Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
Over the many years (this being my 24th or 25th trip to the magic kingdom known as Las Vegas during CES) of attending the International CES, I've noticed just a few changes. One small change, for example, is the ubiquity of this newfangled thing called “the internet”. From a journalistic perspective, one of the most notable changes has involved the lowly press release. No, they're not being written any better. (At least they're not being written any worse…) What's changed is the method of distribution. In the olden days, an intrepid fact-finding writer would scour the press room's stacks and stacks of press releases looking for a rare gem or two to write about. (All the while lamenting the loss of so many trees to produce so many useless sentences.) Not only was the process time-consuming and inefficient, it resulted in plenty of extra weight that had to be lugged home in briefcases and suitcases. You can imagine the shouts of joy that arose once the majority of PR departments switched to the now-archaic CD-ROM as the method of information distribution. The real breakthrough in making press coverage less backbreaking, however, was the introduction of the flash drive. Not too long ago, getting a press kit on a 256 MB flash drive was something you talked about in the taxi line. Now, the truly jaded among us don't even attempt to hide our disdain for flash drives with less than 2 GB capacity. Or, as a friend told me, “Two gig is the new 512 MB.” Unfortunately, it won't be long before the press page on the company's website becomes the new 2 GB…
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 Published: Jan 11, 2013 1 comments
Allure Energy’s new EverSense 2.0 is a “home environment and energy management product” – or, put another way, a next-generation, super-high-tech thermostat/home automation hub that can also be used for streaming music, viewing photos, and getting weather updates – with built-in Proximity Control and NFC technology. The new system allows homeowners with an Android phone running a mobile app called EverSense to change the home environment simply by setting the phone on a SyncPad triggering the EverSense 2.0 to turn lights on/off, adjust the temperature setting of the thermostat, and set the security system based on the user’s programmed preferences. In the future, homeowners will be able to add and control other smart devices within the EverSense ecosystem. While the owner is at home, NFC technology in the user’s Android phone will let the system know how to react based upon which SyncPad the phone is placed. When the homeowner leaves the house, though, the system will use its built-in proximity control technology to manage temperature and other aspects of the home’s environment based on how near or far from home the user happens to be. In other words, the EverSense system is smart enough to realize when you are away and when you are on your way home and will adjust the thermostat accordingly to save energy while you’re away while making sure that the house is comfortable when you arrive home. EverSense 2.0 units are expected to be available for sale directly to consumers sometime during the first quarter of 2013. Final pricing on the hardware hasn’t been announced. No monthly subscription fees are required.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
Waterproof iPad and iPhone cases don’t automatically jump out as being prime home theater-related items; but as outdoor TVs from companies like SunBriteTV and Seura become more and more popular, along with weather-resistant speakers (such as the Soundcast Outcast wireless speakers), plenty of iOS and Android devices are making their way out into the elements. I originally thought the various storage bags from LOKSAK were little more than high-teched-up versions of the basic Ziploc storage bags found in kitchens everywhere. In reality, these amazing bags are not only resealable, they’re also completely waterproof, dust proof, and humidity proof. In fact, the many different sizes of LOKSAK bags are all rated to withstand being submerged in 20 feet of water for up to two weeks. Most amazing, however, is the fact that the touchscreen on your tablet or smartphone will operate exactly as if there were no bag material present at all. And, just as remarkable, you can make/take phone calls without opening the bag – including using the phone’s built-in speaker and microphone! With all that technology going for it, you’d expect to pay an iPremium price for an aLOKSAK; instead, aLOKSAKs start at under $8 – for a package of three aLOKSAKs.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
WyreStorm Amps Up HDBaseT If you’re not already familiar with HDBaseT, it’s an exciting connectivity technology that enables connectivity between HD video sources and remote displays through a single CAT5e/6 cable up to 100m/328ft long. What’s really cool and useful is the fact that it is capable of delivering uncompressed high definition video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, various control signals, and up to 100W of POWER. (Imagine running one CAT5e/6 cable to your flat panel from your AV system rack – and not needing to plug in an AC power cord from the display!) Now that Pioneer and Onkyo have joined the HDBaseT Alliance, widespread adoption of HDBaseT technology for regular-Joe AV gear looks like it’s just around the corner.

WyreStorm came to CES2013 with “the world’s first all-in-one HDBaseT and digital amplification solution” HDBaseT D Class Digital Audio Amplifier (AMP-001-010) that brings together the benefits of HDMI and HDBaseT connectivity, with local audio amplification. One of the device’s standout features is its ability to extract stereo audio from the digital audio signal within the HDBaseT signal and amplify it locally. This can eliminate the need for multiroom amps and having to mix digital and analog audio formats. The AMP includes a local source analog audio input to further expand its usefulness for a variety of applications.

