OWC are more usually known for their line of Mac-compatible SSDs but unsurprisingly, they do have other products. Andy finds out more from Grant.
The unsightly profusion of mobile phone, tablet and other gadget chargers is a bane of modern life. OWC have a tidy and green solution in the shape of a standard power socket fitted with smart USB charging points which don’t draw power when not in use. It’s approved by UL, too, so it’s home safe. The Power2U is available now for $27.99. OWC – please do a UK version too.
Moving on, iPads are an easy target for thieves and corporate devices doubly so. OWC’s iPad GripStand Station securely stores, recharges and syncs up to 8 iPads at once, even when the iPads are fitted with a GripStand. The security bar and padlock make petty theft much more difficult. Available now from $379, which I gather is a somewhat of a bargain.
Allure Energy introduced their latest energy management product, EverSense, at CES 2012. Andy learns how to save money on your electricity bill from Kevin, Allure Energy.
Allure Energy’s EverSense, a thermostat replacement technology, is based around a tablet device that can make intelligent energy decisions on your behalf. The proximity control feature raises or lowers the temperature in your based on how far away you are from your home. By using a GPS app on your iPhone (or Android smartphone) that sends back your location, EverSense knows where you and if you are coming home, it adjusts the temperature to your preferences. Cool.
At CES‘s Digital Experience, Andy talks with Built To Tylt about their funky designs for smartphones and other portable gadgets. Check their website as these guys have got some great stuff.
The Tylt Band is a smartphone car charger made of a colourful flat silicon rubber cable that is nearly impossible tangle. Micro-USB and Apple connectors are available there’s an extra standard USB socket near the base of the cable for plugging in another device.
Tylt also have two portable battery packs, the Zumo and the PowerPlant, with 1500 mAh and 5,200 mAh batteries respectively. The Zumo is intended for the emergency smartphone charging, whereas the larger PowerPlant can part charge a tablet or recharge a smartphone several times.
Finally, if you are an iPhone owner, you might be interested in Tylt’s new iPhone cases, one of which comes with a lens cover to protect the camera and another that has a built-in kickstand (kickband?) to angle the iPhone for movie watching.
iLuv will be familiar to many with their extensive range of matching accessories for tablets, smartphones and MP3 players. At CES this year, iLuv won no less than 5 CES Innovations Honoree awards to add to their collection of accolades. Todd gets a review of their latest products from Peter of iLuv.
The DreamTraveler is combined iPhone dock, USB charger and mains power strip squared aimed at those unfortunate souls who have to spend time in poorly equipped hotel rooms. It has two USB charging ports, three power outlets and an Apple connector for charging iPhones, iPods and iPads.
For the international traveller, iLuv has the RockWall, a dual USB charger that comes with the right mains plugs for different countries round the world.
Finally, the Mo’Beats is a portable tablet or smartphone cradle with Bluetooth wireless speakers that has a built-in lithium-ion battery which will run for about 4 hours.
All the products will be available in April or May. The Mo’Beats SRP is expected to be $89.99 but the website is currently showing $99.99. I think Peter gets his prices mixed up in the video as the RockWall is priced at $49.99 on the website and the DreamTraveler is $129.99.
Zagg’s protective films are popular “first purchases” for new smartphone owners and but Zagg offer other products in the mobile working space. Todd chats to Nate from Zagg to about the Zagg Sparq, a portable rechargeable battery pack.
The Sparq is mains charged, with two front-facing USB ports to recharge any portable device with a USB-type connector. The internal battery has sufficient capacity to recharge four times the average smartphone. Perfect for when you’re on the road.
Available now for $99.99 from Zagg online with free shipping.
The nest thermostat has received more than its fair share of press coverage recently, but that’s because it’s both smart, cool and well-designed. Todd chats with Kate from nest about this great new product.
The nest thermostat is a smart thermostat that learns from your habits and behaviours and adjusts itself to match them, turning the heat up when you want it and down when you are out of the home. It’s exceptionally easy to use – you turn it up, you turn it down, that’s it. The nest has several learning modes, including schedule learning and activity detection, which help it keep you comfortable but the energy costs down.
The nest thermostat costs $249 but it’s on back order because it’s been so popular. The thermostat comes with everything you need to install the devices yourself, including a screwdriver!
Todd interviews Greg Memo from GreenWave Reality, a global innovator in the emerging smart home services market including home monitoring and elderly care. On show is their home energy management solution that uses wireless (ZigBee) plug-in devices to monitor and control power consumption.
The system is not just limited to power management as other remote monitoring and control technologies such as lighting and video can be included. The complementary iPad app allows the homeowner to select individual rooms within the property and make adjustments if necessary – for example, a thermostat could be turned down or the timings changed to alter when the heat comes on.
The overall solution won a CES 2012 Innovations Award so congratulations to GreenWave. Available now, starting from $200.
Today’s smartphones are energy-sucking devices that can rarely go for a day or two without charging. I fondly remember my Nokia 6210 that could go a business week without needing a charge, but enough of the reminiscing.
If you do have a thirsty smartphone (or you get one for Christmas) and you find that the battery lets you down, you might be interested in Mugen Power Batteries, suppliers of replacement batteries for smartphones and other devices. Typically, a Mugen battery will offer an extra 10%-25% over the OEM battery of the same size. Take the battery for the HTC Wildfire S - the OEM is 1250 mAh but the Mugen version is 1500 mAh, giving an extra 22% more juice.
If you really need much more power, Mugen also sells batteries so big that you need a new back cover to fit it in. For the Samsung Galaxy S II, Mugen offers a 3200 mAh battery which nearly doubles the energy of the stock battery (1650 mAh), but the battery size increases too and a new back cover is needed. If you value talk time over aesthetics, it’s the only way to go.
Even Apple products are catered for, though as the iPhones et al don’t have user-replaceable batteries, the additional power has to come from an external unit.
Mugen are fairly well-known if you follow any of the main smartphone forums, and there are other vendors out there, but they seem to have the widest range with a good reputation, so if you need more power for your smartphone, check them out.
Jeffrey Powers talks to David Wang and Joshua Caillavet of General Electric about the GE EV Watt station, which is a charging station for electric cars. This is a level 2 charger, operating from 240V, rather than 110V, giving shorter recharge times for EVs (electric vehicles), say 4 to 8 hours, rather than 15 to 18 hours associated with a level 1 charger.
Fortunately, common sense seems to have prevailed with electric cars and a charging connector standard has been agreed by the manufacturers, so there shouldn’t be any compatibility problems between chargers and EVs.
Andy and Tom interview Elizabeth Kurfess, Product Manager for General Electric on GE Nucleus, a home energy management system. As utilities start to install smart meters on the outside of homes, the Nucleus unit wireless communicates with the smart meter to bring information on power consumption and tariffs into the home, allowing the homeowner to make intelligent decisions about the use of electrical power.
The information held in Nucleus can be shown on the homeowner’s PC or smartphone so that a real-time view of power consumption can be seen.
Nucleus can also connect to GE’s Brillion-enabled household appliances (white goods) to get information on consumption and instruct the appliance to stop or start depending on price. For example, a tumble dryer could be told to start drying once the cheap rate cuts in or stop if an expensive tariff comes on-line.
Wireless communication uses the Zigbee specification to pass the information between the appliances, the smart meter and the Nucleus. Information comes from the meter every15 seconds. Unfortunately, not every smart meter uses Zigbee – each manufacturer is different.