Skip to content

Archive for

6
Oct

GoGroove RCV Bluetooth Receiver review: Bring your wired setup into the wireless world


GoGroove produces a multitude of accessories that nicely complement your smartphone experience. One of these that caught my eye was the RCV Bluetooth Receiver. You see, the wireless world is a growing one. Like with the move of cars to electric power, we have hybrids to help the transition.

DSC03854

The RCV is a small device that adds wireless capability where it is lacking. And you want to know the cool part? It can route the signal either way, to or from. What does this mean?

Well, you’d probably guess the typically use case for the RCV would be to plug into a computer, speaker, or even car audio and receive tunes to your Bluetooth headphones. You’d be right, that’s the primary purpose of the RCV. But what if you didn’t have Bluetooth headphones?

You can actually interface your wired headphones into the RCV (using a 3.5mm coupler) and the RCV will pick up the audio signal from your smartphone and transmit it to the headphones. Pretty cool, huh?

gogroove_RCV

Design

The RCV has a specific purpose, so there isn’t much to it. It’s a small, egg-shaped device, a little bigger than an average thumb. The build is a fairly standard affair. It’s a common plastic, neither cheap or expensive feeling. It does the job.

DSC03832

There’s a single button on the front (to power on/off and pair). We have tiny rubber feet on the bottom, to help the device stay in place on a surface. However, the RCV is so lightweight that if it wants to move, it will.

DSC03835

A 3.5mm plug extends out of the device, ready to plug into an audio source. The attached cord is a flat cable, which is nice to avoid annoying tangles. The cord length is only 4 inches, but GoGroove supplies an extension cable if that’s too little reach for your particular source.

Usability

The one button provides two functions, either turning the RCV on/off or triggering it to pair via Bluetooth. It was easy to get set up on my Note5. The RCV flashes red/blue rapidly when you initialize Bluetooth pairing, and then just select it on the phone.

The package for the RCV comes with a few helpful accessories.

gogroove_rcv_accessories

There’s a 3.5mm coupler (3.5mm-to-3.5mm jack, to transmit audio to the connected headset or speaker), a 3.5mm extension cord (42in. length), an RCA adapter, microUSB cable (for charging via a USB port), and Velcro to stick the RCV on a wall or car dashboard.

GoGroove rates the battery to last through 15 hours of playback. The Bluetooth range starts cutting off at about 40ft.

I was pretty impressed by the sound. It is generally understood that the Bluetooth audio signal is not as good as wired, but I didn’t notice much of a difference in audio quality (streaming via Google Play Music, high quality). I did get a hint of veil-ness in the overall sound clarity when comparing wired to wireless. But the difference was so slight, you shouldn’t notice it unless you’re looking for it.

Final Thoughts

DSC03839

The RCV is an excellent offering by GoGroove. It’s a simple device that has many applications: Bluetooth audio transmission to your car speakers, or from your TV or laptop to your Bluetooth headphones. I can wirelessly transmit audio to my wired earphones and just tuck the RCV in my front shirt pocket.

The RCV also does it’s job well. I barely noticed any degradation in audio quality and the battery lasts a long while. And the Bluetooth range is decent considering its size.

On Amazon, the RCV runs for $30, here. This isn’t a bad price when you consider the extra we typically pay for the convenience of being wireless.

The post GoGroove RCV Bluetooth Receiver review: Bring your wired setup into the wireless world appeared first on AndroidGuys.

Advertisements
6
Oct

Watch how game music went from beeps to Sound Blaster


You can’t enjoy retro games without digging the music, and a YouTube video (below) shows exactly how those tunes evolved. As explained by the 8-Bit Guy and Obsolete Geek, early PCs and Apple machines used “beeper speakers” that were driven strictly by your computer’s CPU. Those only produced crude sounds, because forcing the CPU to do more actually hurt gameplay. Computers and consoles eventually got dedicated sound chips, but each used a different number of “voices,” producing the distinctive differences between, say, a Nintendo NES and a Commodore 64 system.

