Bose’s SoundTouch Wifi music system: what the critics said

bose-soundtouch

Trying to dethrone Sonos from the number one spot for wireless audio systems was always going to be tall order for Bose, but with the company’s SoundTouch Wi-Fi range they’ve focused on what they do best: sound quality.

The most impressive part of Bose’s SoundTouch range is the quality of the sound. Having built a name for themselves as the purveyors of high quality sound it’s good to see Bose using its expertise to bring high fidelity sound to the burgeoning mini wireless audio market.

Separated into three distinct ranges, the SoundTouch 30 is the largest of the speakers measuring 25.4cm x 43.2cm x 17.8cm, the SoundTouch 20 is slightly smaller measuring 17.8cm x 30.5cm x 10.2cm, and the final version is a portable battery-powered version that’s no bigger than an average sized paperback book.

One of the big advantages of the SoundTouch range is it has been designed to be modular. This basically means you can daisy chain multiple speakers together over time to assemble your own multi-room home audio system. So you may start off with two, say, in the lounge and kitchen, and then later on you can add more to an upstairs bedroom for instance, all without having to traipse wires across your house.

During Huffington Post’s early hands-on with SoundTouch they were blown away by the sound quality, noting: “the sound it generates is hugely impressive. Bass notes aren’t just loud, they feel alive – physically below the rest of the sound – and genuinely fill the room.”

Where the SoundTouch is less impressive, though, is the range of content services on offer at launch: there’s no Spotify or Rdio support, TuneIn radio is missing too, as is Last.FM – all of which just so happen to be available on Sonos’ range of systems. But don’t worry too much as Bose have told us they’re planning to add services to the speakers over time, as well as plans to bring SoundTouch Wi-Fi functionality to its more expensive lifestyle range of products.

It’s not all bad news, though, you do get access to 18,000 Internet radio stations and you can of course play your entire iTunes library via Airplay by using the accompanying app – which softens the blow a bit but for those of you who have Spotify subscriptions this isn’t the speaker for you just yet.

Setting up the system is a breeze, with Mashable noting the process was “painless”, simply requiring you plug in the speaker, download the app and connect the system to your local Wi-Fi network.

To control the system wirelessly, Bose has created slick app that allows you control the system from anywhere within your home as long as you’re on the same Wi-Fi network and are in range, of course.

The entry-level speakers are fairly affordable compared Bose’s usual eye-watering standards; the SoundTouch 20 and Portable are available for £349. But the SoundTouch 30 comes in at £599, which is quite frankly scary money, especially considering what you could get for that sort of money if you plumped for a archaic separates system.

The new SoundTouch range offers a simple, easy-to-use wireless music system, with Bose’s high-end sound quality at a reasonable price. The price of the top-of-the-range of version might just be too steep for some but for a first attempt the SoundTouch is a near perfect alternative to a Sonos system only being let down by some missing services.

Top 5 Tech Kickstarters

Jambadoo

Kickstarter is making dreams come to life through the power of crowd funding. One of the hottest categories on the site is Technology. Professional and amateur inventors alike are trying their hand at making our lives better, easier or just plain fun. Here are the top five Technology Kickstarters you can contribute to. Don’t delay, though, once funding closes you’ll miss out on perks.

LibraryBox 2.0

This little device offers users a way to share files anonymously in any location, even those areas that do not have reliable internet service. Libraries, teachers and museum around the world use LibraryBox to serve files to wifi-enabled devices. When the next fundraising goal is reached, they’ll enable the ability to transfer files to the LibraryBox via FTP rather than requiring connection via USB.

SunStash Portable Solar Power Charger for Gadgets & Laptops

Want to be able to charge your laptop, smartphone or tablet anywhere, even when you don’t have electricity? This device can store a significant amount of energy that you can use to power your mobile devices. Their customized case properly aims the solar panel regardless of the time of day, giving it 50 percent or more charging efficiency than a panel with no case. It’s portable and powerful.

GlassKap

If you’re one of the lucky few that have Google Glass, this is a must-have accessory. It is a lens cover for the Google Glass to protect the lens and to let the people around you know that you’re not taking pictures or recording them. Because privacy is one of the primary concerns regarding Google Glass, GlassKaps come in a variety of bold colours in order to be highly visible to those around you.

