Archives For Gadgets

Along with the new Arlo Gen 5 wirefree camera, the Netgear spinoff is also poised to unveil a somewhat curious pet tracker. As they already promote pet-friendly video monitoring, perhaps this collar tag isn’t an entirely unusual pivot… And, as one Twitter buddy suggests, it’ll likely integrate with the Arlo video line to include/exclude those Fido and Fifi motion alerts or recording.

The refreshed Amazon Echo Dot will make a nice stocking-stuffer, but the newly introduced Google Home Hub could be an excellent holiday gift giving centerpiece. While it features a significantly smaller screen than the competing Amazon Echo Show and sister smart displays… that may actually work to its benefit, in terms of versatility (and contribute to more palatable pricing @ $149). ZNF contributor Adam Miarka picked up a pair and has been quite impressed, especially with its intelligent ambient lighting adjustments compared to Alexa. Jon Maddox, half the team behind Channels, is also a fan:

The new Amazon Echo Dot is out. And Alexa’s reviews have been exceedingly positive. From The Verge:

I’m going to cut right to the chase: the new Echo Dot smart speaker is so much better than its predecessor that it would not be totally out of line to replace a whole houseful of old Echo Dots with new ones. The new Echo Dot looks better, works better, and, most importantly, sounds much better than the prior model. And it still costs the same $49.99.

Beyond the 3rd generation Dot’s vastly superior audio (including stereo pairing), Amazon also up the style quotient with a (larger, but) more refined presentation, including Google-esque fabric-covered speakers… that I’m a-OK with.

While I frequently vacillate between Alexa, Google Assistant, and nothing at all (stop listening to us!)… prior gen Dot audio quality is atrocious and, lately, has only been used to entertain my daughter. Fortunately, Amazon is running a nice Echo upgrade program: get some cash by trading in your prior devices plus 25% off any future Echo device purchase – including these low ticket Dots ($50) and even the new Echo Show ($230). Amazon also covers the return shipping, so it’s a pretty pain-free transaction. As such, I pocketed a whopping $10 Amazon credit by offloading two unused 2nd gen Dots and will hang onto my 25% discount until the inevitable Echo device sale.

Can’t tell you how many devices this applies to, but Amazon wants my buddy’s Cloud Cam back.

About two weeks ago, he had told me the WiFi camera died. He attempted a factory reset, but no love. He hadn’t found time or energy to follow-up with Amazon when, out of the blue, he received a voicemail and an email “message from Amazon’s Engineering Team” (device-recovery@amazon.com) this week stating:

I was calling to talk about one of your Cloud Cam devices. I’d like to get you a replacement Cloud Cam device as soon as possible at no additional cost to you. Additionally, I would like to schedule a pick-up to have the original device delivered to our lab for analysis. Continue Reading…

The Best Fitbit Versa Faces

Dave Zatz —  June 21, 2018

I gotta be honest. I’m jst not completely sold on the Fitbit Versa. It’s decidedly less sophisticated and less premium than the similarly priced Apple Watch. Not to mention, Versa band replacement is just awful. Yet, Apple doesn’t natively provide some of the basics I expect from an activity tracker, such as a simple step complication and sleep metrics — both of which Fitbit handles masterfully. Fitbit also enables 3rd party watchfaces, which is indeed fortuitous as some of the company-produced ones look like Microsoft Paint mock-ups.

My current favorites are Arrow (above), Edgy, and Colors  – all of which can be customized to varying degrees, with Arrow offering tons of options in terms of data and color. Bonus: the developer tells me weather will be coming to all their faces over the coming months. Some Fitbit faces are free, while these run $.99 and $1.99 respectively. As Fitbit doesn’t provide a true store experience, each developer has to work out their own payment and trial methods… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ but their work may be what keeps me from unloading my Versa.

As with every CES, all sorts of sexy gadgetry parades about the various show venues. And, while I wasn’t in attendance this year, you can bet I was obsessively ingesting of the tech blog coverage and press release fire hose. While some swooned over recycled approaches that are unlikely to move markets and televisions only corporate entities could entertain, I found myself smitten with an inexpensive Anker accessory.

The Internet of Everything seemed to be the overarching theme this year, with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant garnering much attention through all sorts of integrations. Yeah, many of these are superfluous with a number of open questions regarding security, privacy, and reliability. But, but gadgets! As such, the $50 Anker Roav VIVA caught my eye. It’s cheap, fun, and … shipping next month — something you can’t say about so many CES unveilings. No, I don’t need Alexa in my car. But that didn’t stop me from driving around with an Echo Dot like Alan Wolk. In many ways, Alexa is largely inferior to the native Android or iPhone voice assistants as an automative communicator (think text messaging and navigation). Yet, Alexa is so much better with random queries and sports a humgo list of skills (and my daughter loves calling Elmo). Continue Reading…

Due to the tremendous number of (accurate) leaks, there weren’t too many surprises from the new Steve Jobs theater located within the new Apple campus. But a couple of interesting items, that I hadn’t anticipated, caught my attention.

Apple TV Price Drop
I was convinced we’d see an Apple TV price drop of some sort, perhaps tied to a touchless-remote on the bottom-end, to bring them inline with the market leading Roku and Fire TV. However, Apple controls the supply chain like no other and is conceivably content with lower penetration but presumably larger margins. While not quite a surprise, again given those leaks, it was refreshing to see Apple will sell 4K movies for the same price as 1080P while upgrading existing purchases… for those who consume in that manner, anyway.

Expansive iPhone Lineup
While both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were correctly predicted, in hardware if not name, I didn’t expect Apple would keep around so many former generations of phone. To meet a wide array of budgets and fend off the onslaught of solid lower-end Android handsets, the iPhone SE, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, and 7 Plus will join the 8, 8 Plus, and X on store shelves – in multiple capacities and colors. At least for now. Remember when they offered a single model? Beyond the expansive lineup, Apple is clearly committed to offering more than two years of updates (unlike the competition) — not that it’s a new m.o., but I do wonder if at some point they choose to fork the software a bit and continue to provide security patches to older OSes on hardware that cannot support the latest and greatest.

Continue Reading…