Scosche boomBottle: Rugged Outdoor Speakers

boomBottle

Fresh water’s all well and good but what if you’re cycling, hiking or camping and want a fresh beat. Well you’re probably in the 1987, which was the last time when anyone used the term “fresh beat” unironically (and incidentally when the Simpsons was first aired). But on the off-chance you’re not a time traveller with a bad haircut and an “Eat My Shorts” tshirt you might just be interested in the Scosche Industries boomBottle, an omni-directional portable bluetooth speaker.

If you’re a tech jouralist you might be thinking that the last thing the world needs is year another portable bluetooth speaker. And you’d be right. They’re jostling for number one place for most boring thing to land in my inbox, next to iPhone cases and fashion headphones. Fortunately Scosche are award-winning innovators and know how to bring something new to the party. We got a chance to play with one at a recent London press show and liked both what we heard and saw.

boomBottle-Pool

The boomBottle fits in most water bottle cages and is great if you’re sharing your tunes with the rest of the neighbourhood. Well great for you. I’m sure your neighbours might very well object. Dual 40mm drivers produce rich, deep audio with amplified acoustics that overcome loud environments (like London press shows). The integrated passive subwoofer features a ported enclosure for enhanced bass performance.

Of course it’s a dangerous world out there and the last thing you want is for your baby to be damanged by the elements. The boomBottle has IP4X-rated splash proof casing to protect from unexpected weather, sweat and other moisture. There are large rubberised buttons that you can operate, even when wearing gloves. The shock-proof TPU exterior can withstand drops and vibrations (I gave it a tiny bit of a fling and it seemed fine). All the charging and audio ports are safely hidden behind a secure flap so you don’t have to worry about mud creeping into an AUX port.

boomBottle

The boomBOTTLE’s built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 10 hours of continuous playback on a single charge. The bluetooth has wireless range of 33 feet so unless it should work even on the largest Penny Farthings.

Like almost every modern Bluetooth speaker, there’s a built-in microphone, for use as a speakerphone, capable of delivering echo-free phone conversations and interacting with Siri or the Android equivalent. There’s also 3.5mm auxiliary input if you hold no truck with this new-fangled Bluetooth business.

The boomBOTTLE will be available from April priced at £120. For further information visit Scosche.

Crosskase Solar 15: Take the power back (pack)

We sometimes have a little snigger to ourselves when we read about solar gadgets – usually because we look outside the window and see that it’s raining again – but as the sun is shining as I write this, let me introduce you to the Crosskase Solar 15 Backpack.

Crosskase-Solar-

If you’re planning on doing a bit of travelling this summer – or indeed take your gadgets with you when commuting – the backpack might be worth a look.

Imagine if you’re lost 10,000 feet high on a snow-capped mountain and need help but your phone has no battery and your GPS has died. Plug either of them into the Solar 15 and you’ll have the power to make that emergency call or find directions and be safe and sound in no time.

Or for the slightly less-adventurous, how about you’ve mislaid your mates at a festival and the battery’s died on your phone. Plug it into the backpack and you can call them while still enjoying your favourite band.

Looks-wise, the Solar 15 looks like your average laptop-carrying backpack, but on the front of the bag is a 3-Watt solar panel that soaks up natural light and then stores the energy it has grabbed on an internal battery. That battery is capable of charging most handheld devices, such as music players, phones and pocket games consoles.

It takes eight hours to fully charge the battery from solar power, three hours from mains power and four hours from a USB connection. The battery holds enough power to charge most devices twice over.

The makers claim it takes two hours to fully charge devices such as the iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy, iPod nano 6G, BlackBerry Curve and Nokia N95.

In case you’re thinking that a solar backpack is no use in rainy old Blighty, the makers tell us it doesn’t need strong sunlight to work because it also trickle charges in standard daylight or artificial light and, they have thoughtfully added splashproof material and paneling, so it even works in the rain!

Nine adapter fittings include micro USB, mini uSB, Apple, Samsung, Nokia and TomTom – other devices can be connected using the USB 2.0 lead.

