Divoom Bluetooth speakers offer big sound in a small package

By Jim Gresham on Dec 17, 2014

The market is crowded with Bluetooth speakers. Every time you turn around, there is someone selling another Bluetooth speaker. They are an excellent iOS device accessory and I recommend having at least one. Of course, they run the full range of prices and I have had my hands on cheap and expensive several hundred dollar models.

When choosing a speaker, it is important to decide what is most important to you. Do you need one small enough to throw in your bag or do you prefer a home theater style option that can shake the walls with crisp and booming sound? Divoom is on the lower end of the Bluetooth spectrum. Providing small packaged, portable Bluetooth speakers with a rugged edge is the niche market for the Texas based company, which sent them over for review. Read More

 

The Stratus XL controller takes iOS gaming to the next level [review + giveaway]

By Jim Gresham on Dec 15, 2014

Since Apple announced MFi controller support for iOS games, fewer options appeared than originally anticipated. The reason for a slow response is a bit surprising. However, my point of view is slightly skewed as an iOS accessory hardware reviewer. Still, I cannot imagine why app developers would not want to build in the support. Even more shocking is the small list of hardware options.

At CES 2014, it seemed like controllers would be the new thing. Unfortunately, several companies I chatted with never released their controller. We have come a long way since January 2014 and a full year plus another six months since the MFi controller support protocol released at WWDC.

SteelSeries was one of the first companies to-market with their SteelSeries Stratus. The Stratus was an extremely small MFi controller, but perfect for on-the-go gamers. Recently, they released the Stratus XL, a full sized battle tested design, similar to a true console handheld. After settling down with the XL, it changed the way I look at iOS as a gaming platform. Read More

 

Never forget to water your plants again with the Parrot Flower Power smart sensor

By Jim Gresham on Dec 11, 2014

No one in my home has a green thumb. Sure, like any normal family we have some decorative blooms around the house, but nothing to get too crazy over. Mostly because we are a family on the go, plants suffer in both the summer and winter, when the weather is most extreme. If plants could talk, right?

Well, Parrot developed a way to get the data you need about plants, simply by walking by. While we may be too busy to notice a plant while rushing past, what if you could receive a shout of desperation. A plant begging you for water through a push notification is hard to ignore. Read More

 

Control up to five Bluetooth devices with the Satechi wireless keyboard

By Jim Gresham on Dec 8, 2014

Apple only produces a small wireless keyboard, which is frustrating for users that require the benefits of a full sized option. Using an Apple wireless keyboard for home use is usually manageable. However, using a reduced keyboard in the office is more of a struggle. The lack of a number pad is extremely complicated when entering digit data and the like.

Why Apple is yet to produce a full size, Bluetooth keyboard is beyond understanding. Third party companies are starting to enter the space with designs that compliment Macs. For several years, Logitech and other companies offered wireless keyboards, but they are bulky and clash with Apple’s aesthetic. Satechi’s Wireless Smart Keyboard is filling the gap. Read More

 

Selfy case kinda turns your iPhone into a GoPro

By Jim Gresham on Dec 7, 2014

Where do I even begin talking about selfies? Everyone loves a good selfie. They are wildly popular across the world, even causing South Korea to ban “unregulated” selfie stick sales. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, and other forms of popular social media channels are completely filled with selfies. What caused our self obsession will never be explained, but the selfie is here to stay.

The selfie stick was one of the first hardware selfie assistants. I saw them around touristy places when I traveled, but didn’t think much of them about a year ago. Now, they are increasingly popular and being utilized in everyday places. Several iterations of selfie-inspired accessories cropped up and iLuv is capitalizing on the fad. Launching “selfy,” iLuv guarantees you will always have a quick way to snap a selfie and includes a laundry list of add-ons to assist. Read More

 

Your iPhone becomes virtual room key in select Starwood hotels beginning Wednesday

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 3, 2014

Following an extensive pilot program of a new SPG Keyless service at select Manhattan and Silicon Valley locations since January 2014, Starwood Hotels & Resorts has now begun rolling out virtual room keys that do away with key cards altogether to let guests enter their rooms using smartphones.

Beginning this Wednesday, ten Starwood properties around the world under the Starwood’s Aloft, Element and W brands will allow guests to walk past the check-in desk and enter their rooms by using an iPhone as a room key.

This includes hotels in Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and Doha, the company said in a media release Monday. The service is set to become available on 30,000 doors in 150 hotels around the globe by early 2015. Read More

 

Square refreshes Cash for iPhone with Bluetooth money transfer ability

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 7, 2014

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s mobile payments startup, Square, on Tuesday issued a nice update to its free Cash for iPhone software which now allows you to transfer money via short-range Bluetooth networking using a new “Nearby Payments” feature.

