Posts tagged CES

GPS Trackers for Tracking Whatever You Want

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I  came across two standouts for portable GPS based tracking.  The, Xact Trax and Insignia Little Buddy, both offer a way to track your kids, car, wife, friends, dogs?, etc with similiar features and pricing.

The basic feature set of these devices allows you to place a GPS device on something mobile (car, kids backpack, etc) and view the location of that device through a website.  Depending on your pricing plan ($15 monthly unlimited or $.99 per use) you can track the device continuously or on an ad-hoc basis (i.e. My kid is late getting home, where is he right now).

If that’s not big brother enough for you, these devices offer geo-fencing (you can be notified when the device leaves a certain pre-defined area…like school grounds) and speed notifications (you can be notified if whatever you’ve attached the device to is speeding).  Notifications may be through e-mail or text.  All my examples have been of parents tracking their kids (which is the obvious one), but there are many less intrusive uses (like GPS tagging a car or motorcycle for theft recovery).

If you are using this to track a kid (or god forbid significant other) you still have no guarantee that the device will stay with that person (not sure how many times I lost my backpack as a kid).  Also remember that these devices are subject to the same limitations as other wireless and GPS devices (i.e. if you’re not in a coverage area or otherwise can’t get a signal the device will not work).

The Insignia product is a super simple GPS device powered by USB.  The Xact device offers things like a panic button and on-device medical history database in case of emergency.

All in all, these products are probably very effective if you need some element of their feature set.  Both pricing models are excellent depending on your needs.  If you do use something like this drop us a comment.  We’re curious what you use it for.

SlingMedia Launches 4 New Products…Flash Support More Important

Full Disclosure: I freaking love Sling Media. On the time line of groundbreaking home theater technology the Slingbox falls between the TiVo and 3D TVs.

[ NOTE: Real quickly for those that don't know, the Slingbox enables 'place shifting' which is a fancy way of saying you can watch YOUR TV from anywhere you've got an internet connection and laptop (or properly enabled mobile phone).  If you are on a trip you can control your TV and cable box (TiVo, DVD player, etc) remotely just as if you had your remote in your hand.  It's fantastic. ]

At CES this year Sling Media announced 4 pieces of hardware and one software change that may be the most important of all.  All of this works into the ‘TV Everwhere’ movement that is the buzzword du jour of the cable companies and all of these products will only be available directly through cable providers (only Dish Network, so far).  It should be noted that Echostar bought Slingmedia (they also own Dish Network) and all of these products are integrated or compatible with Dish’s new products.

[Editor's Note: Everyone I spoke to said that these devices will be available through providers other than Dish Network.  When I jokingly said, 'Ya, when EchoStar allows it.' They all rolled their eyes, dropped their heads and said, 'Ya, there are some challenges. It'll happen eventually.'  Not sure how bad a sign that is, but I have to assume it's EchoStars strategy and other providers are not eager to boost EchoStars bottom line (that is 80% speculation).]

Slingbox 700U

Slingbox-700uThe 700U is designed to be sold by the cable and satellite companies as a USB connected add-on to DVRs and cable boxes.  It should reduce the cost to the customer, but it will require providers to make their boxes compatible.

This is a good idea and a logical way to expand the market of users, but it’s definitely not groundbreaking.

Sling Receiver 300

Sling-Receiver-300The Receiver 300 is basically an extender box.  It has to be used on a network with an existing ‘SlingLoaded’ device and in standard Sling fashion, it allows you to watch / manipulate your primary TV source on a second TV.  It’s small and meant to be mounted on the back of a TV or on a wall.  The idea here is that the customer could use this device to get a HD signal to a TV without having to run additional wires (perfect for a 1 bedroom apartment with 2 TVs).  The device connects through HDMI and presumably slings the signal through WiFi.

Sling Touch Control 100

Sling-Touch-ControlThis is basically a really fancy IP-based universal remote.  Just like any remote, it will control all the devices in your entertainment center.  It’s trick is that IP-based part.  It’s a WiFi enabled device that use your home network to control compatible devices over your home network (it uses IR for ‘legacy’ products) while delivering a streamlined user experience to the 4.3″ screen.

The whole SlingGuide product is just an enhanced channel guide.  It provides additional ways to search your channels while also providing more access to additional information on a particular show.  SlingGuide is really Slings way of standardizing the channel guide experience across their products.

All in all, this is a pretty slick universal remote but depending on the price might not be worth it (no idea what the price will be).