Jambadoo

If you’re like most tech geeks, you have multiple devices but can only connect to one of them via Bluetooth at a time. Until now. Jambadoo allows you and two friends to connect to the same Bluetooth receiver to play music from all three devices. No need to pause any of them; as soon as one hits play, the others pause.

Handibot

If you’re familiar with CNC technology, you’ll know that it involves computers sending designs to machines to be cut into various materials. Handibot works similar to that, except instead of a computer, you use apps on your smart phone, and instead of massive pieces of equipment, you use power tools. They cut into aluminium, wood, plastics and other materials with greater position than cutting by hand.

Top WiFi Routers for Your Home

DIR-Router

Today’s households have more internet-connected devices than ever before – so as you can imagine having a robust home Wi-Fi network to connect your burgeoning family of devices has never been more important.

Choosing the right router for your home can be a bit of a minefield. It isn’t as simple as choosing the most expensive. For example: there’s no point going for a dual-band router if all your devices have old wireless receivers and therefore can’t take advantage of the extra power on offer via the new 802.11ac wireless standard.

Here are our some of our top pick for the some of the best Wireless routers available today.

D-Link DIR-810L – Price, £116.

D-Link has been synonymous with home networking for years, and has just released a new range of wireless routers promising increased performance and no more pesky dropouts. With their DIR-810L, you’ll enjoy the benefits of faster speeds and increased home coverage from the get-go. The DIR-810L has been specifically designed for homes where there’s a lot of HD streaming and large file transfers taking place. It’s an ideal solution for, say, a student house where there could conceivably be as many as 20 internet-connected devices running at anyone time.

The DIR-810L is so much faster than your average router because its part of the new 802.11ac family, which has now replaced 802.11n standard. We won’t bore you with the details but AC can achieve far higher speeds than a current N router, due to fact it operates on both 2.4GHz and the new 5GHz frequencies.

The great thing about this router is it is backwards compatible with all of your existing 802.11n wireless devices. And to make the transition to superfast speeds even easier you can add USB adapters to your existing desktop and laptop computers to bring them up the new AC standard.

myDLink-router

DIR-868L Wireless AC1750 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router- Price, £140

D-Link has also announced variant of the new 8 series for users who want more than just superfast wireless connectivity. The DIR-868L USB 3.0 is also a dual-band 802.11ac router but comes with a bevy extra ports including four Gigabit Ethernet ports to provide high-speed wired connections for up to four PCs or game consoles.

The router’s SharePort Mobile app allows you to also connect a USB 3.0 storage device so you can instantly share documents, movies, pictures, and music with mobile devices and other computers connected to the network. And there’s also cloud support via D-Link’s mydlink Lite app, which helps you access, manage and view your network remotely from anywhere in the world securely.

The router operates on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands at the same time and has six internal antennas for even greater wireless coverage.

TP-Link-Router

TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL2+ Modem – Price, £85

TP-LINK’s new TD-W8980 is an incredibly robust all-in-one dual-band device combining both 5GHz band and the traditional 2.4GHz band. With 2 multifunctional USB ports, users can share printers, files and media across the local network.

Handily the TD-W8980 does the work of several networking devices packed into one device. It acts as ADSL2+ Modem, NAT Router, 4-Port Switch and Wireless N Access Point, eliminating the need to purchase multiple devices to access and share a high-speed Internet.

With 300Mbps 802.11n wireless and 4-gigabit LAN ports, the TD-W8980 is the ideal choice for bandwidth heavy users that rely on speedy, reliable connections for bandwidth intensive work or entertainment such as video calls, HD video streaming and online gaming.

Using the TD-W8980’s two multi-functional USB 2.0 ports, users can share printers, files and media either throughout the network at home with several different computers or even away, using the device’s FTP server functions so that you never have to part with your files.

Belkin-Router

Belkin Powerline AV+ Starter Kit – Price, £109.99

If you live in a big house then you might have to face the fact the no matter what wireless router you use, it may not serve your entire house. So what other options do you have? Well, you can, of course, run Ethernet cables to every room, and on new build homes this is become more and more commonplace.