The backpack itself is made from 1680D Ballistic Nylon, has a 25-litre capacity, and pockets for holding laptops and iPad/iPod. A rain cover can be pulled out for extra protection.

The backpack costs £139.99 from www.crosskase.com, amazon.co.uk and store.apple.com/uk

The Mio Cyclo 305 puts bikers on the map.

We’ve all heard them; the constant whining of cyclists chastising drivers (mainly lorry drivers to be fair) for not giving them enough room on the road. And in many cases they have a point. Having said that, I’m sure we’ve all been cut up by a cyclist at some point too. All in all though they are the poorer citizens as far as road management is concerned. Perhaps now though, they might feel a little more loved as they now have their very own custom sat nav systems to play with courtesy of personal navigation specialist Mio.

Mio-Cyclo

The Cyclo 300 and 305 come with pre installed maps from top digital mapper TeleAtlas and are more or less ready to go straight out of the box. Fitting snugly on the bike frame, the Cyclo’s big on screen buttons are super friendly for cyclists (can you feel the love growing) and make navigation a breeze. There’s even a ‘surprise me’ option when planning a route to take you on a magical mystery tour to your chosen destination. The unit itself is able to handle many kinds of weather situations given that it’s impact resistant and waterproof whilst the 3” anti glare screen provides clear enough instructions for recreational cyclists or even the more demanding needs of a trained mountain biker.

To make bikers feel even more loved they can share key route information such as time, speed, distance, height and calorie consumption with other users using Mio’s desktop software. If you go for the 305 version though, you get an additional wireless wheel sensor to monitor and record your heart rate and fitness levels that you can also share with other pedal bashers if you want to.

So is this the dawn of moan free cycling?  After all, with cycle friendly routes at your very finger tips, pedal power’s never had it so good!

Mio Cyclo 300 with Western-Europe Maps    £299.00

Mio Cyclo 305 with Western-Europe Maps    £349.99

Due out early 2012. www.mio.com/cyclo

Go Pro HD Hero2: An action-packed sequel

How do you sequel one of the toughest, ruggedest cameras on the market? With the HD Hero2 Camera, GoPro decided to just double everything – power, resolution and field-of-width (well, it’s a bit wider, but not double).

GoPro-HD-Hero-2

The new Hero 2 uses a better camera sensor and a twice-as-powerful processor to capture Full HD video and photos at an impressive 11 megapixels.

GoPro also went back to the drawing board with the lens, making it a much more attractive wide-angle offering. It manages 170º at full-width, 127º at medium and 90º in its narrowest field-of-view in video recording. Photos operate at either the wide or medium offerings.

The new lens also uses a much better glass, which – continuing the pattern – is twice as sharp as before.

Video-wise, it’ll pull in an impressive 120fps in WVGA resolution (great for slow-motion), 60fps in a respectable 720p and 30fps in 1080p. The camera can fire 10 11MP photos a second in burst mode, or take a single 11MP photo every half a second in the time-lapse mode.

The Hero2 is all-set for professional videoing, with a 3.5mm external stereo microphone input and full compatibility with the Wi-Fi BacPac and Wi-Fi Remote, so you can control up to 50 GoPro cameras at once, or stream live videos and photos to the web.

GoPro are offering three editions – the Outdoor Edition, Motorsports Edition and the Surf Edition – each for £299.99. The different packs all feature the same camera, but you’ll find different accessories in each with mounts for each activity (unfortunately, you don’t find a racing strip on the motorsports edition).

You’ll get about two and a half hours of videoing from a single charge, which is insulated with a battery warmer to enable longer life in cold temperatures. You can also stick in an SD card for up to 32GB storage.

Frankfurt Motorshow: Ford shows off the technology coming to its 2012 ranges

The Frankfurt Motorshow finally closed yesterday after a gargantuan two and a half-week run at the Frankfurt Messe. We were given the opportunity to go the Frankfurt Motorshow – not only were we invited, we were expected to drive one of Ford’s new Focus Estate’s from Paris to Frankfurt.

