Gadgets

Tue
09
Oct
John Lister's picture

Facebook Launches Dedicated Screens

Facebook is launching dedicated devices for video-calling friends and family. While they have some impressive technology, it's a bold move from a company whose reputation on privacy issues is controversial to say the least. The devices are known as ... the "Portal" and "Portal+". They both offer some of the features of 'smart speakers' such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo, but the main function is for making video calls. That's reflected in the 10 inch screen of the Portal and the 15 inch screen of the Portal+. There's no charge for making calls on the devices as they work ... (view more)

Thu
12
Apr
John Lister's picture

Amazon Patent Eavesdrops, Targets User Ads

Amazon has patented a system for listening to devices in order to better target advertising to users. But it says it doesn't use the feature in its gadgets. The patent dates back to an initial application in 2011, but the most recent version was not ... approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office until last November and has only recently been made public. The basis of the patent is 'sniffer' technology, though that's used as an analogy to reflect the idea that the devices wouldn't permanently capture and store what people were saying. Instead they would use trigger words. Saying 'Like' Would ... (view more)

Thu
08
Mar
John Lister's picture

Survey: One In Five Have Smart Speakers

Nearly 47 million Americans have a 'smart speaker' device in their home according to a new survey. If true, the devices' user base has gone from almost nothing to one-in-five people in just two years. While models vary, smart speakers are small ... devices that perform two main functions: playing music (often from online streaming services) and answering spoken questions as a quicker alternative to typing something into a smartphone or computer. In some cases they are also used to control home devices such as lights and heating. The study says 19.7 percent of people have access to a smart speaker ... (view more)

Tue
24
Oct
John Lister's picture

Cheap Apple Watch - If You Exercise

A life insurance company is offering the Apple watch for just $25 to customers. The catch is that they will have to meet health goals as tracked by the watch to be eligible for the discount. The smart watch connects wirelessly to an iPhone and has ... two main uses (besides telling the time): displaying information so that users don't have to retrieve their phone, and tracking activity for fitness apps. Normally the latest model costs at least $329, so the offer from John Hancock insurance is a significant discount. It's only eligible for people who take out life insurance and sign up for ... (view more)

Thu
13
Apr
John Lister's picture

Burger King Hijacks Home Gadget for Ad

Burger King has cheekily used a Google gadget to advertise its products. But the way it did so is pretty risky and could easily backfire. The stunt came in a television advert that contained a command for Google's Home device. That's a voice ... activated speaker that lets the user ask questions, control home devices, set alarms and other useful (and sometimes purely trivial) activities. While similar technology exists on many Android phones, those are usually set to recognize and respond only to the user's voice, including listening out for the trigger phrase "Okay Google" ... (view more)

Thu
05
Jan
John Lister's picture

CES 2017 Brings Smart Hairbrush and Listening Fridge

It's the week of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and this year smart home gadgets seem to be attracting attention - rather than the latest TV technology. Everything from fridges to hairbrushes is getting some form of upgrade ... from gadget makers. One big story is the attempts by firms such as Google and Amazon to get their voice-operated "virtual assistants" connected to home devices. While gadgets such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo already control of some more common smart tech such as automated lighting and thermostats, several manufacturers showed ... (view more)

Thu
14
Apr
John Lister's picture

New Luxury Kindle Carries Price to Match

Amazon has released a luxury version of the Kindle e-Reader, with a price tag to match. It's drawn comparisons to Apple's high-priced iPads, despite being a single-purpose device. New Kindle editions over the past few years have mainly involved very ... small tweaks to an established design. The new Kindle Oasis has been redesigned to be easier to hold. The most notable difference is that the device is no longer a perfectly flat device. One side of it is the thinnest a Kindle has ever been, at barely an eighth of an inch. However, the other side has a tapered bump that takes it up to a ... (view more)

Tue
22
Mar
John Lister's picture

Kindle eReaders May Lose Connectivity if not Updated

Owners of older Kindle eReaders have been warned to update their devices today or temporarily lose Internet connectivity. The loss won't be irreversible, but will cause added hassle. The issue affects all Kindle eReader models released before 2013. ... That includes the Keyboard, Touch and DX versions, along with the 5th generation and earlier of both the standard Kindle and Paperwhite editions. (Source: amazon.com ) The only unaffected models are those released from 2013 onwards, specifically the Paperwhite 6th and 7th generation, the 7th generation standard Kindle and the Voyage model. The ... (view more)

Mon
17
Mar
Brandon Dimmel's picture

Would You Buy Neil Young's High-Res Music Player?

Legendary singer-songwriter and musician Neil Young believes his "Pono" digital music player is the next 'must-have' gadget. Young says that people who use the iPod and most other digital music players aren't hearing music the way it was intended to ... be heard. That's also why he firmly believes there will be great demand for Pono. Unlike the iPod and similar devices, Pono is built with audiophiles in mind. The major difference is that Pono is able to play music using a high-resolution "lossless" audio format, called FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). By ... (view more)

Wed
18
Dec
Dennis Faas's picture

Amazon Offers Buy Now, Pay Later Kindle Plan

Amazon is offering would-be buyers of its Kindle Fire HDX tablet the option to pay in four installments. The plan doesn't include any interest or added fees. The plan only applies to the Kindle Fire HDX , the most expensive version of the Kindle. ... Ordinarily it costs $229 for the 7-inch version or $379 for the 8.9-inch version. Under the terms of the deal, you pay 25 per cent of the purchase price up-front. That's $57.25 for the 7-inch version and $94.75 for the 8.9-inch version. You'll also pay any applicable sales taxes and shipping. At the time of writing, the deal was only available to US ... (view more)

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