Clever programming improved the tunes in those systems, but eventually PC sound cards came along with 9-channel Yamaha synth chips, giving music designers larger palette. A bit later, the Commodore Amiga arrived with a sampling chip, resulting in the distinctive late ’80s and early ’90s sounds heard in games and pop music. Modern systems generally just play music files straight from MP3s, but the music itself owes a big debt to the creativity it took just to get it to work back in the day. If you don’t believe it, listen to some chiptunes or ask the composers themselves.

Source: The 8-bit Guy

6
Oct

View-Master introduces kids to VR with space and wild animals


Mattel wants to make virtual reality kid-friendly. The company’s been trying to bring its toys into the digital age for the last year or so. Barbie received a speech-recognition makeover; a plush Smart Toy learned how to talk; and earlier this year, the toymaker announced it would leverage Google’s Cardboard technology to revamp its iconic View-Master. The new iteration of the viewer was expected to offer an introductory virtual reality experience at an affordable price. Now as the viewer makes its way to shelves this month, the company has unveiled the 360-degree experiences that are designed to be a child’s first brush with virtual reality.

The View-Master starter kit includes a shiny red viewer that’s equipped with a slot for a wide range of smartphones (including the iPhone 6 Plus and Nexus 6) and a preview reel collectively priced at $30. There are three VR experience packs, in reel or app form, to choose from. Each pack can be bought for an additional $15 and has been carefully constructed for kids age seven and up. Mattel brought in the expertise of NASA and National Geographic for its space and wildlife packs, respectively, while the destinations experience has been captured on-site with a 360-degree camera.

When I launched into the space pack, a computer-generated universe that’s been built on the Unity game engine, I expected sweeping views of the galaxy à la Hollywood. But instead, a bright yellow, animated sun, surrounded by planets and dotted orbit paths, instantly caught my eye. The glitchy solar system was reminiscent of a ’90s video game and, at first, it did little to transport me to the Milky Way.

Mattel View-Master

As I continued to journey through the solar system, I spotted Earth on an orbit close by. Parts of the globe that were away from the sun stayed hidden in darkness, but as I moved around the planet, vivid details in blue and green came to life. When I gazed at the planet long enough, and pushed down the View-Master’s lever, it turned into a 3D object that I could move and examine. Popups revealed information and a bright red menu at my feet led me to a “mini-game.” When I pulled the lever again, while staring at the game icon, I found myself in a green field where I could catapult soccer balls at targets based on the planet’s gravitational pull that popped up on a screen. The same could be repeated on all the other planets.

While the visual experience was semi-immersive, Mattel had clearly retained its edutainment heritage in space. I constantly had access to facts and figures and that was enough to keep me engrossed for a few minutes each time. The wildlife experience, on the other hand, balanced both facts and visuals better than its space counterpart. Depending on the reel, you could end up in the African savanna, Amazon rainforest or Australian outback. As a bonus, Mattel’s imported National Geographic‘s 2D videos into the 360-degree experience. So with one quick push of the lever, you can see highlights of the region or animals in text and watch a short video for context.

For my excursion through the savanna, I tried Mattel’s version of augmented reality. I stared down at a reel for a few seconds to see a small lion pop up in the air. I leaned in and pulled the lever to be transported to the animal’s habitat. A wide-open field of pale yellow grass and a zeal of zebras stood before me. As I looked up at the bright blue sky, I saw the sun shining overhead. Back on the ground, an icon popped up in front of me to reveal information about the habitat.

The third and final pack — a virtual tour — allows you to visit landmarks in New York, Greece, London and Mexico. It’s a collection of what Mattel is calling “360 photospheres” or images shot on-site with a 360-degree camera that were later stitched and layered with CG to add movement. The real-life imagery sets up the expectation that this would be the most powerful of the three packs. But within seconds of being in London, where images of riverside Thames looked more animated than realistic, I found myself missing the fully simulated lions and zebras of the savanna.