But there is another way: homeplugs. They’re the easiest way to create an integrated network using your existing power lines within your house.
To setup a pair of Belkin’s Powerline homeplugs it’s incredibly simple. First, you connect one adapter to your existing router and then plug it into an available plug socket. Then you plug the second adapter into an available wall socket where you want the Internet; and then you connect the other end to a device with an available Ethernet. And that’s about it.

Almost every device – except mobiles of course – has an Ethernet port and quite often a wired connection is a lot more robust than a wireless connection. Homeplugs are ideal for devices that don’t move around a lot, so if you need to connect your Sky box to your router a homeplug would be a the ideal solution. The only downside is you’re placement is obviously dictated by where you have an available wall socket. But in theory you could run an extension cable into the garden and still get full-speed wired Internet. The great thing about homeplugs is they work alongside a normal router, so they’re there to supplement the system rather than replace it. So if you have a room that’s a nightmare for wireless signal, a pair of well-positioned homeplugs could be the answer to all your wireless woes.

Belkin offers an affordable range with their Powerline AV+ starter kit. You get two plugs and you can easily add more pairs to more rooms as you see fit. What’s great about this particular set is each homeplug comes with 3 extra ethernet ports allowing you to plug in multiple devices into each home plug. So it would be an ideal solution for a lounge where you might have several devices that need to be connected to the Internet but don’t get moved around all that often.

Canon’s Latest Camcorders: Standing Out to be Outstanding

Canon-XA252

With even the cheapest compact cameras, digital SLRs and more recently wearable devices like the GoPro possessing high quality video recording potential, you may think the market for camcorders has somewhat deteriorated.

There is no longer much need to buy a specific video recording device, as even our smartphones and tablets have the ability to not only capture footage, but also edit the results. What used to be a job for the professional is now easily performed by almost anyone with the inclination.

Therefore, if you’re a camera manufacturer, it seems essential to either develop a device that possesses a multitude of capabilities, or produce a camcorder with unrivalled features and quality. One camcorder specialist in particular appears to be targeting both.

Expanding its range of handheld video cameras, Canon has unveiled three camcorders aimed specifically at a professional market. You can replace the word professional with rich if making movies is just a hobby or interest. From the high-end XA25 priced at £2099, to the £1699 XA20 and finally the most affordable LEGRIA HF G30 that costs £1299.

Canon-Legria-HF-G30

All three camcorders have been developed using a brand new picture taking system, which concerns the lens as well as the image sensor and processor. The 20x zoom wide-angle lens featured on all models offers a 26.8-576mm focal range and has borrowed technology from Canon’s premium XF305 camcorder.

As you can imagine, these cameras look to cover all the basics and overcome the common stumbling blocks such as low-light performance and noise reduction.
In addition, an improved Optical Image Stabiliser (IS) system enhances picture quality on the move while an 8-blade circular aperture ensures any background blur is ‘beautiful’ according to Canon. I didn’t even realise this was possible, but even high-quality blur is important apparently.

In some respects, the additional technology and newly developed systems are arbitrary; as for the price you would expect exceptionally high quality images. The respective camera’s ease of use and additional intuitive features are therefore what matters when it comes to differentiating itself from competitors like Panasonic.

Canon-XA20

The XA25 and XA20 feature a removable handle, which can be added or taken away to suit the shooting situation. A new OLED touchscreen gives greater resolution and colour, allowing the user to control exposure as well as aperture, shutter speed, iris, gain and exposure with a customisable control dial.

One interesting additional feature is that each camera features integrated dual band Wi-Fi support (2.4GHz and 5GHz). This handy addition means the user can look at recorded footage on a smartphone or tablet browser without the need for playback software. You can also transfer footage to FTP servers at up to 150Mbps via a wireless access point and play back videos on a supported TV or computer. Even though you’re likely to use the camera for high-quality video, the possibility of uploading to YouTube or Facebook at bitrates of up to 24Mbps exists.

Therefore these cameras appeal exclusively to filmmaking professionals or highly dedicated and passionate amateur video producers. There is no doubting Canon’s ability to develop a camcorder that produces the best possible images, but its additional features and functionality is where it hopes to gain the upper hand.

dLAN AV 500 Wireless+: Why take two bottles into the shower?

