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Sennheiser CXC 700 Noise Reducing Earbuds

Sennheiser CXC 700 Noise Reducing Earbuds

The Sennheiser CXC 700 is a compact, high quality ear bud with 3 NoiseGard/digital modes to cancel high, medium and low frequency noise.  The mid-cord control unit is used to set the volume, the specific NoiseGard mode, and to activate the TalkThrough function which allows conversation without removing the earbuds.  The control unit also contains a single AAA battery to power the NoiseGard and Talk Through functions. Without this battery, the CXC 700 will still play your audio.  It has a 4.5 foot long cord and comes with an in-flight adapter, a 1/4″  stereo plug adapter, a cleaning tool, diaphragm protector and carrying case.  Suggested retail price is $319.95 with availability in early 2011.
www.sennheiserusa.com

Xi3_Computer

Xi3 Modular Computer

The Xi3 Modular Computer measures less than 4 inches tall and deep but packs a 64 bit dual core processor,  RAM, SSD hard drive, USB and other connector ports on 3 removable boards.  The extruded aluminum sides lock together and also mate with a variety of mounting plates and clips.  Power consumption is very low – under 20 watts.  Low energy consumption also means low heat generation and cool running.  The end covers on the Xi3 are perforated so air just flows right through – making the Xi3 cooler still.  Suggested retail price is $849 with a market release date of early 2011.  www.Xi3.org

CES 2011

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The Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas later this week and the GearDb staff will be there searching out compelling new products and services for both initial mentions and also for actual usage testing.  We’ll then post in-depth reports of our findings here on GearDb.com.   Happy New Year!

Rover 4G WIFI Hotspot

Rover 4G WIFI Hotspot

Here are exterior and interior pictures of the new Rover Puck 4G mobile WiFi hotspot from Clear Wireless.  The Rover Puck can connect up to 8 WiFi laptops or smartphones to the internet.  How fast is it?  Well the Clear Wireless Rover 4G service is based on the WiMax protocol and can do up to 1 Mbps upload and 3 – 6 Mbps (million bits per second) download.  If you don’t know what a Mbps is, then just think of the Rover being about as fast as a pretty good home broadband connection – yes, this means you can watch video.

How well does it work in real life? Well 4G is very new – it rolled out this Summer and even in major markets, coverage is still being improved and expanded.  I tried out a Puck in Las Vegas and when I was able to get a 3 or 4 (max) bar signal things were great.  However, when moving at highway speeds things weren’t as consistent.  I am told that when moving at “high speed” the connection quality can fall to 1/10 of stationary levels.

In my empirical testing, I’d be watching a video (somebody else was driving!) and then after certain turns or bumps the video would stop.  I also tried the Puck while walking around and it performed about about the same as when stationary.  When walking around tall buildings I did find a few “dead” spots just a few feet wide in some of these urban valleys.

Clearwire is offering the first 2 days of service for free so if you get it I’d suggest you test out your most likely spots and routes right away.  I really like that there is no service contract with Rover – you buy the Puck ($149) or the USB single connection Stick ($99) and then pay $5/day, $20/week or $50/month for the service.

There are just 2 buttons on the Puck, an on/off switch and a signal strength button.  There’s a USB mini connection to power and recharge.  Battery life is about 3-4 hours depending on intensity of usage.  My Puck ran pretty warm when it was plugged into USB power and not in an air conditioned space.  It came complete with a USB power/recharge cable, AC to USB adapter, 12 volt cigarette lighter to USB adapter and a nice “rover” sticker.  There is no external antenna connection.  More information about the Rover service, coverage area and devices at Rover.com

Biffy Bag - Now you can go on the go!

No, you’re not looking at a drawing of some sort of exotic Tropical island beachwear – aka sarong or lava lava.  Instead you are looking at the future of mobile human waste collection.  How about them horse apples?