Unlike other VR headsets, the View-Master isn’t a strap-on device. Holding it in front of your eyes, with a smartphone slotted in, can get tedious after a few minutes. As a Mattel representative pointed out, the design should force kids to take breaks between immersive experiences. In effect, these breaks could make it easier to view the content in small, digestible snippets minus the dizziness that has long been associated with VR. As the most affordable link in the VR food chain, Mattel’s viewer might not have the power-packed performance of a Rift or a Gear VR. But for now, it may well be the safest and easiest way for kids to experiment with a new visual medium that is now effectively taking shape around them.

[Images credit: Mattel (Product renders)]

6
Oct

The Hubble Telescope’s breathtaking views of space


We already showed the Hubble Telescope some love back in the spring when it turned 25. However, since it’s Space Week, we thought we’d revisit some of its amazing space imagery once more. Since it launched aboard the Space Shuttle discovery in 1995, Hubble has captured breathtaking views of planets, galaxies and more for us to enjoy. That being said, let’s get started with the telescope’s most recent work: a photo of spiral galaxy NGC 613. Slideshow-326506

6
Oct

Microsoft’s upgraded Band is a little sleeker, and smarter too


For all its promise and potential, the original Microsoft Band wasn’t exactly a runaway hit. It’s OK — they can’t all be winners. Even more surprising than the Band’s existence in the first place is that Microsoft is taking another crack at the fitness gadget formula with a 2015 model of its oft-scorned wearable. It’s a little smarter and a little sleeker, and maybe — just maybe — that’ll be enough to change a few minds on the matter.Slideshow-326562

In case you forgot (or never had a Band to start with) the major gripes with last year’s version dealt mostly with lackluster design and comfort — sort of a big deal when you’re supposed to wear this thing all over the place. After a bit of fiddling around, though, Microsoft seems to have had varying degrees of success fixing what ailed the Band. First, it’s not a clunky mess anymore. With its bright, curved OLED screen, this year’s Band comes off a bit more like a Gear Fit, which is hardly a bad thing — of all the Fit’s faults, people generally seemed to dig the look. Microsoft also moved the new Band’s battery out of the top of the bracelet and into the bulbous clasp, making the whole thing feel way less stiff and cumbersome than before. Is it the most comfortable wearable I’ve ever tried on? No way — it’s still a little stiff for my taste though choosing the right size option should help at least a little. On the plus side though, Microsoft says the Band’s two day battery life wasn’t impacted by the design change, and those pesky charging spots won’t ever touch your skin (and get dirty) again.

What people weren’t really concerned about was shoehorning another sensor into the Band, but Microsoft did anyway, bringing the total count to eleven. That means we now have a barometer in addition to sensors for motion, heart rate, light, location, skin temperature, galvanic skin response, V02Max and more. Microsoft’s wearable might not be the prettiest thing out there, but it’s certainly one of the most observant. Throw in the ability to communicate with Cortana and support for third-party apps from Uber to Starbucks to Subway (for when the urge for a generic sub is just too much to bear) and we’ve got a surprisingly substantive upgrade to a seriously divisive device. We won’t render a verdict on this thing until we get to review it properly — it’s set to launch on October 30 — but this road won’t be an easy one for Microsoft. Mass opinions haven’t really crystallized around specific fitness gadgets they way they have for smartphone brands, but we’ll soon see if Redmond did enough to bring the Band back from the brink.

6
Oct

Move over Bose. Fugoo’s entire line of portable speakers are now at Best Buy


Back in may I had the opportunity to test the best portable speaker I have ever used – the Fugoo Tough speaker. It was not only mud-proof, water-proof, and shock-resistant, but it was also loaded with speakers that sounded incredible. There was no trade-off in any area and blew the competition out of the water.

Now in time for the holiday season, Fugoo has partnered up with Best Buy to sell their entire line of speakers in store and online.

For many people, they like to touch and hear speakers before they make a purchase. Being in Best Buy stores will give credence to the rave reviews that are on the web about the Fugoo speakers. Go listen to one for yourself and decide if you want portability, excellent sound quality, best in class battery life, and unmatched durability with style. The Fugoo speakers offer true 360 degree sound and are perfect both both indoor and outdoor use. Read about both below.

