TVs fizzle as portable/mobile products sizzle By Richard Sherwin, Amy Eller, Bob Plunkett, Rich Macias, Jennifer Auspitz, Christine Eads and Susan Davis. With special content from Gary Kaye and the Tech 50 plus news organization. OK, we got taken in by the Amazon Prime’s low ball day. From clothes to accessories and handheld products we indulged ourselves. But one of Amazon’s hottest products we declined to purchase because we found a better version away from the behemoth Etailer. Amazon’s Alexa enabled devices like the Echo, have been taking the U.S. by storm. It’s a speaker-microphone -controlled device that can run your web search, turn on your TV or home network controls or just play your favorite tunes. Triby is not the easiest on the eyes speaker-controller that you might see from Sonos or Bose or even Amazon. It is funky looking with changeable protection bumpers around the sides and seemingly difficult (at first) to use buttons. But after a few minutes and good tech support, this product was wonderful. The big difference from the Amazon Echo is that Triby has a convenient black and white screen for messages, breaking news, recipe reminders and more. While the Alexa driven Echo has decent sound, Triby has better audio quality and, from what we’ve examined, A BETTER microphone to give the device directions. In our second install, the directions for searching for content, questions and answers, music, product, setting alarms and using your voice are as easy as Siri or Google and, of course, way better than Microsoft’s voice controlled devices. Then again, my poodle is better at answering questions than Microsoft’s search engine. So here’s what you can do with Triby or Amazon Echo’s Alexa:
- The devices will play music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
- Both products fill the room with near 360 audio
- Both products allow for hands-free convenience with voice-control
- The Triby’s black and white message display is a convenient reminder note giver, and it’s magnetic back allows you to stick it on the fridge or just stand it alone in any room.
- Both products can hear you from across the room with far-afield voice recognition, even while music is playing
- Both products answer questions, read audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, give info on local businesses, provide sports scores and schedules and more using the Alexa Voice Service
- If you have compatible home control devices, (listed on web site) Alexa can operate lights, switches, and thermostats
- The Alexa-Amazon system is an open source operating system making it easier for programmers to create new applications to be added all the time.
We especially liked the yellow flag on the side of the Triby which reminds the user that a message is coming or already on the screen. Triby is about $20 more than the $179 Amazon Echo but has way more features and Jeff Bezos may be kicking himself for not adding the screen capability from the get-go. No summer doldrums for these products: It’s not just that summer reruns and awful summer replacements and vacations cause TV purchasing to fall off as much as 35% or more say media experts. It’s that more and more families are taking their TVs with them wherever they go. Tablets, smart phones with larger screens and even some exercise “Info” Wearables have seen an uptick the last three summers. And home control products, once just for geeks, have become mainstream purchases not requiring a TV to be part of the technology solution. And if the last four trade shows of the season are any indication, small kitchen and general housekeeping appliances are becoming must have items for any time of year. We waded through the many trade shows the last six weeks to give you these all around product picks: Our favorite home cooking appliances started off with the new coffee brewer model from DeLonghi. Our Food and Lifestyle editor Amy Eller loved the fact that Braun (now managed by the De’Longhi Group in the USA) has a bunch of products founded on simplicity, purity and functionality that makes the user experience completely intuitive. After tasting an entire brunch from Eggs Onsen Style with hollandaise to the Viennese Iced Coffee our Amy Eller could hardly wait to test drive the MQ777. Yes there was a bit of struggle to set it up that required two food tech experts with advanced college degrees to remove the paper but the rest was a breeze. Papaya, ginger, lime, jalapeno smoothie followed by a fava bean and spring pea hummus to accompany a chopped chicken salad with shredded, beets, carrot, fennel, radicchio and endive, dressed with miso vinaigrette and topped with toasted slivered almonds was a dream to prepare. The new Braun hand blender is built to give the user more control, featuring a brand new Smart Speed variable control technology inspired by German automotive engineering – allowing you to intuitively change the speed and power of the hand blender using just your touch instead of buttons. The more you squeeze, the more power you get, making it easy to regulate speeds with just one hand. Braun also developed and applied an exclusive PowerBell Technology for the Multiquick hand blenders, combining durable stainless steel blades, super easy to use, change and clean, and a unique bell-shaped blending shaft for fast and finer results. The Braun Multiquick 7 Hand Blender (model MQ777) comes complete with five attachments, along with an anti-splash shaft – including a whisk, masher, food processor and 20 fl. oz. beaker and the EasyClick system, which ensures that all attachments can be removed in one simple click The Multiquick Hand Blenders, PureMix Countertop Blenders and BrewSense Drip Coffee Makers are available at national retailers and online from $69.95 to $159.99 Gourmia, the Hot (literally) new company from Brooklyn Yes, we know, Braun and Philips and Black and Decker may be more famous, but the Brooklyn based small home appliance maker Gourmia has been selling out on Amazon and is soon to be in retail stores, too. The most talked about product Gourmia is making is the Gourmia GTA-2500 Electric Digital Air Fryer Griller and Roaster with Optimized Calorie Reduction Technology. This is truly guilt- free cooking. The GTA 2500 makes fried chicken, French fries, eggrolls and onion rings with air frying technology instead of deep frying in oil or added fat and grease yet still maintains incredible crispiness. Powerful convection current cooking continuously circulates air, crisping exteriors while moistening and tenderizing insides. Healthier meals recipes, 11 versatile attachments are included, giving you the power to do more with Gourmia's Free Fry 360. Bake, fry, grill, steam, roast and more, all in one appliance. The easy clean interior liner is nonstick and removable for clean-up. Its Star Wars looking design fits into any kitchen.
