Archives For Gadgets

After 12 hours with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, some thoughts…

The remote feels exceedingly cheap compared to the premium clicker that ships with the full-fledged Fire TV box and I had some difficulty removing the battery cover. Having said that, a flimsy remote is infinitely more valuable than no remote… versus Google Chromecast, which requires a smartphone for interaction.

In the app department, the Fire TV UI remains somewhat unwieldy compared to Roku given its expected emphasis of Amazon services – but it’s certainly manageable, More importantly, the third party content selection is still lacking. For example, our kitchen TV is perfectly suited for CNN or Sky News (as seen on Apple TV) background noise, yet neither are available. Also missing, but expected soon, is HBO GO. I had no problems streaming Netflix and WatchESPN – both looked great. Plex also seems to be working wellContinue Reading…

Refurb Kindle Paperwhite @ $79

Dave Zatz —  November 10, 2014

paperwhite-pool

While I failed to post on last week’s fantabulous refurb Kindle Fire HDX deal, despite getting in myself, the Paperwhite is similarly on sale now for 24 hours. The $79 refurb

is a pre-owned Kindle Paperwhite that has been refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new. Includes a full one-year limited warranty, just like a brand-new Kindle Paperwhite.

Indeed, my recently received HDX looks brand-spanking-new (as we’ve been enjoying ESPN and the FiOS app at the kitchen table, Alpha House in bed). And, as far as Amazon’s e-readers go, the Paperwhite represents the best value – even sweeter at this price point and despite the retired physical page turn buttons. I’ve quite enjoyed my glowing touchscreen reader over the last year, as has Nathan (who?).

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.

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!)

Soundfreaq Pocket Kick Review

Adam Miarka —  October 10, 2014

soundfreaq6

Previously on ZNF, we had the opportunity to review two Bluetooth speakers, the massive, if not questionably looking, G-Boom speaker, and the Pringles shaped Logitech Ultimate Ears Boom. Both of these speakers had their pros and cons depending on your situation. The G-Boom was great for parking in one place and letting the music rock. The UE Boom on the other hand offered a smaller package, great sound, and the ability to update features via firmware updates. Today we’ll be looking at an even more compact – the $100 Soundfreaq Pocket Kick.

Hardware and Setup

Compared to the sharp corners of the G-Boom or the circular shape of the EU Boom, the Soundfreaq Pocket Kick features a slab design with rounded off corners. The speaker grills are made of a steel featuring a nice pattern with the Soundfreaq logo in the middle. The outer edges of the of speaker feature a nice rubber material that makes the Pocket Kick easy to hold without slipping out of the hand.  The rubber sides also allow the speaker to stay put on any surface while the music is jamming. Speaking of size, the Pocket Kick is the smallest of the three speakers we’ve had the chance to review. It’s roughly the size of an iPhone 5s from a surface area perspective, and about 3 times as deep. Continue Reading…