Audyssey is hoping to gain a foothold in the already crowded iPhone/iPod speaker dock market with the Audyssey Audio Dock: South of Market Edition. Audyssey chose San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood as the eponym for its maiden iDevice-centric product because of its “eclectic mix of restaurants, nightclubs, start-ups and artist lofts.”
As an audio system, it doesn't exclusively cater to the iPhone/iPod-brandishing crowd, but any bluetooth-enabled device can be used to wirelessly stream music to the dock. It has a built-in speakerphone for times when an important call takes precedence over an ongoing private listening session, allowing you to seamlessly “switch from a playlist to a conference call.”
The dock, when connected to a Mac or PC, allows you to stream audio, sync to iTunes, charge the iPhone or iPod and make VoIP calls. According to Audyssey, its looks are sure to be a talking point. But what it forgot to mention is that most of the conversations the dock evokes are likely to be critical of its design.
“The system is bi-amplified like a professional studio monitor and the sound quality is delivered by five of Audyssey’s proprietary technologies:Audyssey Dynamic Voice, Audyssey EQ, Audyssey Dynamic EQ, Audyssey BassXT and Audyssey Dynamic Volume,” the company said in a release.
Audyssey still has a bit of time to reconsider the Audio Dock's $400 price tag. The dock is scheduled to make its debut in November.
There's a new version of Bluetooth on the way, one that will use less power and could potentially open the door to more functional watches, home sensors, medical equipment, and other gear that typically doesn't have the luxury of frequent battery recharges.
"It's going to enable an entirely new market for Bluetooth and allow it to be used in a category of products that Bluetooth just couldn't be used in before," said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.
According to the Group, the chips for the low-energy version of Bluetooth will be ready in a just a few months, likely resulting in products being ready in time for the holiday shopping season. Health and fitness products, such as pedometers and glucose monitors, could end up being a big focus of these new Bluetooth chips.
"Today’s news from the Bluetooth SIG is an exciting step forward for technology in mobile health and wellness devices," said Rick Cnossen, president and board chair, Continua Health Alliance. "Our selection of Bluetooth low energy for the Continua Version Two Design Guidelines extends exciting new capabilities to manufacturers and consumers alike, as well as enabling additional use cases within the Continua ecosystem."
Question: What do Acer, Apple, Atheros, Belkin, Broadcom, D-Link, Dell, Gateway, HP, Intel, Lenovo, LG, Mavell, Motorola, Sony, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, UTStarcom all have in common? Answer: They're all being sued by Canadian company Wi-Lan for allegedly infringing on a Bluetooth patent, one that covers a "method for frequency sharing and frequency punchout in frequency hopping communications network." The patent deals almost entirely with Bluetooth equipped PCs and mobile handsets.
"If the company has a valid claim, then a small licensing settlement is appropriate," said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies.
Wi-Lan, whose portfolio includes over 800 patents that have either been issued or are pending, is seeking unspecified damages and a permanent injunction. This isn't the first time Wi-Lan has gone to court over patent disputes, as the company has a long history of doing so.
The current lot of PDAs, and perhaps their smartphone and Tablet PC stand-ins, are neat technology, but could you go to war with one? (Maybe even more relevant: could you afford to drop yours?) If what you need is something that will withstand a lot more abuse, AIS Industrial Innovations has something that might interest you: the Mobile Rugged PDA (RPDA37), with the looks and brawn that pair well with your cosplay Master Chief outfit.
The Mobile Rugged PDA is MIL-STD-810F/461F compliant, has an “ingress protection rating of IP67” and meets the IEC 60529 (IP65) international protection standard. It’s build to withstand extreme conditions, repeated five-foot drops, and thermal shock. And it has cool rubberized bumpers.
While that’s impressive, perhaps the internal specs aren’t. The RPDA37 has a Marvell PXA270 625MHz processor, 256MB RAM, and a base storage of 256MB Flash ROM. It has a 3.7-inch transflective TFT LCD that’s touchscreen capable. Resolution depends on the option chosen: either QVGA, 240 x 320, or VGA, 480 x 640. And for operating systems there’s a choice of Windows CE 5.0 or Windows Mobile 6.1.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are standard, but GPS/GAlILEO and GPRS/3G/3.5G are optional. Ports include two USB 1.1 Type A connectors, one USB 1.1 Type B mini connector, an RS-232 port, and ethernet port, headphone and microphone jacks, and a Micro-SD slot.
If you really got to have one you’re going to need to save. The base model will set you back $1,899.
Smaller, faster, cheaper is a mantra for today’s mobile communications hardware. Texas Instruments (TI) has taken this to heart, and tossed in multi-tasking and lower power consumer as well. TI is announcing a new chip, the WiLink 7.0, that rolls up Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and FM radio onto a chip that takes up less room, uses less power, and costs less than current multi-chip solutions.
TI says the WiLink crams all of the above into a single 65-nanometer chip, that requires 30 percent less material to build, and takes up 50% less space than existing two-chip solutions. Furthermore, TI says the WiLink will extend talk time and battery life with “Sophisticated Enhanced Low Power (ELP) technology.”
