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…

dvr-plus-guide-ott

The fee-free, over-the-air Channel Master DVR+ continues to gain new capabilities. And, next up is YouTube – which will join Pandora and Vudu in the guide (or via direct dial) next month. Beyond newly released over-the-top streaming apps and expanded storage options, the DVR experience is also regularly receiving updates. Also expected next month is a season pass recording filter to capture only “new” episodes.

“We want the experience of DVR+ to be as close as possible to a cable or satellite DVR, and this feature is key.” The feature will work with an Internet-connected DVR+ utilizing the 14-day program guide, and non-connected DVR+ units will retain the name-based series record feature that works with over-the-air content data.

While we quite like their solution, Channel Master has its work cut out for them given strong competition from Tablo and TiVo… assuming cord cutters are even willing to take on the expense of a smarter DVR versus a simplistic digital VCR.

IMG_7159

Staples Connect, our favorite home automation aggregator, is now shipping the new D-Link hub which was announced back in June. This hub replaces the model previously reviewed on ZNF. Along with a change from Linksys to D-Link as the manufacturer, the device itself also changed form factor. The Linksys model was white and “square’ish”, whereas the new D-Link hub is black and shaped like a tall cylinder similar to their other home routers.

The new features of the D-Link hub include the addition of Zigbee and Bluetooth protocols, although these devices are not available to add to the hub just yet. After receiving my hub today, I attempted to add a GE Link Zigbee light to the hub, but was met with a “Device not supported yet” message. Expanded Zigbee support is anticipated via an update in the next couple weeks. Staples is also working on a migration process from the old Linksys hub to the new D-Link one as well. This will take care of moving current customer’s connected devices and actions from one hub to the other.

For those looking to get a deal, Staples is actually offering the hub for free with 2 qualified Staple Connect device purchases.   You simply need to add the new D-Link hub to your cart, add an additional two Staples Connect devices, and use the code 29131 during checkout.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 3.47.52 PM

Fitbit Charge Now Shipping

Dave Zatz —  October 29, 2014 — 32 Comments

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!

HBO GO Headed To TiVo?

Dave Zatz —  October 29, 2014 — 23 Comments

tivo-hbogo

As TiVo begins rolling out Amazon Instant Prime and Vudu to Roamio and Mini units, an iOS app update slip up references “HBO Go” amongst supported over-the-top video providers. While the iPhone and iPad software description has since been updated to eradicate HBO Go, we’re hopeful this foreshadows access to the prized streaming service … versus a most amazing amazing typo or mental lapse, as getting a “HBO Go” from Hulu Plus or Vudu seems quite difficult. Make it so!

(Thanks Philip!)

Amidst noise of a second generation Chromecast and a curious Roku IPO, Amazon delivers on spring Techcrunch intel with the Fire TV Stick ($39). Beyond the known Fire TV lineup, Amazon looks to extend screen mirroring support beyond Kindle tablets to capable Android devices. Of course, we’re still awaiting HBO GO and an updated Netflix app and it’s yet to be seen how Plex will run on this diminutive USB-powered HDMI stick. But, at $19, for Amazon Prime members during promotional launch pricing, why not?

apple-sim

Along with Apple’s introduction of the iPad Air 2 comes a new take on the lowly SIM card. Not only does the tablet ship with just about every LTE band and frequency one could want, the hardware is delivered preloaded with an agnostic SIM for network authentication. As T-Mobile’s CEO tweets:

So the Apple SIM theoretically saves Apple some packaging expenses and provides us, the end users, with amazing flexibility – buy the iPad and choose whichever carrier we want at any point after we get it home. And, down the road, we’d be free to flip carriers as coverage or pricing changes. It’s a grand, consumer friendly vision. However, the future hasn’t quite arrived. Due, once again, to short-sighted carrier protectionism (and technical glitches). Continue Reading…