This is in addition to the ability to send money via text message, email or mobile phone numbers (for free), a feature the startup added to the Cash app in late-August 2014. This release of Cash also features the ability to quickly approve or decline money requests with actionable push notifications and contains other improvements and bug fixes.

Square Cash is a free download from the App Store. Read More

 

The MOTO TC is a fun iPhone controlled rally race car

By Jim Gresham on Oct 6, 2014

If you are ready to hit the pavement, I suggest grabbing the Griffin MOTO TC Rally iPhone controlled toy car. That’s right, no additional hardware is required, just your iPhone and the Bluetooth 4.0 controlled race car. As a child, teenager, and even as an adult, one of the biggest rushes in the toy world is remote controlling a toy car. Growing up, I used to make race tracks in the pine needles behind my parent’s house. Not much has changed.

Bringing my childhood excitement in line with the 21st century, the MOTO TC is not only iPhone controlled, but also utilizes virtual damage control, weapon systems, and can monitor lap times. It is essentially like playing a console racing game, but with actual hardware. Read More

 

The Truffol DuraSound offers big sound with small footprint

By Jim Gresham on Oct 3, 2014

There is an assortment of Bluetooth speakers on the market and almost any accessory maker thinks they should enter the flooded marketplace. With that attitude, your product should bring something a little different to the crowd. Truffol’s DuraSound exists somewhere between business professional and outdoor appropriate.

DuraSound has a very conservative, simple, rectangular design, with a flat matte finished front and back grill. This simple design with clean edges and finishes makes it suitable for the office. In contrast, the color-matched silicon bumper allows the device to be toted around for after hour drinks. Read More

 

iOS 8 causing Bluetooth issues for some users

By Cody Lee on Oct 1, 2014

If you’re having problems with Bluetooth in iOS 8, you’re not alone. A number of users are reporting Bluetooth connection bugs after updating to the firmware, or purchasing a new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus—particularly when trying to pair their handsets to their vehicles.

Looking at this lengthy thread on Apple.com, and this one in the MacRumors forums, the issues appear to be fairly widespread. Within the last two weeks, users have complained of hitches including not being able to pair their devices at all, and random disconnects. Read More

 

Orcas Bluetooth earbuds are designed for an active lifestyle

By Jim Gresham on Sep 21, 2014

You are pumping iron at the gym. You are training for the half marathon. You are cooking in the kitchen. You are commuting on the train. You are listening to Let’s Talk iOS on the couch. All of these scenarios, have you tethered to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod with a corded headset. Nothing is more annoying than ripping your iPhone off the treadmill at the gym because you accidentally caught your headphone cable while reaching for a bottle of water.

I am the guy that wraps his iPhone in a sturdy case at the gym because I just cannot seem to stop dropping it. If I had a pair of wireless headphones, all of my problems would be solved. While Bluetooth headphones have been a thing for some time, I have only stumbled across over the ear cans or giant muffs. No one wants to use a giant pair of headphones while doing a physical activity except people who love their Beats. Take a step inside to read about the Orcas Bluetooth earbuds, my new favorite pair of activity minded buds that were sent over by Outdoor Tech.  Read More

 

Read this before upgrading your iPhone 4s to iOS 8

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 17, 2014

Think twice before updating your rusty old iPhone 4s to the just-released iOS 8 because Apple’s feature-packed upgrade makes its handset run most tasks about two times (or more) slower.

iOS 8 will slow down common tasks on the handset, including approximately two times slower launching of stock apps, almost three seconds longer booting and more, ArsTechnica reported Wednesday.

In addition to the performance hit, the three-year-old handset is incompatible with certain hardware-dependent iOS 8 features such as Handoff, AirDrop, the OpenGL ES 3.0 and Metal graphics run-time and more. Read More

 

Share one Bluetooth keyboard between multiple devices with the Multi-Sync Keyboard

By Jim Gresham on Aug 30, 2014

Have you ever used a Bluetooth keyboard with your iPad? Sure, you have! All serious iPad users have, at one time, tried to use a Bluetooth keyboard with their favorite tablet. I tried to use an external keyboard on several occasions with my iPad, not just for reviews either.

The same can be said for iPhone. In fact, at one time I was searching mini Bluetooth keyboards to keep on my desk, just to make iMessaging easier. That was before my OS X days. During the course of any day, I almost always keep my iPhone and iPad in a dock or stand next to my computer. Being a user of multi-devices, there are certain tasks I like to accomplish on each device.

