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January 2012 Archives

January 1, 2012

CES 2012 is Next Week

It's the new year, so the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is back for 2012, returning to Las Vegas from Tuesday, January 10 through Friday, January 13, 2012, for an extravaganza of electronic devices, from smartphones and tablets, to big-screen TV and gaming, to smart homes and even autos.

The show is produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which reports that CES continues to be the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, and the largest tradeshow of any kind in North America.

Last year's CES expanded to almost 150,000 attendees, growing from the low of 113,000 in the crash of 2009 to exceed the peak of over 140,000 in 2007 - 2008. With another 140,000-some people expected again this year, the show is seriously stressing the facilities in Vegas, and transportation is a significant challenge.

The number of exhibitors also is holding strong, increasing slightly in 2011 to around 2,700, with growing presence from non-U.S. companies (although Microsoft has announced that it will not be returning after this year, which opens up a very attractive location on the exhibit floor). The result is a lot of walking, as the show floor is spread out over an area larger than 35 (American) football fields.

There also will be over 20 TechZones grouping new technology markets, including a new Eureka Park for start-ups. The fastest growing TechZone is the iLounge Pavilion, with third-party accessories and software for the Apple iPod, iPhone, iPad and Macintosh.

CES 2011: Attendees in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (CEA)

As in previous years, the gadget blogs and tech publications will be out in force at CES, with teams live blogging the new announcements for hot-off-the-press coverage. I'll update my annual summary document with links to these sources and other coverage of the show.

See my 2012 International CES Summary article for information on the show, facilities, Las Vegas, exhibits, conference program, and press events -- plus links to more information and press / blog coverage.

January 6, 2012

Jabra SPORT Bluetooth Stereo Headset

Bluetooth is great for voice when talking on your mobile phone with headsets like the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD (see earlier post), and works nicely for wireless peripherals to use a mouse or keyboard with your laptop or tablet.

But more and more Bluetooth is for music. At home you can go wireless with products like the Logitech Wireless Boombox (see post) or Logitech Wireless Headset (see post).

So when you find yourself using your smartphone more as a music player than as a phone, then there's an obvious flaw with using a tiny Bluetooth headset in one ear to listen to two-channel stereo music.

You can plug in wired earphones to enjoy your music when you're travelling or exercising, but they're clumsy to juggle between music and calls.

Instead, check out the Jabra SPORT Bluetooth stereo headset, with a pair of earpieces that fit comfortably behind the ear, especially while you're in motion and sweating.

The two earpieces are connected by a cord that runs behind your head, but the connection to your smartphone (or other media player) is Bluetooth wireless, so you can play music, with volume and skip controls, and switch over to pick up phone calls.

For playing streaming music, the SPORT features bass boost and Virtual Surround Sound audio enhancement. It also includes a built-in FM radio with auto-search, although you'll probably want to set it to one favorite station since skipping manually through stations without any visual feedback can be painful.

And the SPORT is designed for workouts, with U.S. military grade rain, dust and shock protection and a wind-shielded microphone.

It also includes a free download of the Endomondo Sports Tracker app that work with iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry smartphones as a motivational tool for running, updating your speed, distance, and times with GPS tracking.

The Jabra SPORT Bluetooth stereo headset is available for around $99, and the companion non-wireless SPORT-CORDED stereo headset is around $69. No sweat.

See my Audio Accessories Gallery for details and related products.

And see my Holiday Gadgets 2011: Portable and Wireless feature for more on Bluetooth headsets and other holiday goodies.

Find the Jabra SPORT headset on Amazon.com

January 16, 2012

CES 2012: Bigger, Lighter, Thinner, Connected

The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was huge this year, bringing some 153,000 attendees to Las Vegas -- a jump of around 14,000 over last year. The Vegas infrastructure survived the onslaught, with long lines for food and taxis and buses, but the traffic still moved through the streets.

The exhibit halls were crowded, but you could still move around, see the displays, and even talk to the exhibitors. Of course, it helped that the crowd was spread out among 3100 exhibitors in 1.86 million net square feet of exhibit space (both new records for CES). That includes the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, plus ballrooms and suites in the adjoining Hilton (just renamed to the LVH) and the Venetian.

It may help to visualize the magnitude of this area as larger than 35 (American) football fields, with booths set up along the yard lines.

(CEA photo of the crowd of attendees in the hallway outside the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Note that this is not the exhibition -- It's just part of the hallway that runs along one side of one hall of the convention center.)

The big topics this year at CES included:

  • Ultrabooks: Small and light and stylish laptops (the PC industry's answer to Apple's MacBook Air). Remember netbooks, which were too underpowered and sluggish? Ultrabooks promise to remove the compromises, with power and capacity to be a useful laptop. (Expect a big marketing push from Intel and its partners.)

  • Thin TV: Flat-screen TVs, with thickness and surrounding bezels measures in millimeters instead of inches. These look like a sheet of glass from the side, and the minimization of the surrounding frame can make them appear to float in the air .

  • Smart TV: Connected TVs and Blu-ray players that integrate with the Internet to provide browsing and apps like smartphones and tablets, and which provide deeper interaction with you though voice and gesture control, and even face recognition to personalize for your preferences. (Yes, your TV now has a camera and microphone to watch and listen to you.)