I fixed my sink the other day. It was clogged and after seeking advice from a “proper grown up” (a plumber) who wanted almost £200 for the privilege I decided to roll up my sleeves, google “how to fix a sink” and carry out the repair myself. And I did. It was a magical, empowering experience and felt ready to tackle anything. Well almost everything. I don’t think all the sinks in the world could prepare me to fix my home networking situation.

devolo

I hate networking. I’m quite good with technology (I recently swapped out an iPhone battery for a friend, now that I think about it would have made a better lead in paragraph that one about sinks), but dealing with the vagaries of home networking gives me a headache. The cables, the printers, the users and their levels of access. Fortunately there’s a new kid in town. And by kid I mean dLAN AV 500 Wireless+, the first all-in-one Powerline adapter with integrated WiFi, Powerline and LAN.

By jamming all their technologies into one box you can extend you home broadband using your electrical circuit, boost wifi hotspots and plugin devices via the Ethernet ports. Plus with the ‘piggyback’ electrical socket you don’t even have to miss out on a plug socket.

There’s also an app so you can monitor what’s going on with your home network and set parental controls if you don’t like what you see.

“Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have become part of our everyday life. Using dLAN Powerline, you create a central network infrastructure that can integrate wireless products wherever you need them. This makes dLAN one of a kind, because we can ensure the highest transmission quality in every room of the home – whether cabled or wireless.”

Heiko Harbers, CEO of devolo

The devolo dLAN 500 AV Wireless+ is available online now. An individual adapter costs £89.99, while the starter kit costs £129.99.

Withings Internet-Connected Scales: WiFi weight loss

Innovative company Withings have announced the release of the Wireless Scale WS-30, the first in their new line of internet-connected bathroom scales. Combining Bluetooth and wifi connectivity to offer a seamless, PC-free experience from the very first use, the latest Withings technology provides users with an ultra-intuitive experience. The scales provide day-to-day feedback, while the accompanying Withings Health Companion app allows you to take control of your weight anywhere, anytime.

Withings-WS-20

Trailblazers in the world of wellbeing, Withings develop gadgets to help people stay on track with their health goals. Having released the world’s first Wifi-enabled scale in 2009, this latest product takes that concept a step further, providing more simplicity, greater accuracy and a higher degree of flexibility for users.

Easy-to-use Technology and Tools

Once set up, the scale instantly recognises individual users and gives each user access to exclusive Withings services that help with weight management. Whether you want to keep the scales in your bathroom or plan to travel with them, WS-30 is portable and doesn’t even require a computer to use. When no wifi signal is available, you can record your results by connecting to your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth.

Cédric Hutchings, Co-Founder of Withings, says: “With Wireless Scale, we have simplified even further the way people automatically assess how fit they are. Now anyone can enjoy the benefits of self-measurement in a really simple way without worrying about connectivity.”

Withings-Wireless-Scale

Additional Features

As well as being able to recognize individual users, the scale’s Position Control™ technology provides smart, visual feedback that enables users to properly position themselves for greater accuracy in measurements. Using the app, you can store data about their weight and BMI, which you can then access from anywhere using the Withings Health Companion app. Motivation is the key when it comes to weight loss, and the app is packed with features that encourage goal setting and provide coaching services, you can use the app to generate weight graphs and map your success so far.

All this and more happens automatically as soon as you step on the scale. Graphs and tables are tracked in your personal account, saved for you to view at any time. With the ability to keep track of up to eight different profiles, the scales provide accurate measurements and mapping for the whole family. Each user can choose to keep their data private, or share it with others, such as doctors, coaches or accountability partners.

The Wireless Scale WS-30 is available in Europe from www.withings.com and retails for around €119.95.

Hue light up my life – Philips lightbulb technology

I spent almost two hours talking about lightbulbs yesterday and didn’t yawn once. “Impossible” you cry, but oddly enough it’s true. Philips invited me into a tucked away Central London to meet “hue”, the latest and greatest in lightbulb technology.

Philips first started making lightbulbs 121 years ago and haven’t really stopped since then, so they know what they are talking about. When people ask what the most mind blowing gadget I’ve seen whilst working for Latest Gadgets my go to is normally “Samsung’s wifi enabled touchscreen fridge” but hue – an app controlled wifi-enabled lightbulb – is a strong contender for the top spot.