Ford1
On our journey we took in the sights of Paris, Reims, Saarlouis and Frankfurt. This gave us plenty of time to absorb, fiddle and play with some of the amazing technology that can be found in the new Ford Focus.

We’ve already road-tested the new Focus a few months ago – but this time were given the keys to the new wagon version – or as we call it in the UK – the Estate.

Ford2

Over the course of the 3-day drive we tested every conceivable piece of technology that this car has on offer; from the Parking assist, Lane Departure, My Key, Door Edge Protector and Active City Stop.

During our long journey we thought we give the Ford Focus Estate a proper real-world road test of all of its tech. Our first port of call was the lane departure system. Now when using this system on a motorway we were pleasantly surprised how the system gradually steered us back in our lane with little or no fuss. In many cases you barely even know it’s there when it’s set to intervention mode.

But how would it fair on a b-road in the French countryside and on proper a corner? Well surprisingly well, if you aimlessly drift across the white line whilst on a corner the system it applies a respectable amount of turn to bring you back to where you should be. The system is very clever and over the course of a journey if you keep straying out of lane the dashboard shows a coffee icon to suggest it might be time for you to take a break.

The Parking assist function is probably the coolest piece of tech that you’ll find in any car under the £20,000. Basically, all have to do is press the button, drive past a parking space (slowly) and the computer ping’s with a message saying that a parking space has been found.

Now comes the leap of faith; you take your hands of the steering wheel and you control the accelerator, brakes and clutch – then with a wing and a prayer the car parks itself. To give you an idea of how good this system is, Ford set a rather clever challenge where we were tasked to try and beat the car when it comes to the difficult challenge of parallel parking. I think I’m a pretty good driver and an even better parker.

So, I was confident that I could beat any computer, even one as good as the Focus’. The winner would be the blogger who could get the car park within a space and, most importantly, closest the curb. Rather embarrassingly I failed and failed miserably. The car won and won by a margin of 20 inches.

Another piece of tech Ford was excited to announce was their new My Key tech. Although the system has been available in the US for a while now MyKey is finally making its way to Europe.

The My Key is a intelligent key that can be pre-programmed for teenage drivers. So when you give the car to one of your children they will be subject to much stricter set of conditions than the main driver normally would face.

For instance if the passengers seatbelts are not fastened the volume to that all important cool car stereo will be muted. It’s a clever carrot and stick approach to promote safe driving. Elsewhere the main driver can limit the top speed of a car; so the less experience driver won’t be able to go above the corresponding national speed limits.

With excessive speed being the cause of 30% of accidents involving young male drivers and 21% of all female drivers in Europe. The technology, which will be rolled out across Ford’s entire European range after the Fiesta, lets parents pre-program a master key that sets various limits on the vehicle. Top speed settings can be limited, with warnings beeping at 70, 90 or 100kph. Failure to fasten seatbelts can also activate a chime and mute the audio system.

In an Opinion Matters survey conducted last month, 53% of those who would consider purchasing MyKey also said they would allow their children to use the family vehicle more often if it were equipped with the new technology.

Ford is hoping that this piece of technology will, one day, become a system that will actually reduce your insurance premium when insuring teenagers on the family car.

The final piece of tech that Ford had on offer was their Door Edge Protector – and it might well be the simplest, but it’s probably our favourite. There’s nothing worse than scratching your car when you’ve parked in a tight spot – or worse – scratching another person’s car when the kids get in and out of the car.

If you have regularly scratch your door in the your garage at a work or at the supermarket then you will love the Door Edge Protector. Most impressive is the system is completely hidden when the door is closed – meaning you won’t be compromising the looks of your car.

The Door Edge Protector really does solve the problem a protective flap concealed in the door that pops out when the door opens providing a buffer that prevents damage to your car or anyone else’s. The Door Edge protector debuts in the 2012 Ford Focus.

GoKart launches ‘psychic’ electric golf trolley

The electric golf trolley used to be a sign of advancing years. It was the signal to everyone else that your days of lugging a golf bag over your shoulder or pushing a trolley uphill are now over thank you very much. It is that time when you are on, what many people term, as the ‘back nine of life.’

