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June 2012 Archives

June 4, 2012

NewerTech Power2U AC Wall Outlet with USB Charging Ports

Our gadgets may be wireless and mobile, but after being out and about all day they still need to come home and plug in to a USB cable in order to recharge for their next adventure.

As a result, your home starts to get cluttered with USB power adapters, hanging from the kitchen wall, or an extension cord by the TV, squeezed into a power strip by the computer, or crammed onto the bedroom table.

What's wrong with this picture? We already have perfectly good power outlets in every room of our homes. So why not leverage your existing electrical wiring to add USB power?

This is the head-smacking sensibleness of the NewerTech Power2U AC Wall Outlet, which augments the standard pair of 3-prong AC outlets with two integrated USB ports.

The Power2U outlet charges devices from MP3 players to digital cameras, and from the iPhone and other smartphones up to the iPad and tablets.

It uses standard USB cables, including the one that came with your device, and has a Smart Power design that outputs the charging power level required by the attached device.

The outlets are UL listed, and include spring-loaded safety shutters to cover the USB connector and turn USB power off when the cable is removed.

Again, this is an in-wall AC electrical receptacle, and installs on standard 15 Amp circuits with at least a 16 cubic inch electrical box.

The NewerTech Power2U AC Wall Outlet is available for around $29, and is available in colors to match existing installations (white, light almond, ivory, and black).

Find the NewerTech Power2U Outlet on Amazon.com

June 10, 2012

Just Mobile Gum Plus - Portable Battery for iPhone / iPad

I've written about several mobile accessories from Just Mobile, including the AluPen Pro Stylus and the Slide iPad Stand, both with the trademark "design objects" look and feel of solid metal.

But the Just Mobile line also includes power accessories, including car chargers and the Gum line of portable batteries in rounded solid aluminum cases.

These include the thumb-sized Gum compact charger with 2200 mAh capacity, the Gum Pro with 4400 mAh (around $55), and the bulkier Gum Max for tablets with 10,400 mAh (around $90).

But the newly-updated Gum Plus provides a nice balance of relatively compact size with high capacity suitable for charging iPads and tablets in addition to iPhones and smartphones.

(The stats: It's 3.1 x 2.3 x 0.9 in., with 5.200 mAh capacity (up from 4400) and 2.1A current output. The case has 5 LED lights to display the power level.)

These batteries have two USB connectors -- they charge your devices from a standard USB connector (i.e., using the cable that came with your device), and then recharge the battery through a separate miniUSB connector.

The Gum Plus (new version) is now available for around $74, in silver, black, red, and titanium.

Find the Just Mobile Gum Plus on Amazon.com

June 28, 2012

CE Week NY - Hearing About Audio

Consumer Electronics Week NY is this week at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street. This annual event brings the Consumer Electronics Association to New York, to help start thinking about new developments for the fall and holidays. (CEA is best known for the huge Consumer Electronics Show each January in Las Vegas -- see previous post.)

CE Week includes the CEA Line Shows and Digital Downtown Conference, with over 120 exhibiting companies and two days of discussions of the big trends in CE by key executives. The exhibitors range from big names like Sony, RCA, Pioneer, and Monster to a fascinating range of smaller companies with innovative products.

The event also adds partner conferences including the 2nd Screen Summit on augmenting TV with your tablet, Developer University, Digital Media Wire, Eureka Park Challenge, gdgt, Living in Digital Times, Mobile Apps Showdown, Techlicious, and Women in CE.

A major trend at this year's show is the growing interest in audio, both in terms of listening quality, and as a stylish accessory. From a big press conference splash by Monster for its new line of performance headphones, to a profusion of smaller companies with headsets and wireless speakers, it's clear that this is going to be fun -- with a profusion of styles (metal to leather to wood) and colors, and the ability to customize as never before to create your own look.

June 29, 2012

Holiday Outlook from CE Week NY

The Digital Downtown Conference at this week's CE Week NY event (see previous post) included a market update on the Consumer Electronics industry from Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist and Director of Research for the CEA.

For a quick sense of the tone of DuBravac's presentation, check out the title -- "Mid-Year Update: A Meltdown in the Second Half?" Luckily, the news was not quite that bad -- although 2012 looks to be a "tough" year, albeit at least without growth turning negative.

This would be worse than last year's nearly 8% growth -- but all of that came from tablets and smartphones, and 2011 would have been negative without them. (In fact, smartphones and tablets surpassed all other computing devices back in 2010, and this year smartphones alone will surpass all computing, including tablets.)

Hot Products

According to CEA consumer surveys of expected purchases over the next couple of years, the strongest interest is focused on tablets and smartphones, plus Internet-enabled TVs. These connected TVs have grown from around 10% of LCD volume to reach around 25% by the end of this year.

Another contributor to growth is the growing number of devices in households. We now have almost 3 TVs per home and almost 2 smartphones. Meanwhile, tablets have increased quickly from 17 million units only two years ago in 2010 to over 120M in 2012, reaching 1.4 per household -- as we trade up to the newest models, and hand down the older ones.

And with PCs, households average 1.7 notebooks and 1.4 desktops, plus 1.2 netbooks. This market is showing a boost from new ultrabook models.

Holiday Deals

Finally, DuBravac looked ahead to the holiday shopping season, stressing the growing importance of "Black Friday" to excite consumer interest and drive sales. The Black Friday concept even has spilled over to international markets, although it's obviously hindered by the absence of the U.S.-based Thanksgiving holiday.

Black Friday also is creeping into Thursday, with 8 a.m. Friday store openings pushed forward to 5 a.m. or up to midnight, which seems to be here to stay. Some experimentation with openings at 10 p.m. on Thursday seems to have been successful, but trials with 8 p.m. Thursday may actually be too early even for sale-crazed consumers.

So if you're one of those people eager for deals on CE products for the holiday, keep a lookout for manufacturers to provide incentives around late October / early November, particularly in the form of timed deals with looming expiration dates.

And you may want to act quickly, instead of hoping for late deals or clearance sales. Retailers did not restock in January after the last holiday season, and the volatile economic landscape is causing both manufacturers and retailers to keep inventories lean heading into this fall -- so a surge in demand may mean your dream device is no longer available!

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About June 2012

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

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