Basically the Biffy Bag is a specially designed plastic bag that wraps around your waist and also channels your waste (#1 & #2) into a central pouch which contains a substance that solidifies liquids, enhances the natural decomposition process and neutralizes odor.   I’ve completely “evaluated” the Biffy Bag and let’s just say it’s rather forgiving of poor “aim” so just point “it” in a roughly Southern direction and let gravity take its course.  Ladies it’s a breeze – pack 2 in your purse, one to share and one just for you. Repeat after me “Sorry that was my last one – those leaves don’t look like poison ivy – go there.”

So can you do the Biffy in a moving vehicle and still stay spiffy?  I’d say yes, especially if you’ve Biffy’d before and the vehicle isn’t too crowded.  I imagine some rough humor could result if your driver suddenly takes evasive maneuvers – “Iceberg dead ahead!” or “Crazy Ivan”.   Hey what are friends truly for?

After the dirty deed is done, “everything” folds up into an opaque sealable pouch and yes toilet tissue and a nicely-sized moist towelette are included.  American ingenuity and innovation still live and a fine example awaits you at  BiffyBag.com.  They ship worldwide because we are one planet, one people, one log and “Let’s get together and feel all right.”

www.BiffyBag.com

Relief Pod Extreme Storage

Relief Pod Extreme Storage

The Relief Pod is a multi-purpose container primarily intended for professional disaster response efforts. It is a rigid polymer shell roughly the length and width of a stretcher and a bit over a foot high.  (87″ x 29″ x 14″ or  221 x 74 x  36 cm)   They state that you can store 6 days worth of emergency supplies for 12 people in one Relief Pod.

It has padded aluminum carrying poles that run the entire length but also retract flush at each end.  There are multiple molded hand grab/lash down openings around the edges.  It has wheels on one end so it can also be moved about like a wheelbarrow.   The top surface is padded with closed cell foam for use as a bench, cot or stretcher and there are 4 webbing straps to secure either the patient or to lash down other items.  There is a mesh panel pocket on one end for quick access to small items.

You open and close the Relief Pod with wing turn latches and end up with 2 ~44 inch long halves.   By using this geometry, the Relief Pod is much more rigid and less likely to leak.   In fact, there is a gasket at that seam as well as a pressure equalization valve so you can open it should the pressure drop inside.   It also has a water valve at one end so you can use it as a water storage container

And yes, it floats.  On ReliefPod.com there are pictures of several Relief Pods (RP) tied together and used as a raft.   An empty RP weighs about 70 pounds (32kg) and has about 1000 pounds (450kg) of buoyancy.  Be warned – should you use the RP as a camp bed near a body of water, your mates may prank you by carrying you upon the RP down to the water and setting you adrift.   If this were the movies, you’d awake in the middle of a beautiful lake and then tip over and awake with a huge splash.  So chain it to an immovable object before going beddy bye or risk going on a 3 hour tour.  By illogical extension, how about grabbing a paddle and racing your RP?  Shoot the rapids?  Catch some tasty waves? Take on Niagara Falls?  Sled down Everest?

Seriously though, picture this – 2 RP halves, stocked with camping or emergency supplies and stacked on top of each other in your garage.  (Full RPs also nest/stack)   When you need that smaller version of your stuff, you load the RPs and Thunderbirds are Go.  If you need more than one, be informed that RPs come in different colors and you can stack assembled RPs 4 high. A promising accessory in development are rigid end cover panels so you can seal each half of an RP when they are not latched together.

Relief Pod also have a variety of compact safety/survival kits.  They are very well thought out, organized in color-coded sections and are packed in stylish pouches, satchels or backpacks.  Some are optimized for comfort or urban situations.  Others are for emergencies with more first aid and survival items and fewer toiletries.

Some even have packets of “lifeboat” water and rations.  A few decades ago I tried some “lifeboat ration” and it looked like a dense brick of oatmeal/granola soaked in molasses. I guess if you have nothing else even raw seagull aka  “Haggis of the Sea” would be yummy.  Well modern technology and the Mainstay company have brought us a life boat ration that closely resembles tasty Danish Butter or Shortbread cookie in taste, texture and color but with impressive warm temperature shelf life. And that’s what the RP kits have so hey nonny nonny see Haggis jerky no more.   You can see many more product details and specs, including several videos, on ReliefPod.com.

