged back in again, though, everything went swimmingly. Full-backup (only about 7 GB) took a scant few minutes, and I didn’t have to touch a thing. More importantly, the restore options turned out to be both simple and highly flexible. Under the advanced restore menu, you can restore everything back to its original location, or select individual files and manually set their destinations. Very useful.

Meanwhile, the Clickfree C2 hardware itself is a cute little box with a bendy USB connector attached. It’s available at retail for $139.99 or $189.99 for the 250 GB and 500 GB versions respectively. Or you can pick one up for free from ZNF when we give away the review unit in a few weeks. Sorry, my data not included. I’ll be wiping the drive once I return from Vegas.

Stop Paying Too Much For Cables

Dave Zatz —  December 8, 2009

monoprice-hdmi

With the holidays upon us, I’m reposting this PSA – which was originally published way back in July, 2006. (RIP Tweeter and Circuit City.)

Stop it! Seriously. It sickens me when friends and family tell me how much they’re paying for cables at retail. Best Buy, Circuit City, and even Radio Shack are sticking it to consumers with profit margins that must exceed 80%.

Obviously we can’t stop buying cables, but we can be more choosy in who we patronize. If you have the patience to wait a few days for delivery, the best deals are (not-surprisingly) online. The other benefit of buying online is there are far more options in terms of connections and cable length. For example, I couldn’t just drive down to my local Tweeter for the 35′ HD15 -> Component cable I needed to feed my recently retired (sniff sniff) projector. Retailers like Amazon and Buy.com are much cheaper than the brick & mortars, but for the best deals look to specialized businesses.

In my experience, MonoPrice is currently the best of the bunch among lesser known vendors. Their prices are awesome and delivery is efficient. I recently purchased BOTH a 3′ HDMI cable and a 3′ DVI -> HDMI cable for UNDER $10. How can you beat that?

skooba-proporta-ipod-cases

Skooba, venerable maker of Checkpoint-friendly laptop bags and other sturdy computer cases (and CES CtrStg sponsor), has started selling Proporta-brand cases for portable gear as of today. Normally I wouldn’t bother reporting on reseller news, even a US exclusive, but 1. I like Skooba, and 2. Proporta has some nice-looking stuff. I’ve found it oddly difficult to find nice cases for some of my gadgets, so any new supplier is welcome.

The full Proporta line-up includes everything from drawstring, to leather, to neoprene, and outfits itsy bitsy devices like the iPod Shuffle (all versions) all the way up to 10″ netbooks and full-size laptops. I had hoped the netbook cases would include include handles (I’m ready to replace my fashionable-but-rapidly-soiled Golla bag freebie), but like most on the market, they’re only netbook sleeves with no easy carrying attachment. On the other hand, the Proporta selection of iPod and other MP3 player cases is quite impressive. Fashion and function are both well represented.

No word on how wide a range of products Skooba will sell from the Proporta line (iPod cases now, but more products coming soon), but Skooba did send us a coupon for our readers if you want to do some shopping. You can get 15% off any Proporta items through the end of May. Use discount code PROPORTA.