FUGOO Style XL, Sport XL, Tough XL – Bigger, Badder and Louder

FUGOO’s newest speakers, the Style XL, Sport XL and Tough XL, deliver 38 watts of audio power via eight acoustic drivers; four neodymium tweeters, two neodymium aluminum domed mid-woofers and two passive radiators.  To get true 360-degree audio, the drivers are strategically placed on all four sides at an eight-degree upward angle to deliver a 360-degree sweet spot.  They easily fill an indoor or outdoor space in all directions with rich full bass, solid midrange, and crisp distinct highs.

The perfect companion for those who don’t want to be tethered to an electrical outlet or power bank, FUGOO XLs deliver 35 hours of battery life, easily outlasting any other speaker of its size – and even smaller ones – two or three times over. For added convenience, they can also fast charge a smartphone or tablet directly from the USB charge port, and six dedicated control buttons (which glow on the Sport XL) make it easy to control the music directly from the speaker. In addition, the Style XL and Sport XL float in water, making them the perfect speaker for open water expeditions.

FUGOO Style, Sport, Tough – Small and Powerful

FUGOO’s smaller award-winning speakers, the Style, Sport and Tough, are lightweight and highly transportable, making them ideal for travel. They feature six drivers: two tweeters, two mid-woofers and two passive radiators, also placed on all four sides at an eight-degree upward angle for 360-degree audio. And with 40 hours of battery life, they’ll often last a week or two of normal use without needing a recharge.

Availability and Prices

Best Buy is Fugoo’s exclusive retail partner on the Style XL and Tough XL until Jan. 31, 2016. The Fugoo Style XL and Tough XL as well as Fugoo’s complete line of smaller speakers, the Fugoo Style, Sport and Tough, and accessories are available now in Best Buy’s U.S. stores and on BestBuy.com. The Sport XL and additional accessories are available at BestBuy.com. They will be in Best Buy’s Canadian stores and on BestBuy.ca by mid-October.

The MSRP for the Style XL is $279.99, the MSRP for the Sport XL is $299.99, and the MSRP for the FUGOO Tough XL is $329.99. The MSRP for the Style is $179.99, the MSRP for the Sport is $199.99, and the MSRP for the Tough is $229.99.

 

The post Move over Bose. Fugoo’s entire line of portable speakers are now at Best Buy appeared first on AndroidGuys.

6
Oct

High-end Windows Phones make a comeback with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL


You could be forgiven for forgetting that Windows Phones were ever really a thing — iOS and Android devices keep making headlines. After all, it’s been ages since we got a high-end phone from Microsoft or one of its partners. It was… frustrating to say the least, especially if you were one of those people who fell under the spell of Microsoft’s mega-marketing blitz. Now, though, we’ve got two new high-end Windows Phones — the Lumia 950 and 950 XL — ready to bring the best of Redmond’s new vision of software straight into our pockets. I spent a little time here in New York CIty to futz around with both, and one thing seems clear: While the hardware doesn’t feel like Microsoft’s best, there are plenty of good ideas here. Slideshow-326526

Let’s start with the Lumia 950 (and disregard for a moment how the weirdo naming scheme Microsoft adopted from Nokia would imply that this thing is somehow inferior to a two-year-old phone). It’s a surprisingly light thing, with a body hewn almost entirely of plastic — definitely not what you’d expect from a supposed premium Windows Phone. Still, between its light chassis and the 5.2-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen running up front, it’s an awfully comfortable thing to hold for a while; it was a welcome change after having used an iPhone 6s Plus for a week or two.

