Archives For Gadgets

Amazon just surprised everyone with a crazy speaker that talks to you

dlink-window-sensorBy way of the FCC (1, 2), we learn D-Link intends to expand its range of home monitoring products beyond WiFi and into the realm of Z-Wave with a pair of new CR123A-powered environmental sensors. From the product manuals:

The sensor DCH-Z110/Z120 have PIR or door/window integrated with, temperature and illumination, which are 3 sensors function in one, based on Z-Wave technology.

Beyond that arcane product labeling, these will also be known as the myllink Z-Wave Motion Sensor and the mydlink Z-Wave Door/Window Sensor. We can’t say we’re entirely surprised to see D-Link go further down the smart home path, given their collaboration with Zonoff to produce the new Staples Connect hub – which communicates via WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee… and, of course, Z-Wave.

roku-google-play

After the debacle that was Google TV and the aborted Nexus Q sideshow, Google bounced back nicely with the inexpensive and effective $35 Chromecast streaming stick. Not content to leave well enough alone, Android TV was announced at Google I/O and the Asus Nexus Player recently hit the market ahead of a revised, second generation Chromecast. And, as these two new products ramp up while project management fails to present a clear vision, Google has hedged their bets… by launching their Google Play video store on Roku. Given Logitech’s abandonment of Google TV and ASUS’ prior streaming efforts, Amazon Fire TV is the “Android TV” I’d go with or that aforementioned Roku for those deep into Google’s ecosystem. While Amazon similarly provides its video service to competing devices, including TiVo, the retailer’s business model and approach is better defined.

Of course within 24 hours of receiving the new Fitbit Charge, Microsoft goes and releases their first product geared towards the fitness crowd. And, of course, being me, I had to find one the day it’s released. I really think this is the first time I have bought a Microsoft product, other than the computers I’m forced to use every day. I even ventured into a Microsoft Store where customers are still outnumbered by staff.  ;-)

With the Fitbit Charge being just a rehash of the Force (it even says Force when you look at your Bluetooth settings on the phone), the Microsoft Band is a much more interesting product as it not only adds GPS to the mix, but also continuous heart rate monitoring. This lines it up nicely with the ChargeHR and Surge from FitBit. The cost is even split as the Band comes in at $199, where as the ChargeHR is $149 and the Surge is $249. Microsoft has one big advantage here of having the product available now, instead of an early 2015 rollout. Continue Reading…

Fitbit Charge Now Shipping

Dave Zatz —  October 29, 2014

As the story goes, the Fitbit Force activity tracker was recalled due to steel- or nickel-induced rashes. With hopefully less irritants, along with guidance on fit and hygiene, Fitbit is back with the Charge and Surge (that we broke in June). While the $250 Surge, expected in 2015, is more akin to a Garmin Forerunner, the Charge is effectively the 2014 Force upgrade … that builds upon the Flex with a small screen used to display time, steps, and even callerID from a synced phone. Sadly, while Fitbit Charge ($129) bands have started arriving, auto sleep and call notifications aren’t actually working… yet. Having said that, our very own Adam Miarka (who you may recognize as the hand model above) says the fit is good and that the band may actually be softer than the Force’s.

Speaking of, today Force owners were emailed one-time use 15% off coupon codes. While I didn’t get in on the prior generation activity band, a Twitter buddy hooked me up and I ordered a Fitbit Charge of my own.

As a thank you for using Fitbit Force, we’re giving you 15% off one of our trackers.

I expect the Charge will nicely compliment my existing Fitbit Aria. Yet I plan to decommission the WiFi scale as it’s the only 802.11b device on my network, dragging everything down.

UPDATE: Firmware version 74 has been pushed out, enabling call notifications, tap gestures, and auto sleep!

chromecast-v2

More than a year after release, Google appears poised to refresh Chromecast (in addition to cranking away on the new Android TV platform). As to what’s improved, FCC filing details are scarce due to the typical 180 confidentiality request. Having said that, we anticipate this is a minor hardware revision given the incoming device sports the same model number as my original streaming+mirroring stick (tho the FCC ID increments from -42 to -2A) – perhaps representing a swapping of internal components for cost savings and/or performance gains. Continue Reading…

sonos-light

For several hours this weekend, the Sonos website featured an unexpected “Light-1″ menu option. Combing through the FCC and USPTO, along with the requisite, tho cursory, Googling, has turned up squat. Is this nothing more than a textual error? Or is Sonos getting into the lightspeaker game? Another possibility, assuming this is something more than a coding mistake, could be programmatic light+music synchronization as seen from the likes of SyFy and Philips Hue. We love a good mystery almost as much as we love Sonos whole home audio.

Meanwhile, the Sonos Boost streaming enhancer must near release given a large number of live support documents and updated product imagery, while the Sonos Playbase remains shrouded in mystery.

(Thanks Mike!)