HTC Back in Game And when it comes to smartphones, Google’s Android operating system is clearly the winner, with almost 85% of the market (Apple’s iOS is under 15%, with Windows and BlackBerry phones less than 1% together). HTC was one of the first off brands to use the Android OS for Smart Phones but it never kept up with the features consumers wanted until now. So recently the company has returned to the high end market with the HTC 10, a sleek new model that they say takes into account what users told them they wanted. The HTC 10 has a beautifully-made aluminum body, curved to be easily held, with a Gorilla Glass front. It comes with a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM, plus about 20 GB more of onboard storage. A microSD card can be added for up to 2 TB of additional storage. There are front and rear facing cameras, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a USB-C port for both charging and transferring data. HTC says the battery life is up to 2 days and the phone can be quick-charged to 50% in just 30 minutes. The Backpack for the Ages (all) OK, it took nearly 16 years but our business traveling laptop backpack from Targus has had to become the backup backpack as we now carry more accessories and a bigger laptop. The 2016 Mobile VIP model from Targus fits laptops with up to 15.6" screens. The backpack opens in the middle, isolating the laptop on one side to allow for clear x-ray scanning. The polished details and slim composition of the 15.6” Mobile ViP Backpack make it easy to access all of your gear and gadgets with strategically located pockets, dividers, and compartments, while the patented checkpoint-friendly design helps you fly through airport screenings without removing your laptop. And, it’s made to protect. The SafePort® Sling keeps your laptop secure in case it’s dropped, and the weather-resistant base and pocket keep your laptop, tablet, and docs safe from the elements. It has a streamlined design that’s finished with leatherette and visible stitching for a tailored, professional look. We’ve seen as low as $75.
Kicker Kicks Butt Again with Upcoming Bullfrog Outdoor Speaker There some terrific Blue Tooth speakers out there but the one we look forward to when it launches in September is the fun loving Kicker Bullfrog. Kicker, the 46-year old Oklahoma born and bred car, home and outdoor speaker company, which prides itself in beating the bigger brands both in sound and quality, seems to have it done it again. Taking on industry leader Audiovox, the Kicker Bullfrog Jump ($399.95) is a water resistant 2.1-channel speaker which features dual four-inch drivers and dual three- by four-inch passive subwoofers in a weatherproof cabinet designed to produce a 360-degree soundfield outdoors. The Bullfrog supports a wireless connection to audio sources via Bluetooth, and it has an FM tuner and an auxiliary input, as well as an auxiliary output for daisy-chaining multiple Bullfrogs together. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 20 hours, and KICKER will launch a companion iOS/Android app for setup and control. Its heft ( about the weight of a gallon of milk) demonstrates that its solid built ready for camping, tailgating and any kind of outdoor activity. The Bullfrog Skip and Hop, smaller versions of the Jump, is due out a few months later. My Charge has many styles to offer At DFA, our team owns a bunch of IPhones and even more brands of Android Tablets, Smart Phones and Windows 10 PCs along with our Macs, too. And we share of backup and portable chargers but sometimes mix and matching doesn’t work as IPhone and Android connectors are not compatible. Many people have portable chargers to use in a pinch when their smartphone or tablet starts warning of a low battery. But most of those chargers are only useful if the cords for the phone or tablet are on hand. But help has arrived. At a recent trade show, we discovered a company called MyCharge which had solutions for each and every format, Operating system and sometimes a compatible cable connector attached to their chargers that supports Android and IOS at the same time. In addition the company has really nice designs for a product that’s usually the same no matter what company makes it. From the Colorful Style Power Model, a pre-charged soft touch finished, small, thin portable charger that easily fits into a purse or a jacket pocket to the HUBMAX series, designed for the most power hungry requirements, all contain both Android and IOS cables. The Hub Ultra-C has the most horses under the hood, delivering the most power. Other My Charge features include:
- USB-C Compatibility charges devices up to 15 times faster, reaching 50% battery charge for USB-C enabled smartphones in less than 30 minutes and 50% battery charge for USB-C enabled tablets in less than 60 minutes.
- Hyper-Charge™ charges smartphones – including the new iPhone 6 Plus – up to 30% faster than the Apple-supplied charger. Ø Safe Cell™ Technology delivers 12 layers of battery and device protection against over-charge, under-charge, over-current, over-temperature and short circuit.
- Rapid Recharge™ Technology recharges myCharge power banks up to four times faster than competitor’s chargers.
- Power stay™ Technology retains up to 60% of a full charge for up to one year. Safe Cell™ Technology delivers 12 layers of battery and device protection against over-charge, under-charge, over-current, over-temperature and short circuit.