Meanwhile, I’m told the 20-megapixel camera on the 950’s back is capable of capturing better photos than even the Lumia 1020 did (with the added benefit of fitting nicely in a pocket). That’s thanks in part to an f/1.9 aperture lens and optical image stabilization, and while the few sample photos I shot in this dark, rave-y warehouse environment turned out surprisingly well, I’ll hold off my judgment until we can take this thing outside. The 950 also rocks a USB Type-C port along its bottom edge instead of the usual micro-USB, but a spokesperson confirmed that it’ll play nice with wireless chargers too (just in case you were worried). Microsoft went with Qualcomm’s hexa-core Snapdragon 808 (clocked at 1.8GHz) with 3GB of RAM to power the show and it’s about as quick as you’d expect a high-end chipset to run in a Windows Phone — that is, very.Slideshow-326539

The “XL” moniker might make you think the only difference is it has a bigger screen. Erm, not quite. Sure, the XL’s Quad HD AMOLED display comes in at 5.7 inches diagonal, but it also packs a slightly snappier (on paper, anyway) 2.0GHz Snapdragon 810 chipset again paired with 3GB of RAM. I say “on paper” because Windows Phone was always one of those platforms that never needed a lot of horsepower to provide slippery-smooth performance — that’s mostly the case here too, though that speedier silicon should help when you connect the phone to a display via a dock accessory and get your Continuum on. That’s probably where the liquid-cooling tech (originally seen in the Surface Pro 3) comes in — lashing these things to a big screen must certainly pushing these things to the limit, though not many Microsoft staffers were keen to dig into detail here. I didn’t mind the 950’s lightness so much, but the 950 feels similarly airy… and lacking in the sort of material gravitas that older high-end Lumias were known for. I know, I know: I’m probably alone in loving slightly heavy phones, but at least the 950XL is surprisingly easy to hang on to thanks to its weight and despite its bigger screen. Oh, and the icing on the cake? Both phones have expandable memory slots and removable batteries.

A bombastic Continuum demo drew cheers during the presentation, and for good reason — the ease with which these phones basically turned into tiny computers was near-astonishing. Connecting the phones to a display with the help of a tiny adapter box let the multiple Universal apps preloaded onto the phone — think Word, Outlook and the like — breathe easier with more screen real estate. The jury’s still out on how many normal, phone-shopping consumers will want to turn their phones into mostly capable desktops, but you know what? Continuum really, properly works. Neither Lumia is equipped to seriously replace a laptop thanks to the feature, but it’s a welcome touch for when you need just a little more room to get things done.

Microsoft has plenty to be proud of her: After cooking up a mobile platform that seemed destined for very little, Windows 10 feels like a really meaningful step forward. What remains to be seen is whether people shopping for smartphones will take a chance — even a deserved one — on Microsoft’s mobile comeback. For Microsoft’s sake, and for the sake of the competition that’ll push all players to do a little better, I hope they do.

6
Oct

VAIO’s convertible PC for creatives lands in the US


As promised, VAIO (Sony’s now spun-off PC brand) is returning to the US. To start, it’s just a single model, the Z Canvas. The 12.3-inch convertible Windows 10 PC comes with a stylus capable of 1024 levels of sensitivity, a wireless keyboard and with pretty sharp WQXGA+ screen it’s pitched to sketchers and photographers, and trying to appeal to the same crowd that’s eyeing up that incoming iPad Pro. It’s on sale now, online at VAIO and Microsoft’s retail sites, with prices starting at $2,199 with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD. Those looking to do serious business can upgrade all the way up to a 1TB storage setup and 16GB of memory.

Source: Business Wire

6
Oct

The Surface Pro 4 vs. the competition: Tablets for productivity


It’s been an up-and-down ride for Microsoft’s line of Surface tablets — but the company finally hit on a formula that worked with the Surface Pro 3. It’s a device that has inspired a number of competitors, most recently from Microsoft’s long-standing rivals Apple and Google. The newly-announced iPad Pro and Pixel C both take clear and obvious cues from the Surface lineup, but fortunately for Microsoft it now has a brand-new Surface Pro 4 to compete with these newcomers. While much of your interest in these devices will likely come from which operating system you prefer, we’ve lined up the specs below so you can get an idea as to how these tablets will all stack up when they hit stores later this year.