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Sling Monitor 150

Sling-Monitor-150Continuing the TV Everwhere trend this is a 15.6″, 720p display that includes speakers and 802.11n wireless.  This is basically the Sling Receiver 300 with a screen.  It’s meant to be setup (wall or countertop) anywhere running a TV source wire would not be practical.  Again a very cool product that isn’t groundbreaking and whose adoption will likely be defined by it’s price.  For the record, it doesn’t have a battery and requires WiFi so it’s not portable (now if someone could add a battery pack and wireless 3G card…THAT would be a product).

Support for Adobe Flash

adobe-flash-player-iconLastly, but possibly most importantly, is Sling’s support of Adobe Flash Player and Flash streaming protocols in the Pro-HD and SOLO.  This means that any device that supports a Flash Player will be able to receive the Sling content.  Since Flash is already so heavily used for streaming, support across devices is very very high and Adobe recently announced Flash for Mobile there will be a rapid influx of ways that you can receive your Sling’d media (Fingers crossed that means a WebOS Sling player in the next few months).

In Conclusion

Sling has a fantastic technology.  EchoStar has integrated that technology into Dish Network’s products pretty well.  In an effort to expand their user base EchoStar is pushing the idea of ‘TV Everywhere’ and all of these products go a long way towards enabling that technology.  Hopefully TiVo will support this technology and I can continue my love affair with TiVo and Sling the way it should be (i.e. without IR blasters).   Most of all, the support of Flash will break down the most frustrating wall of Sling’s products … the mobile players.

Tech to Live By is Headed to CES!

Leaving for CES late tonight and hope to be there for Mulally’s Keynote…

Can’t stay for the whole show, but I can’t wait to see all the great electronics, argue the future of technology and get some free stuff!

If you’ll be there drop me a comment or e-mail techtoliveby@techtoliveby.com

IMAX 3D is the COOLEST! An Absolute Must See.

IMAX LogoIMAX 3D is without a doubt the coolest thing I’ve seen in recent years.  Even more amazing then the Pioneer Kuro Extreme demo at CES ’07 (which was freakin’ unbelievable).

My first experience with 3D was the magazines with blue and red glasses as a kid.  It did not work well.  My next experience was with Captain EO at Disneyland (which is coming back in February 2010…hell ya!).  It was significantly better.  Captain EO is only about 17 minutes so eye fatigue was not really an issue and the effects definitely worked (things fly out at you, depth in the screen, etc), but the whole thing seemed cheesy.  That level of 3D pretty much kept up through Honey I Shrunk the Audience (another Disney attraction).

At CES ’07 I saw the next generation of 3D using alternating lenses connected to a 120hz TV. This was very impressive. It was the first time I had really considered 3D in the home and since then 3D has gained steam but hadn’t really hit the mainstream.

The technology is game changing without being gimmicky.  In fact, the experience was almost overwhelming.  I saw Avatar (I’ll gloss over how useless the actual plot was) and my mind was blown before I was through the IMAX 3D previews (bastards make you watch a full set of regular trailers then a full set of IMAX 3D ones?! I hate trailers, but I digress).

Overall, it didn’t feel like I was immersed in the movie so much as it was just a richer, deeper viewing experience…like I was watching a play and not a flat screen.  It was far more engaging than traditional projection and kept my attention through an otherwise predictable and long movie.

At first there was definitely the opportunity for a bit of motion sickness (I’m sure some movie will take it to the extreme.  Jackass 3D I’m looking at you.), but it settled down.  Avatar is over 2.5 hours and my eyes did get a bit tired, but I’m pretty sure that was over 2 hours into the movie and the feeling went away after a minute of taking the glasses off.

I’m not a big movie goer (in fact, i generally despise the movie going experience), but I will see every IMAX 3D that comes out in 2010 (and I’m upset I missed previous ones).  You should absolutely do the same.

How do you like IMAX 3D?

Video Camera in My Goggles? It’s about time.

Liquid Image Camera GogglesIn a ‘what took you so long’ moment Liquid Image will be unveiling it’s 335 Snow Camera Goggle at CES this week.

This thing doesn’t mess around either… 5MP camera, video recording w/ audio, integrated controls, over 2 hours of video recording battery life  and expandable memory!  What more could you ask for!!

It’ll go on-sale for about $150 sometime this summer (with plenty of time to spare before the next season and perfect timing for my birthday).