Complicating my movement from device to device in a serious work environment is input. Typing on an iPhone or iPad’s virtual keyboard is not the best experience, and that is coming from a fanboy. What would be perfect, is a wireless keyboard that operates either devices without the hassle of re-pairing each time. What would be perfect is the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard. Read More

 

The Big Turtle Shell and its 2.0 sidekick are Bluetooth speakers that can handle the elements

By Jim Gresham on Aug 24, 2014

I’m partial to having a speaker in almost every room of the house. There is no particular reason why and, after thinking about it, I am not really that into music. However it is nice to always have some jams going in the background. Thanks to Outdoor Tech, I can have music going in one room, but still hear it in the next. Or, if I am rocking out in the neighborhood pool, I am loud enough to get in trouble.

After meeting with Outdoor Tech at CES, I was really excited about both the Big Turtle Shell and the Turtle Shell 2.0. If you can recall, I reviewed the Turtle Shell gen. 1, and was pretty impressed. In fact, the Turtle Shell has not left my kitchen, except for a couple of roadie tours, for a complete year. I have access to a lot of gear, so it is definitely a credit to the product for any one to make it a full year.

I must admit, the Turtle Shell has been de-throned, in favor of the 2.0 version and the big brother, Big Turtle Shell. Read More

 

Apple iBeacon hardware revealed in FCC filings

By Cody Lee on Jul 13, 2014

Apple’s iBeacon technology has seen a lot of success in its first year. The tech, which allows administrators to push data to smartphones based on their location, has already been adopted by a number of retailers and organizations.

But thus far, Apple’s success with iBeacons has been limited to software, as it’s left the hardware up to third-party firms. It looks like that’s about to change, though, as FCC filings reveal that the company has built its own iBeacon… Read More

 

Divoom Voombox-Travel is an ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker for the outdoorsman

By Joe Rossignol on Jun 20, 2014

When I went to the Consumer Electronics Show last year, I was surprised at just how many companies in the iLounge Pavilion were showcasing wireless Bluetooth speakers. I’ve always questioned the purpose of these speakers, since I have a surround sound setup in my office or simply consider my MacBook Pro speakers to be good enough when I’m out and about.

A recent outdoor event in which I only had my iPhone on me quickly changed my perspective. If you’ve ever tried listening to music through the iPhone speakers, you probably agree that the smartphone sounds pretty awful. Thankfully, I had packed an ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker in my backpack. It’s called the Divoom Voombox-Travel, and I offer a full review ahead…  Read More

 

Yosemite’s Handoff feature may not be compatible with all Macs

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 16, 2014

Handoff, arguably the coolest feature of the upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite, may not be available to all Mac users. In case you’re not familiar with Handoff, it’s part of Continuity, a new feature designed for seamless transitioning between iOS devices and Macs.

“Now your Mac knows the last thing you were doing on your iOS device and vice versa,” Apple’s Yosemite webpage explains. “So you can start something on one device and instantly pick it up on another.”

As noted by a German blog, Handoff relying on short-range Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity is a strong indication that you’ll need a relatively new Mac model in order to take advantage of the feature… Read More

 

How to force remove a paired Bluetooth device from your iPhone

By Sébastien Page on Jun 11, 2014

I had this strange problem happening for a while on my iPhone 5s where I was unable to forget a Bluetooth device that had been paired before. I did have the option, but it just wouldn’t work, which I must say led to frustrating moments of cursing and yelling at my iPhone.

But as it turned out, the problem came from the fact that my iPhone 5s was jailbroken, and some tweak I had installed was causing the issue. When I realized that, it didn’t take long until I was able to fix the issue.

While I don’t doubt you already know how to do just that, I will show you how to delete Bluetooth devices that are connected to your iPhone, but I will also share with you how I fixed my issue at the same time, so that if the problem ever happens to you, you’ll know what to do right away… Read More

 

Firmware update brings Multi Play and other new features to Mini Jambox

By Cody Lee on May 14, 2014

Jawbone yesterday released a significant firmware update for some of its Bluetooth speakers. The free update, which is specifically for the Mini Jambox, brings about several new features including Multi Play, LiveAudio, and more.

Jambox owners will probably be most interested in Multi Play, which enables you to wirelessly connect two of the bluetooth speakers for either double the volume, or to separate left and right channel audio for stereo-like playback… Read More

 

AutoBlue: enable or disable Bluetooth connectivity based on Wi-Fi connection

By Jeff Benjamin on Apr 30, 2014

AutoBlue is a smart idea wrapped into a somewhat unassuming package. It disables Bluetooth when connected to your home Wi-Fi network, and reenables Bluetooth when disconnected from the Wi-Fi network.

The goal of AutoBlue is to save battery life by keeping Bluetooth disabled when it’s not needed. Of course, this is only useful if you don’t use Bluetooth at home, and there’s really no telling how much battery life you actually save by disabling a Bluetooth connection when it’s not in use in the first place.

But it’s still a good idea if you happen to meet the criteria necessary to not make this tweak a hinderance. Check out our video walkthrough of AutoBlue in action after the fold. Read More

 
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