Hue

Hue utilises LED technology so it’s already more environmentally friendly and economical over the long term than conventional lightbulbs. But the real magic comes from how it leverages the power of LED technology and bends it to suit your ever changing whims.

In the box are three special hue bulbs and a bridge that plugs into your router. As the name suggests, hue enables you to change the colour of light in a room and the box playfully demonstrates this with a cute colour wheel on the side. If you flip this around the colour wheel walks you through the simple installation process. Plug in the bridge, screw in the lightbulbs (screw bulbs only although you can get screw to bayonet convertors for 99p delivered on eBay), download the app and you should be good to go.

The app is one both iOS and Android, although the Android version is missing one or two functions at launch. The app is a great example of “better living through smartphones” as it makes your lighting fully customisable from a device that is always in your pocket.

hue-app

So what can hue do? Isn’t it just an overly complicated dimmer switch? No not even close. As I said before, Philips have been in the lightbulb game for a long time and have a scary level of passion for the subject. Once you have hue up and running you can access over 16 million colours simply by sliding your finger across. You can also control each bulb individually and the system has been tested with up to 50 bulbs. So you can name the bulbs “Bedroom”, “Study” etc and have different settings in each one. If you have a room with multiple bulbs you can mix and match colours.

One very cool function is the ability to replicate the colour scheme from an image. So if you see a dusk or a dawn that you love the look of you can snap a photo with your smart phone and then drag your bulbs to various points on the image to try and replicate the colour mix. If you like the scene you’ve created you can save it. You can also set a timer so it comes on at a specific time. You can even use a daylight setting to create a light based alarm clock, with your bedroom gradually filling with light.

More practically it comes with a number of pre-loaded scenes that they’ve researched for certain scenarios. Want to read? They have the perfect light setting. Want to focus on a task. You’re covered. Fancy chilling out? That’s in there too. And you can tweak all these settings and create your own templates.

Hue-iPad

Hue is based on open standards and is more of a platform than a gadget and Philips are hoping developers use the technology in wild and wonderful ways. The Zigbee wireless mesh network technology working behind the scenes is industry standard and will play nicely with all your existing home automation kit. All the bulbs act as signal extenders so they should work throughout your house.

Philips have partnered with Apple for launch and hue with be available in Apple stores from today. The starter back is £179, with each additional bulb costing £45.

For more information head to www.meethue.com

Logitech’s Wi-Fi Webcam for Mac: Unleash your Inner Director

Logitech have announced they are launching a new Wi-Fi webcam for Mac users, the Logitech® Broadcaster Wi-Fi® Webcam. Aimed at bloggers and video professionals, as well as the general public, this new cam is packed with features that expand your video-making horizons.

Logitech-Mac-Wifi-Webcam

It’s designed to increase the number of ways in which you can stream and record videos, and offers versatility and quality in one little package. As well as providing the standard webcam features you can expect to find in most models today, Logitech’s new device comes with a few handy extras, making it the perfect gift for anyone who uses video on a regular basis.

The webcam is wireless, so you can record and stream videos from any angle you want. Its features and capabilities include live streaming, video chat and integration with Ustream. Compatible with iDevices, you can use a Mac, iPhone or iPad to control and preview the video. The webcam also works with QuickTime, Photo Booth and iMovie.

Thanks to its compatibility with a variety of video editing software, you can use the webcam as a second camera to produce a multi-angle video. Once you’re done recording, simply upload the two videos to software like Final Cut Pro, and splice the two together.

Even when you’re not creating the next big online viral sensation, you can still use the webcam with applications like Skype, FaceTime and iChat.

“The Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi Webcam lets you stream and record like a pro,” said Mike Culver, vice president of brand development for consumer computer platforms at Logitech. “It helps you make the most out of your existing Mac OS and iOS video setup for more dynamic live streaming, recording and video chatting. It goes where a built-in webcam can’t, and with one press of a button, it’s easy to switch between your built-in webcam and the Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi Webcam, so your friends and audience can enjoy a standard view or move around the room with you.”

More and more people are getting in front of the camera to make YouTube videos, online tutorials and marketing videos. The new Logitech webcam makes it easier than ever to create high-quality film at a low cost.

The Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi Webcam costs £159.99 and is available now from www.logitech.com.