  • Digital Health: A profusion of devices to monitor your health and exercise, and connect to smartphone apps for analysis and coaching. (Your digital scale will post your daily weigh-in to your Twitter feed.)

  • UltraViolet: A Hollywood-approved "digital locker" for your purchased movies and TV shows, so you can buy once and then view across a wide variety of devices, from desktop to set-top to mobile. This is just starting to roll out, but holds the promise of being sensible and useful.

See my 2012 International CES Summary article for information on the show, facilities, Las Vegas, exhibits, conference program, and press events -- plus links to more information and press / blog coverage.

January 21, 2012

Newer Tech NuTouch Gloves to Touch in the Cold

Baby it's cold outside -- But when you're wearing your mittens you can't control your iPhone or even answer a call. Today's touchscreens use capacitive screens, which detect your finger because your body is an electrical conductor.

But mittens and gloves are insulators, so the screen does not respond when you're wearing them. The answer, then, is to weave conductive tread into the fingers of your gloves.

For example, the Newer Tech NuTouch Gloves have conductive fiber woven into all ten fingertips -- and all around the finger, not just for the finger pad.

You then can freely use your touch screen devices in the cold, and tap, swipe, scroll, and type with the tip or side of any finger.

The NuTouch gloves are made from a soft cotton mix (52% cotton), and are relatively thin, so you also can use as liners with heavier gloves.

They're available in a charcoal color for $19.99 ($13 street), sized from small to extra large.

See my article on Portable Accessories 2012 for more on portable audio, portable power, and cases.

Find the Newer Tech NuTouch Gloves on Amazon.com

January 24, 2012

Adobe Premiere Elements Goes To 10

The tenth edition of Adobe's best-selling consumer video and photo editing products, Premiere Elements 10 and Photoshop Elements 10, continues Adobe's focus on providing deep technical power to create impressive results, but packaged behind a friendly interface and extensive automated assists (see post on previous version).

Both Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements include a separate common Organizer tool, used to import media files from various devices and then organize and tag them. You can also apply basic photo fixes and create photo albums, and share photos and videos directly online. Then you can launch the individual applications for more extensive photo or video editing.

The applications prove a consumer-friendly interface with tabs for different processing steps, plus how-tos and Guided Edit support. Plus, they apply enhanced technology from professional editing, including People Recognition in photos and the Three Way Color Corrector for video.

However, these Elements applications are not for the casual user. They are designed for photo and video enthusiasts interested in investing effort to organize and manage your media with the assistance of automated analysis. This investment then pays off as you can leverage the media information to do a better job of finding the right clips and enhancing your productions.

See my full article in Videomaker Magazine - Adobe Premiere/ Photoshop Elements 10 Editing Software Review

See summaries of video applications and versions in my Video Editing Software Gallery.

    Find Adobe Premiere Elements 10
    and bundle with Photoshop Elements 10 on Amazon.com

Premiere Elements 10 - Autotone effect

January 29, 2012

Mighty Dwarf Resonating Speaker with microSD

Small speakers were quite visible at CES (see earlier post), with mini boxes and cylinders that can come along in your bag to boost the sound of your smartphone or tablet. At a couple inches in size, however, while these do better than built-in speakers, they really aren't particularly powerful.

One nice way of getting more sound from small speakers comes from vibrating designs that have you position the speaker on a flat surface so the sound can resonate to give you 360 degree omni-directional sound (see earlier post). You can get amazing sound from surfaces like wood, glass, metal, walls, mirrors, and cardboard, especially if they have an enclosed air gap like a desk or even a simple cardboard box.

The Mighty Dwarf 5W Vibration Speaker is a nice example of this kind of approach, with some very interesting bonus features. It's a small cylinder, 2.25 inches tall by 2 inches in diameter, and chunky at 11 1/2 ounces so it makes strong contact with the surface.

For even better resonating action, the Mighty Dwarf has a sticky gel pad on the base to temporarily adhere to the surface. It also has has a screw mount on the base that can attach to accessories for a more permanent connection, including a glass mount (suction cup) or wood mount (woods screws).

To hook up to your portable player, the Mighty Dwarf comes with a dual-purpose cable with a miniUSB connector at one end to plug into the speaker, and the other end split into both a 3.5mm stereo audio jack and a USB jack. Plug the audio jack into your device to play music, or plug in the USB jack to recharge the internal battery. There's also a LED to warn when the battery is low.

But there's more -- The Mighty Dwarf also has a microSD slot, so you can insert a memory card with MP3 music files, and use the speaker as a stand-alone media player. The final addition is the play controller -- push to stop/start play, flick to skip forward/back to the next song, and press and hold to adjust the volume.

The Mighty Dwarf 5W speaker is available for around $49. There's also the Mighty Dwarf 26W model with external amplifier, and a Bluetooth speaker coming.

See my article on Portable Accessories 2012 for more on portable audio, portable power, and cases.

Find the Mighty Dwarf 5W Vibration Speaker on Amazon.com

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About January 2012

Entries posted to Manifest Tech Blog in January 2012, listed from oldest to newest.

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