Otterbox for iPhone

Otterbox makes a wide range of protective cases.  Many are seriously watertight.  They also have a broad line of cases for smartphones and other compact electronic devices.  Let’s start off with the black and yellow Defender iPhone case from Otterbox.com.  The design, fit and finish are excellent. Your iPhone 3G/Gs will be ruggedly armored, yet you’ll still have crisp response on your controls. It includes a thin rigid clear panel over your LCD yet your finger actions are still accurately received.

A 2 piece rigid plastic inner case snaps around the iPhone then the rubber outer layer is pulled into place.  I found the balance of grip & slip to be just right – it feels secure in my hand but slips easily into a pocket without the stickiness of some silicone cases. And it comes with a belt clip holster.  The belt clip rotates with detents so you can wear it in portrait, landscape or angles in between.  The holster also is a desktop stand – just rotate the belt clip for the angle you want – you may want to put the belt clip in the locked open mode.  When you snap the iPhone LCD facing inward on the holster it’s really locked in there, the LCD is covered/not visible and well protected.  If holstered with the LCD facing outward, a moderate jolt or bounce can dislodge it.  They sell the belt clips separately as well so you can easily get an extra one to modify and hard mount.

The earphone port, docking connector, and ringer switch are protected with attached, press in place/swing away rubber covers.  Mind you while the Defender will protect against misting & spray, it will not protect against heavy rain or immersion.

Also pictured is the blue Otterbox 2000 clamshell case which can hold 1 Defender or Commuter encased phone or 2 “naked” iPhones and is rated to 100 feet submersion.  The Otterbox 8000 and 9000 (not pictured) are swing top cases (100 ft rated) with belt clips (removable) and cord lanyards and can hold 2 Defender phones.  The hinge pin is 316 stainless steel and the inside of the opaque versions have a thin plastic foam lining. The clear version is unlined. Otterbox makes 4 other cases for Iphone including the waterproof  2600 and many other rugged cases big and small.   Well-named and well done Otterbox.

www.otterbox.com

The AR Drone by Parrot

Ah, the AR Drone by Parrot.com.  It is a helicopter with 4 rotor blades that you control with an iPhone.  But wait, there’s more!  It has 2 onboard cameras – a front facing VGA and a lower res downward one.  You can see the VGA video on your IPhone and play augmented reality games, including dogfighting another AR Drone.  So cool!

Here’s a few other ideas – what if you are stuck in a horrible traffic jam and can’t see what the problem is? Which side of the roadway is the obstacle?  Is the jam a short one or does it stretch for miles? Or what if you are offroad and wish you could have a birds eye view from about 150 feet up?  Well if you had an AR Drone on board you’d be golden.  Battery life is about 15 minutes and max range is about 50 meters.  If you are a software programmer, the AR Drone has an open development SDK so you can do more “not as yet imagined” fun stuff.

Parrot also makes car audio and handsfree Bluetooth cell phone devices as well as bespoke home WiFi audio components and digital picture display frames.   www.parrot.com

Yurbuds Premium Earbuds

Yurbuds have a clever way of keeping earbuds – those small earphones that fit in your ear – securely in place with no external hooks, hoops, or loops while you bounce or jounce about. They offer you a range of different-sized soft rubber tips/covers that fit in your ear canal and keep the buds from falling out. To figure out which size tip fits you best, you hold a coin below your ear, take a digital photo and either email it in to Yurtopia or use their free Iphone app. Then you’ll know which size to order.

If you’re not driving, then plug in both ears and crank the volume up. But if you’re the driver or walking about near a busy street, you should keep one ear unplugged and open for situational awareness!

Oh yeah, if you use these as much as I do, skin oil will eventually collect on the Yurbuds, wick in between the rubber covers and the rigid earbud housing and make things slippery. I almost lost a Yurbud! When you get this buildup, wash the rubber covers in soapy water and also wipe off the rigid earbud housings. Good as new baby!

www.yurbuds.com