Go-Kart-Trolley

Fortunately, technology has helped to remove the stigma of advancing age because practically anything that will let you post a better score will be devoured by everyone regardless of their age.

So electric trolleys are now cool and trendy. The only problem is they’re often bulky and have a mind of their own, frequently going off in all directions because you forgot to turn them off when you stopped. GoKart have put paid to all that nonsense with a new device that by simply gripping the handle it will trundle along beside you matching your walking speed until you grip it again when you want to stop.

The GoKart’s fold away lightweight design means it’s also one of the easiest trolleys to manage on the market and the designers Chris and Joe Catford should know; after all they were the original inventors of PowaKaddy the most popular electric trolley in golf. As Chris says of GoKart ““There are no complicated latches, connections or fittings and people really seem to like that so we thought the best way to improve on our success was to make it even easier. Now people don’t have to worry about adjusting the speed to exactly match theirs, it happens automatically”.

The standard battery comes with an 18 hole lifespan although there are 36 hole and lithium batteries for an even longer life span available as options too.

So, with a psychic ultra light trolley at your side, you’ll have no excuses for pleading exhaustion as the reason for yet another dismal round. The GoKart Automatic  is available for  £284

www.gokart.co.uk.

ViewRanger: An essential publishing tool for guide authors

Back in the dark ages, getting lost in a foreign land was all part of the fun of travel. I still remember walking around an Arab souk in Morocco for hours and hours getting nowhere fast.

ViewRanger

These days technology has taken all the fun out of it. Still, I suppose it gives you that much more time to see the sights you want to see, rather than the ones you don’t. Apps have become essential travellers’ companions, whether it’s for currency exchange, language interpretation or up to date global guides.

The simple guidebook is so last year and now, if you’re an guide author, so is a dependency on finding a publisher to print one.

The new ViewRanger platform will give any experienced guide author or for that matter, anyone with good local knowledge to impart, the opportunity to build their own app and publish the content on smart phones, as well as showcasing and promoting content on social networks.

The platform allows your content either in written, audio and video formats to be triggered by GPS location and be available to online location searches.

Your content can be delivered free or you can choose a price point to sell it via Augmentra, ViewFinder’s publisher and there’s also a range of widgets available to integrate the content into your website or Facebook page

Craig Wareham Augmenta CEO comments: “we are now creating an easy but powerful publishing channel to make it simple for authors and publishers to deliver dynamic and exciting guides.

viewranger.com

Pioneer’s Appradio makes your dash even more dashing.

It was inevitable. It had to come eventually and now it has. In car audio has officially gone mobile. Pioneer, never one to shirk its responsibilities, has been the first out of the blocks to fully integrate a smart phone into an in car audio system.

App-Radio

The Appradio is a WVGA 6.1” touch screen radio that fits flush into your car’s dashboard to provide all your in car entertainment as usual. The fun part is it more or less mimics your iphone 4 screen display and control system, letting you operate the capacitive screen as you would your own iphone 4. So, simply launching the Appradio app from your iphone, will let you call all your usual mobile features like iPod operation with all the music info, AM/FM radio, and Bluetooth hands-free talking and phonebook transfer directly from your dashboard.

The standard Google maps GPS navigation app is available which saves you shelling out for a sat nav device particularly when you discover there is an external GPS receiver bundled with the Appradio to make the iphone navigation system more responsive and you can use the Appradio 800X480 display to watch video, look at photos and surf the net. In case your now thinking you can catch up with all your You Tube videos whilst you’re on the road, forget it, you can only watch video once your car has stopped moving!
There’s also a rear camera connector available to provide you with a rear view for parking and a steering wheel remote adapter too.

Currently, there are only four third party apps that are supported through the AppRadio due to the limitations of the iOS; Pandora Internet Radio, Rdio, MotionX GPS Drive navigation, and Inrix Traffic but the potential is there for developers to utilise this ingenious platform.

The AppRadio is due to launch this autumn and will retail at around £300.