TI claims the WiLink offers best-in-class 3GPP test performance; supports both Bluetooth low-energy and Bluetooth 3.0; will support WiFi Direct and Soft AP as well as 802.11 a/b/g/n; and has improved FM transmit and receive capabilities with internal antenna support.
And, by placing all of them on the same chip, TI says it is able to reduce RF interference to insignificant levels, allowing all four components to operate at the same time without messing with each other. According to TI, a “mobile-device users could determine their current position with GPS, download a related map over a WLAN connection, and listen to an FM radio station over a Bluetooth headset all at the same time.”
Undisclosed OEMs already have the chip, which leads Engadget to speculate that prototype phones may make an appearance at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. TI expects the chip to be in mass-produced devices by the end of 2010.
If you’re bored to tears with all the features high end motherboards tend to have, Asus is aiming this product at you. The new Asus ROG Maximus III Extreme has a trick new to motherboards. You can tweak the settings via a Bluetooth enabled cell phone. So if your CPU is feeling a little tired, why not overclock it via your wireless handset?
The current incarnation of the Republic of Gamers series allows users to connect another computer via USB to adjust settings on the fly. The Bluetooth can also be used for other purposes. “RC Bluetooth is also capable of performing standard Bluetooth functions, such as stereo music playback, Skype messaging, Internet access via a Bluetooth phone, and mobile phone or PDA synchronization,” said the Asus press release.
The Maximus III also packs all the features you’d expect plus a little more. It will rock USB 3.0 and SATA 6G. Users will also find 5 PCIe 8x connections. Curiously, this particular board will be socket LGA 1156 instead of the higher end LGA 1366.
Wi-Fi’s about to get a whole new look to it, one that eerily resembles Bluetooth. The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced it is nearing completing of specifications for Wi-Fi Direct which will provide peer-to-peer connections between any two Wi-Fi devices, such as mobile phones, cameras, headphones, printers, computers, keyboards, and mice. The new standard will be backward compatible to include all currently Wi-Fi certified legacy devices.
Don’t get all cozy with your Bluetooth 2.1 products just yet. There is another standard on the horizon that aims to take over your wireless life. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is touting a report that indicates 23 percent of Bluetooth equipped devices will run the new 3.0+HS standard by late 2010. This is expected to rise to 61 percent by 2011.
Bluetooth 3.0 was adopted on April 21 of this year. The new standard includes support for Alternative MAC/PHY (AMP) transport. AMP allows Bluetooth devices to use the 802.11 protocol for large data transfers. Additional power management technologies are expected to increase reliability as well. Circulation will start with external USB dongles for desktop and notebook PCs very soon.
Microsoft today unveiled what it claims is its thinnest keyboard ever, the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000. As the name suggests, the new plank is aimed exclusively at Bluetooth notebooks and desktop PCs, with Bluetooth-enabled notebooks projected to account for more than 55 percent of all laptops by the end of 2010, Microsoft says.
"The design tenets of compact, clean, and refined really set the state for the success of the keyboard," said Chris Kujawski, industrial designer for Microsoft Hardware. "There is nothing extraneous about the design. We removed everything that didn't fit with those ideas and ended up with something we're really proud of -- a compact, sophisticated keyboard that pairs perfectly with Bluetooth computers."
Measuring "just a few millimeters thicker than a AAA battery at the back," the Bluetooth 6000 sports an ergonomic design with a 6-degree curve, a design Microsoft says is preferred by 94 percent of users who have ever owned a Comfort Curve keyboard.
The Bluetooth plank will be available in October for $90. There will also be a separate Bluetooth Number Pad, which is also be available next month, and priced at $45.
Geeks have to be suckers for Bluetooth headsets. Don’t believe me? I have purchased no fewer than five Bluetooth headsets ranging from Plantronics, to Cardo and Motorola in the last two years.
Among the most disappointing was the Voyager 855. Although it fit my tiny ear canals well, the reliability of it was, well, everything you’ve come to expect of a Bluetooth headset. Sometimes it would connect with my admittedly mediocre Windows Mobile phone and sometimes it wouldn’t.
It didn’t help that the audio levels were just too low. At least the noise cancellation was top notch. Still, I had to chuck it for two Cardo units: The S-640 and the S-800. I had the highest hopes for the S-640 clip-on unit and carded ear piece. Unfortunately, incoming sound quality was dismal and the lack of noise cancellation made conversations in my beater with original struts impossible. Did I mention that it too was quite flakey with the Bluetooth connection. The S-800, however, was quite reliable. It locked onto my phone and worked fine. The volume was also almost painfully loud when set to max. The UI was good and the quick dial feature that let you access the first few slots in your speed dial was awesome.
I only use my headset in my car and turn it off when not in use. Initially I could get a week or two without having to recharge it. That turned into a week and now it seems like it needs to visit the charger every three days.