While the WyreStorm AMP-001-010 isn’t designed as a consumer DIY-type piece, it’s still noteworthy for non-custom-install consumers because it shows how much flexibility is possible when implementing the HDBaseT technology. Although not yet officially set, pricing should be under $900 with availability in approximately three to four months.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 Published: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
Sometimes journalists need a little jump start before an evening filled with new product pitches and demonstrations from eager company execs and PR folks. One of the more creative ways of providing chilled beverages involved a giant block of ice with a carefully carved, very clever martini slalom. Sometimes low-tech is cool, too. (And refreshing!)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
Lantos Technologies demonstrated how simple and relatively discomfort-free it is to take an impression of the average person’s ear canal with their new 3D digital ear scanning technology. Taking an accurate and complete impression of the ear canal is incredibly important when it comes to making custom earpieces for hearing aids, noise protection, and custom audio (i.e., high-performance earbud-style headphones). The traditional process of taking an ear canal impression involves examining the ear canal, inserting an otocblock into the ear canal to protect the tympanic membrane from harm, and then filling the ear canal with an pliable impression material that takes about five to ten minutes to solidify before it can be removed. (Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?) The Lantos technology uses
emission re-absorption laser induced fluorescence (ERLIF) [and] was developed by Dr. Douglas Hart at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Using the intensity measurement of two different wavelength bands of fluorescent light as they travel through an absorbing medium, ERLIF generates a highly accurate 3D map. The medium selectively absorbs one wavelength band over the other, thus the intensity ratio of the two wavelengths as they travel through the medium can be measured using a standard camera…
During a sparsely attended press conference at CES, Lantos representatives demonstrated the process using the Lantos Scanner, which is a small, handheld device that includes a fiberscope enclosed in a conforming membrane. Once gently inserted in the ear canal, the membrane is expanded and conforms to the shape of the ear canal. As the fiberscope is retracted, it creates a 3D image of the ear canal in real time – with the entire process taking less than two minutes per ear. The resulting scan is typically much more accurate than the standard impression technique provides and has the advantage of immediately being available as a digital data file that can be sent electronically to a manufacturer.

Currently it’s somewhat expensive (>$100), time-consuming, and often uncomfortable to go to an audiologist who can make a custom ear canal impression which can be sent to an earphone manufacturer (such as Etymotic) in order to create an individually customized earbud insert. Once FDA-approved in the US, the Lantos 3D Digital Ear Scanner promises to make customized earpieces much more widely available.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
Bucking the trend of “smaller is better”, HP brought what’s probably the largest Ultrabook to CES. I know personal health is a big deal at CES this year, with companies such as Omnimount promoting easy ways of making changes to our largely sedentary lifestyles through the use of the company’s full-motion TV mounts and fitness-promoting, adjustable workstations. But maybe the JustStand.org “Wellness Uprising” has gone a little too far. Typing up a 200-word blog post with your feet will definitely give you a good workout, but getting the ultra-Ultrabook to fit under your seat on the airplane is going to be much harder. And I, for one, certainly don’t want to have to lug around the Smart Car-sized power supply…
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
I hate – no, I loathe – headphone cords. Maybe it’s because I was traumatized as a child by a menacing coiled cord on an old landline phone that was mounted on the wall in our home. I can’t tell you how many times the handset was yanked out of my hand when I reached the outer limits of the coiled cord’s length. Nor can I tell you how many times I’ve had one or both earbuds forcibly ejected from my ears after I’ve gotten the headphone cord caught on something. In fact, I’ve broken more than one pair of earbuds that way… So you can understand my appreciation of CordCruncher’s new Earbud Headphones that come with a unique, tangle-free, "crunchable" headphone cord. There are two main aspects to the CordCruncher Cord Management System. The first is the special kinked-cord design that allows the cord to resist tangling as well as compress when not in use, in some ways similar to the way a coiled cord functions. The second component of the system is an elastic sleeve that covers the all or as much of the crunched headphone cord as you wish. The sleeve covers the cord and keeps it from tangling when you’re finished listening to music and have thrown the earbuds in your briefcase, purse, or on your desk. The 3.5 mm headphone jack can be inserted into the other end of the elastic sleeve to create a necklace or, when doubled up, a wrist band. Currently the CordCruncher Earbuds are available in Glo Orange, Matte Black, and Pearl Blue color options for $24.99 each. Unfortunately, the CordCruncher cord/sleeve combo isn’t available in a universal version to use with other brands of earbuds and headphones. (The sleeve, by the way, is made from 95% protein-free, medical-grade latex rubber, so people who are allergic to latex may want to look for some other type of cord management system.)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
At first look, RCA’s Mobile TV Tablet is just another one of the many Android tablets on the market. But beneath the tablet’s eight-inch (1024 x 768) screen is what RCA claims is the “world’s first” dual-tuner mobile TV. In addition to a standard over-the-air DTV tuner, the new tablet includes a Dyle mobile TV-compatible DTV tuner that provides access to around 130 mobile TV stations in 35 markets around the country. (The built-in mobile DTV tuner also receives mobile digital TV channels from broadcasters not affiliated with Dyle. You can see if there’s a Mobile DTV station in your area here.) The multifunction tablet includes a built-in telescoping antenna, Wi-Fi connectivity, dual cameras, and GPS functionality. The tablet (Model DDA850R) has a battery life up to four hours in mobile TV mode, or up to 10 hours when web browsing. It will be available this Spring with a suggested retail price of $299.

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