Rumors continue to swirl regarding the Apple TV set-top box. One rumor is that Apple will be adding gaming and an App Store for the device sometime within the next six weeks. My hunch is that there's a good chance for this happening. In addition, there have been rumors that we'll see a new Apple TV device in the first half of this year. Now, according to a post on 9To5Mac, we have confirmation of a new device. Buried in iOS 7 is a reference to the forthcoming device, alongside references to the already-available versions. It's referenced as AppleTV4,1, with the previous iteration being AppleTV 3,2. The post says that the jump in increment to 4 suggests that the box will be a major upgrade rather than a minor update. 9To5Mac also notes that the previous Apple TV was introduced in March 2012, so it would make sense that March would be the month for the announcement for a new generation of the device.
If and when Apple ever decides to incorporate a wireless charging solution in future iDevices, it will be a killer feature for sure. But until then, it's up to third-party accessory manufacturers to step up to the plate. One system that I've had the pleasure to use is the iPort Charge Case and Stand for iPad mini with Retina display ($99.95).
What is Apple up to? The evidence just keeps mounting for a major focus on health and fitness. Today Apple posted a job listing seeking exercise physiologists. We already know they've hired a number of top people with expertise in areas such as medical sensors and health-monitoring equipment. The people being recruited by today's ad, which has now been taken down, would be asked to "design and run user studies related to cardiovascular fitness & energy expenditure, including calories burned, metabolic rate, aerobic fitness level measurement/tracking and other key physiological measurements…" The website 9To5Mac has posted a screen shot of the ad. Qualifications for the positions include experience with health-monitoring equipment, measuring calorie expenditure, key fitness indicators, and exercise testing. 9To5Mac says the ad suggests that Apple is moving into the development phase, which will entail product testing.
Portability is becoming an increasingly important factor for consumer electronics these days. With smartphones, laptops, and tablets getting thinner every year, the trend is spreading to other entertainment devices as well. Enter the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2000 ($899), a 3LCD 1080p projector capable of both 2D and 3D video playback.
With the growing popularity of mobile devices like iPhones and iPads, there has been a flood of high quality wireless Bluetooth audio gear addressing the limitations of iOS hardware built-in speakers. Not to be left out of this expanding market, Creative Labs has improved on their initial wireless speaker design with the release of their Sound BlasterAxx Axx200 sound system. How does it stack up against similarly priced competitors? Read on to find out.
Since 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been saying there are new products in the pipeline. Yet so far we've only had updates for existing products. But it's self-evident that they're up to something health-related, given the people they're hiring: a former executive vice-president of medical affairs, an expert on health sensors, an engineer who's a specialist in health-monitoring equipment, and, most recently, a sleep expert. You don't have to be too bright to infer that this suggests they're working on a product related to health monitoring. Plus, they hired a former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent. Why would they hire a fashion designer if not to help create a fashionable wearable device? All of this points to an iWatch or some other sort of wearable computer.
The market for Bluetooth speakers continues to grow each day. Should you give the Braven 710 ($169.99) a chance to be heard over its competition?
A lot of the interest in smartwatches has been stimulated by Pebble, which is the most popular one so far. So what's a smartwatch? They run apps and they typically communicate with your smartphone, such that alerts and other information from your phone appear on the watch's face.
Wearable computing is here, as was evident at CES 2014. One of the most evident applications of this trend is health and fitness gear. There were a lot of bracelets on display, but I already wear a watch and don't want another thing on my wrist. The ibitz is a handy and compact fitness tracker that clips to your belt or clothing and you can forget about it. And thanks to Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, it can last for months without recharging.
With rumors that Apple is gearing up to focus on mobile payment solutions, and the news on Thursday that Major League Baseball stadiums are gearing up to install some 2,000 iBeacon transmitters starting next week, it looks like Apple's iBeacon technology is coming to the fore. According to a post on MacRumors, the devices are expected to be in place in 20 stadiums by the time play begins in March. What will the technology be used for? It will vary from ballpark to ballpark, since they will each be developing their own functionality. In general, iBeacon will be used to help guide people to their seats, to highlight special offers from nearby concessions, track rewards programs, and offer information regarding points of interest.
Recently, I wrote about the XSPIN, a handy gadget that connects to your stationary bicycle (or traditional bicycle on a stationary mount) but I wanted an expert opinion. My colleague, Dennis Wurster, is both an avid cycler and a Mac and iPhone expert. Here is his expert review:
Rumors have been pointing to the launch of a major update to Apple TV software and possibly also a new version of the device itself. Apple has virtually confirmed that something is coming, as can be seen by changes they've made in the Apple Store this week.
Whether you want a tiny speaker to boost the volume of your iPhone or you want to wirelessly share your music with others, X-Mini has a speaker for you. Introduced at CES, they offer the X-Mini Me which has an audio jack for connecting to your phone via cable, or the X-Mini We which adds a wireless Bluetooth option.
Apple has improved the camera in their iPhone with each iteration, but the microphone hadn't changed much. Sure, there's noise cancelation, but the position of the microphone is problematic, and it certainly doesn't pick up stereo audio.
It was just last week that I wrote a review of the Stratus MFi Bluetooth game controller. This game controller is one of three on the market at this time, and in my opinion it's the best of them. Now I've got some great news for anyone who either just purchased one, or was about to.
There are so many phone and tablet cases out there that you have to do something special to stand out, especially at CES. Nuevue thinks they've hit on something different with their cases that clean each time you insert or remove your device. This is possible thanks to the antimicrobial microfiber lining on both sides of the case's interior. A notch at the bottom makes it easy to push the phone out when needed.
What's better than one cool item? Two cool items. And what's better than that? Two-in-one! And that's what you get with the Nomad brush mini 2 ($35). It's a traditional stylus on one end, and on the other, a paintbrush-style tip. You can even retract the paintbrush tip, adjusting the length of the brush for the desired control.
Forget that BlackBerry is suing Typo Products, the company that makes the TYPO Keyboard. Forget that Ryan Seacrest is a backer of Typo Products. Forget that their initial production run has sold out. I picked up one of the keyboard cases at CES and was able to try it out.
The new SteelSeries Stratus game controller ($99.99) is available to pre-order now and the website promises the controller will ship within 30 days. I've been working with the SteelSeries game controller a lot lately, and I have to say, besides the fact that it's the only wireless (Bluetooth) game controller on the market, it's ergonomic and it handles well. The sensitivity is finely tweaked making the controller quick and responsive, without much glitchiness or lag.
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