The market for hands-free devices is growing very quickly. This growth has been driven by multiple factors including legal ones. In some states they are required for driving which has been pushing the market forward. Sadly, the market has not really moved forward over the last few years. The devices have gotten smaller, but the feature set and battery life has not changed much. Jabra has been working on changing that over the last year and have come out with some great new hands-free kits including the Jabra Eclipse which is what we are taking a look at today.
One area that is booming in the consumer electronic field is health and fitness wearables. For the last year or so we have watched multiple new products hit the market as this particular vertical tries to find an identity. One of the items that we have been able to take a deeper look at in the lab is the Jabra Sport Pulse Bluetooth headphones. These are interesting because in addition to being headphones they can also take your pulse and track progress through different workouts. Let’s take a look and see if these stand out from the crowd or if they are just another device in the sea of also rans.
Connected devices are becoming the wave of the future. We already have TVs, refrigerators, and even cars that can call us and let us know how they are doing. These devices reach out through the internet in most cases and talk to applications on our phones or they allow us to dial in and see what is going on. Now while these devices are nice, what do you do if you do not own one of these? How do you get your car to talk to you when it has no built in Bluetooth? PAPAGO! has an interesting option to give you a look into one of the many systems on your vehicle if it is not capable of communicating to you on its own. We will be taking a look at the PAPAGO! GoSafe TPMS 500BT (Tire Pressure Management System) and see just how handy it is.
There is no doubt that the mobile market is beginning to become the focus of hardware manufacturers. In many ways this market is eclipsing what we are seeing for more mainstream computer systems. One of the biggest reasons for this is that while most people will own a phone or portable media player only a fraction of that group will own a desktop computer. Because of this the demand for high-quality components and accessories has been growing at an exponential rate. Even companies that were once dedicated to the more traditional “PC” are starting to build devices for the mobile market. A couple of areas that are growing very quickly are power and audio. Here you have two very vital functions that anyone with a mobile device needs to think about. You have to have power to keep things going and most (if not all) will want a way to listen to their media on more than just the bundled set of headphones. Today we are taking a look at a product from LUXA2 that addresses both of these areas with style. So let us introduce the LUXA2 GroovyW Bluetooth speaker set and wireless charging unit.
There is an old (very old) adage that says: if you connect it to the internet, it can be hacked. A more accurate one would be; if you can interact with it in any way, it can be hacked. We have seen this time and time again as the idea of remote administration and monitoring has taken off like a rocket. So far everything from Bluetooth keyboards to Wi-Fi accessible pace makers have been laid out to exploit. The makers of these products were only thinking of making these easier to use and keep track of. They never imagined that someone would use that same connection for malicious purposes (or simply did not bother to prepare for that). When many of these products were developed the idea of hacking on the level we see it was the stuff of fantasy so some of their failures can be excused (as long as they fix the issues). However, what cannot be forgiven is the continued lack of forethought when it comes to newer connected devices; especially something like a smart toilet.
Motorola has launched their wireless headphones the S11-FLEX HD, and they indeed look impressive. Not only do they wrap around the neck, but are also ear buds that wrap around the ear. This will surely be very attractive to anyone who likes to do any sort of activities like hiking, mountain biking or jogging. They are not just practical but also have very nice design. The primary colors are blue and silver, with orange circles around the ear buds. The problem with these headphones and with the “wrap around the neck design” is that they are usually only come in one size and if you consider that people have different heads, the obstacle becomes quite obvious. However, that is not the case with this model; they have an adjustable inner strap so they should be good for everybody’s head.
Next week Apple’s new iPhone is expected to be announced with a new dock connector. It is still a secret exactly what kind of a dock it will be. Some rumors are that the old 30-pin dock will just get an adapter although it is not known if it will work only on the newest iPhones or also with the older ones. The current dock design has been present from the very beginning and after 9 years could really use a replacement. Many companies are already planning to overcome this (if there is actually a change) with Bluetooth enabled parts that will provide music or video output. So far most of the rumors are around auris by Touchkraft LLC and CoolStream. While auris is a kickstarter project that is yet to be funded, you can buy CoolStream for $39.99 from Amazon.
Straight from the Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas we have some bad news for the Apple fans. It seems that the myth surrounding the security of the iPhone is starting to crack around the edges. This is something that we predicted would happen when the trend to use Smartphones for common net tasks first started appearing. It only make sense that malicious coders would start hitting out smart phones after all. I mean how many people use their phones for banking, personal and work email, store passwords to online accounts in their phones with password lockers and more. To be honest, considering the number of smart phones in use, we are surprised that it has taken this long.
In our continuing coverage of the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WB we are moving into the performance side of things. Here is where it becomes difficult to differentiate between companies. The problem is that if you are testing Z77 Express based motherboards you are testing very similar platforms. It is only when you start adding in features to the mix that they separate. So the big deal here is how well do these products perform when you throw in all the advertised features (or at least as many as will work at once)? This is what we try to do with our performances testing. In our feature and design review we showed you what the Z77X-UD5H has to offer, and now we will show you how well it performs when you ask it to give you all of that at once.
One of the things that make Asus products so enticing is simply the number of add-in features that you get with almost every level of product. I am not sure if all of these features would ever be used by one single consumer, but they are there and all of them work. These little extras can make it challenging to properly review an Asus board (they certainly take more time to test out properly) as most of these are not just simple software adds. With the launching of Asus’ X79 line up the feature list increased as Asus pushed more of the ROG line’s signature items down into the top level of the mainstream products. It makes for some very well rounded products. While we were busy testing out the normal feature set we also had to find ways to cover some of the new items like SSD caching and USB 3.0 Boost for both performance and ease of use. We have already told you about the features, let’s get into the performance numbers and see what we have with the Asus P9X79 Deluxe.