Surface Pro 4 iPad Pro Pixel C
Price starts at $899 $799, $949, $1,079 $499, $599
Thickness 8.45mm (0.33 inches) 6.9mm (0.27 inches) 7.1mm (0.28 inches)
Weight 766 or 786g (1.69 or 1.73 pounds) 713 or 723g (1.57 or 1.59 pounds) estimated 454g (1 pound)
OS Windows 10 iOS 9 Android 6.0
Display 12.3-inch PixelSense display 12.9-inch IPS LCD Retina display 10.2-inch LCD
Resolution 2,763 x 1,824 (267 ppi) 2,732 x 2,048 (265 ppi) 2,560 x 1,800 (308 ppi)
Aspect ratio 3:2 4:3 3:2
Processor Intel m3 / i5 / i7 Apple A9X Nvidia Tegra X1
Memory 4 / 8 / 16GB NA 3GB
Storage 128 / 256 / 512GB 32 / 128GB 32 / 64GB
Ports microSD, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port, Surface Connect Lightning USB Type-C
Front camera 5MP 1.2MP FaceTime, f2.2 2MP
Rear camera 8MP, 1080p 8MP iSight, f/2.4, 1080p video at 30fps 8MP
Cellular radio None Optional
GSM/EDGE
CDMA
UMTS/HSPA/
HSPA+/DC-HSDPA
LTE
None
WiFi Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Yes
Bluetooth v4.0 v4.2 Yes
Accelerometer Yes Yes Yes
Gyroscope Yes Yes Yes
Battery 9 hours 10 hours TBA
Accessories Surface Pen, Surface Pro Type Cover Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil Keyboard Cover

Get all the news from today’s Microsoft event right here.

6
Oct

Surface Book vs. the competition: Battle of the flagship laptops


Microsoft Surface Book

And then there were three: with the introduction of the Surface Book, Microsoft has joined Apple and Google in offering a premium laptop that runs its own platform. But how does it stack up next to its rivals, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Chromebook Pixel? We’ve put the specs of each side by side to help you sort things out. As you’ll soon see, the three only share a few things in common. They reflect the unique philosophies of their creators, whether it’s Microsoft’s fondness for tablets, Apple’s preference for powerful (if conventional) laptops or Google’s desire for lean-and-mean web machines.

Surface Book MacBook Pro (13-inch) Chromebook Pixel
Price $1,499 to $2,699 $1,299 to $1,799 $999 to $1,299
Thickness 22.8mm (0.9 inches) 18mm (0.71 inches) 15.3mm (0.6 inches)
Weight 728g (1.6 pounds) tablet only / 1.51kg (3.34 pounds) with keyboard 1.58kg (3.48 pounds) 1.5kg (3.3 pounds)
OS Windows 10 OS X El Capitan Chrome OS
Display 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen display 13.3-inch IPS LCD Retina display 12.85-inch touchscreen LCD
Resolution 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) 2,560 x 1,600 (227 ppi) 2,560 x 1,700 (239 ppi)
Aspect ratio 3:2 16:10 3:2
Processor Intel 6th-generation Core i5 or i7 Intel 5th-generation Core i5 or i7 Intel 5th-generation Core i5 or i7
Memory 8GB to 16GB of RAM 8GB to 16GB of RAM 8GB to 16GB of RAM
Graphics Intel HD or NVIDIA GeForce Intel Iris Graphics 6100 Intel HD Graphics 5500
Storage 128GB to 512GB SSD 128GB to 512GB SSD 32GB or 64GB flash storage
Ports 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, Mini DisplayPort 2 Thunderbolt 2, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, HDMI 2 USB 3.0 Type-C, 2 USB 3.0 Type-A, SD card reader
Front camera 5MP 720p FaceTime HD 720p
Rear camera 8MP NA NA
WiFi 802.11ac 802.11ac 802.11ac
Bluetooth v4.0 v4.0 v4.0
Tablet mode Yes No No
Battery 12 hours 10 hours 12 hours
Accessories Surface Pen NA NA
%d bloggers like this: