Swivl – The Robot That Follows You as You Make Video Calls

The Swivl Robotic Platform for Video seems very basic at first glance, looking like a typical stand or dock for phones, tablets or other devices. It is far more than that as it includes a sensor on the front of the base and the ability to swivel and angle the docked device as you move around.

This may seem very simple, but as shown in the promotional video, very effectual. Whether you’re making a video call on Skype or Google Hangouts or recording yourself, the Swivl lets you move around freely, as well as direct attention to props nearby. Functioning based the sensor built into the base and a hand-held marker device, the Swivl can even work for groups, with the marker being passed from person-to-person or being held between two people to allow both of them to be in-shot. It even includes a wireless microphone so that audio won’t be lost due to being at a distance from the device. There is also the option to use the Swivl with the Swivl Cloud video hosting service.

Definitely a cool device, the Swivl does seem somewhat niche, branding itself as a tool for teachers and student, although I can see the appeal of using it to watch a video when you’re busy. It isn’t cheap at $395.00 on Amazon and for your money, you’ll get the base device, marker, charger, mounts for mobile devices and a lanyard.

Cool Range of New Thermaltake Components @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015: Chassis, coolers and power supplies are all essential, but there’s so much more you can add to your build to enhance the style and functionality. Thermaltake know this and have revealed a range of cool products for your system. A selection of gorgeous sleeved PSU cables and colourful cable combs to help improve the overall style. There’s also a range of funky hard drive docks, in fact, they’re some of the best docks I’ve seen and now come with USB Type-C connectivity!

Their latest fan controllers look pretty cool too and are an idea match for the latest range of Thermaltake fans. We’ll bring you more information shortly, so stay tuned!

 

Enermax’ New 5.25-Inch Drive Racks Start Selling

Enermax has started to sell a row of new products and among them are the three backplane modules EMK5301, EMK5401 and EMK5501. Enermax has a lot of experience in this area and we’ve also recently checked out several of their other docking solutions from the EMK series in our review section.

The backplane modules EMK5301, EMK5401, and EMK5501 are specially designed for data servers or home built storage systems. The modules occupy two or three 5.25-inch bays and accommodate up to five 3.5-inch hard disk drives with SATA or SAS interface. Due to the high-quality manufacturing and the sturdy aluminium case, the new EMK models are a safe storage for your valuable data.

Each HDD slot is equipped with an individual power switch so you can turn off single drives when needed or only turn on the ones you need. A power switch on each drive is an awesome function to have, I speak from experience there.

Further, they come with an 80mm fan and smart thermal fan control that allows for an effective HDD cooling. Users will be warned by blinking status LEDs and a buzzing sound if the temperature exceeds a critical level (55/60/65°C) and all HDD slots are protected with a security lock against unauthorized access.

Thanks to Enermax for providing us with this information

Essential Road Trip Gadgets: CES 2015

CES 2015 is always an incredible show, bringing many, if not all, of the world’s major technology companies into one place, ready to show off their latest and greatest products. This year was a little different for us here at eTeknix. After the show, we took to the roads to visit San Francisco and Los Angeles. On our trip, we stopped by the offices of Thermaltake, Patriot, Corsair, NZXT and more! A trip like CES is a big undertaking, for me personally it requires a four-hour train journey, a ten-hour flight and we clocked up over 20 hours driving over 1500 miles. All that is before the return journey of another ten-hour flight and another four-hour train journey home. All this traveling is enough to make you tired. Fortunately, there were a few luxuries that helped make the journey just that little bit easier for us; without which, we would have struggled.

LUXA2 Phone Dock

First up we have one of the simplest gadgets of them all, but by far the one that helped us out the most on our journey from Las Vegas to San Francisco, then again on our journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the LUXA2 Mobile Phone Mount.

The car we used, a Ford Mustang, has a cigarette lighter high up on the dashboard, perfect for keeping your Sat Nav or mobile phone charged when mounted in a cradle or dock of some format. Even better is how the LUXA2 mount works, as the mount fits directly into the cigarette lighter, giving you a powered USB port directly from the mount to connect your phone, while also providing a sturdy mount that doesn’t have to stick onto your windscreen, or hang from the air conditioning vents. The mount was universal and proved more than capable of housing our iPhone 6 Plus.

Ultra Short Patriot iPhone Lightning Cable

The only downside with this kind of mount is that the normal iPhone cable trails all over the place. Given the phone mount we had, we found the standard cable got caught on the dashboard controls, wrapped around the gear stick and more; not what I would call ideal. Patriot, perhaps better known for their high-end memory products, also make mobile products and quickly came to our rescue. Their new Lightning USB cable is just 6 inches long, perfect for going from dock to phone. This is the perfect cable to keep in the car and it saves you having to bring your full cable with you.

Nvidia Shield Tablet

Sitting on a plane for hours on end is a tedious and often boring affair. Sure you’ve got some in-flight entertainment (on some flights), but the easiest solution is to bring your own entertainment with you. Bringing your smartphone is one solution, but the small screens aren’t really ideal for watching movies and TV shows, and battery life isn’t always enough for a long haul flight; especially so if you’re gaming on it. The Shield Tablet solves a lot of these problems, not only did the battery life hold up for the full ten-hour flight, it also provided us with a unique experience that made us the envy of other passengers; Playing Mario Kart 64 on an emulator with two controllers was by far the most fun I’ve ever had on a flight! As an added bonus, the Nvidia Shield Cover provided the perfect viewing angle for gaming, watching movies and reading articles during the flight.

MEElectronics Wireless Headphones

No journey would be survivable without my music with me, but when I’m carrying around a heavy backpack full of camera and a laptop equipment, as well as pulling along a 25KG suitcase, the last thing I need is a cable getting wrapped around my neck. I love my wired headphones, but the strap from my backpack pulls them out of my ears and it’s simply impractical unless I’m sitting still. A set of high-quality Bluetooth headphones was the perfect fix and while they were excellent to wear while walking around, leaving my tablet in my backpack to stream my music, I found them to be even better on the long flight. Being able to fall asleep on a plane is no easy task, but a light set of headphones and some music certainly helped block out the engine noise; plus I didn’t have a headphone wire getting tangled up in my arms, so that’s always a bonus. MEElectronics promised a 14-hour battery life, so our 10-hour flight proved to be easy work for them on a single charge.

Inateck BP2001 Wireless Stereo Bluetooth Portable Speaker Review

Introduction


Inateck may not be a common brand name, at least not yet, but they’ve got a great range of low to mid budget products that certainly caught our attention. While many of us love the high-end flagship products, sometimes we just need something affordable, that does the job we need with ease; the Inateck wireless Bluetooth speaker we’re reviewing today is one of those products. It’s got a fairly straight forward job to do and it’s not likely a product you need to put much thought into either. If you need a stand for your tablet, but you also need a wireless speaker to enjoy your music, or hands-free calls in the office, at home or wherever, then you’ll most likely be looking at this device or something similar on a popular shopping site such as Amazon. So just what do you get for your money?

The Inateck Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is a nicely designed unit. It has a hard black speaker grill on the front of its extra wide design, as well as a little bit of silver trim around the edge and around the control switch on the front.

The wide design makes the Inateck ideal for mounting your smartphone or tablet on the top of the speaker. There’s a hard rubber slot that runs the full width of the device for maximum compatibility with a wide range of devices. There’s also a small cut-away in the middle, which makes accessing the home button on tablets such as the iPad a whole lot easier.

There is only one control on the front of the device, which can be used to play or pause music (via Bluetooth), answer or reject calls, or redial the last number on your paired device.

The base of the speaker is wider than the top, giving a little extra stability to the speaker, but it’s not so thick that you couldn’t chuck it in your backpack.

Around the back, you’ll find a fold out speaker bracket and the I/O ports.

There’s a master power switch on the back to help save power, an AUX line-in jack and a DC5V port for charging the built-in battery.

The speaker bracket is very handy, as putting a 10″ tablet on the top of the speaker in portrait mode could make the whole setup prone to tipping; a problem easily solved by deploying the bracket.

Included in the box you will also find a USB to Micro-USB cable, which is perfect for keeping the speaker charged, as well as a 3.5mm cable for connection devices such as MP3 players.

MSI Reveals GS30 Shadow – The Lightest Gaming Notebook in the Market

MSI have just revealed their gorgeous new 13.3 inch gaming notebook; the GS30 Shadow. The new notebook comes equipped with a 4th Gen Core i7 processor and features Iris Pro graphics, an interesting choice for a gaming notebook, but it’ll still support DX11.1, OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.0 and enhanced 4k x 2k.

The main party trick of the GS30 is the weight and size of the system, clocking in at just 1.3kg and 19.8mm thick, meaning that the GS30 is the lightest gaming notebook in the market.

While gaming performance on the Iris might not sound like the best solution for mobile gaming, it’s still got enough power for when you’re out and about. When you’re back at home or in the office, you can use the dedicated desktop dock to boost performance even further. The dock is basically a stand which features a discrete graphics card of your choice. The dock will run the card through the laptop via a full PCI-e x16 interface.

The notebook is expected to launch in January 2015, giving you plenty of time to save up for one. Prices are currently unknown, but we’ll update you as soon as we have more information.

Thank you MSNews for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of MSNews and MobileGeeks.

New DockPort Display Standard Released From VESA

VESA, the Video Electronics Standards Association who are the governing body over the display connectivity standards (the people who write out the rules so-to-speak) have announced that they are expending the DisplayPort standard to allow USB3.1 data and power to be carried over the same cable that video signals are currently run over on the DisplayPort interface. Known as DockPort, the connection is physically the same, much like USB3.0 is with USB2.0, meaning that older DisplayPort only devices will be backwards compatible with DockPort enabled devices. When two DockPort devices are connected together, power and USB3.1 data will run over the cable, reducing the overall number of cables that need to be connected between the source and display.

As DockPort is an extension of an existing standard, it will be offered to current VESA members without any additional licensing fees, meaning that any products that feature the new standard won’t have to incur massive price jumps.

“As computing platforms become increasingly mobile, it becomes necessary to reduce the number of external connectors,” explained Steve Belt, Corporate Vice President – Strategic Alliances & Solutions Enablement AMD, a VESA member company. “With DockPort, VESA has developed a technology standard that enhances elegant docking designs, reduces mobile form factors, and enriches the user experience with streamlined, one-cable access to a wide range of external displays, peripherals and storage.”

Unlike HDMI which can only carry audio and video data, DockPort is set to be the first standard to carry non-video data across a display cable as well as the first standard to allow power to run alongside a video signal without interference. As the new standard begins to roll out, a number of vendors are showing off their latest product at Computex 2014 which is running this week, although there is no word if this standard is ready to hit the shelves just yet.

“The new DockPort standard demonstrates the enormous adaptability of the DisplayPort standard,” according to VESA Board Chair Alan Kobayashi, Fellow & Executive R&D Management for DisplayPort Group at MegaChips Technology America. “On the one hand, DisplayPort is a flexible A/V transport protocol that easily coexists with other protocols, like USB-it plays nicely with others. On the other hand, DisplayPort is also a robust and proven connector design whose electro-mechanical properties can accommodate data and power over a common passive copper cable and interface.”

Source: Press Release

Thermaltake Reveal BlacX Urban Wi-Fi Docking Station

Thermaltake are well known for their high-end chassis and cooling products, and now they look set to entertain us with a rather handy storage product, the new BlacX Urban Wi-Fi Docking Station. The new dock offers users a complete and easy way to access all files stored on a hard drive, and while it works just like any other hard drive dock, in the sense that you plug your drive into the top, it also comes with Wi-Fi integration, so that the BlacX Urban can provide quick access to your data through your personal Smart Phone or Tablet.

Both iOS and Android devices are supported via the “TtCloud” App which can be downloaded via the the App Store or Google Play Store. The BlacX Urban also supports UPnP for seamless device compatibility to allow you to easily enjoy your home theater experience by streaming your media over your network to supported devices.

Built-in Connection over Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

  • This allows easy access to your files, and the ability to share your files seamlessly over the BlacX Urban’s Wi-Fi Network.

App Support for iOS and Android Devices

  • Rather than wait for your computer to convert and import documents – simply transfer your data to the hard drive by downloading the TtCloud App, which is available at the App Store or Google Play Market.

Enhanced File Management

  • The App TtCloud provides wireless portable storage and file sharing for iOS Android devices. Now you can easily share your favorite photos, video clips, music and data with friends on their own devices simultaneously. (Classified in “Photo, Music, Video, My Folder”)

Less Complex, More Handy

  • TtCloud helps you stay connected to the Internet while you access and share your content. Imagine the possibilities you will have to store more information, and use the devices you love with this amazing App!

Safe & Secure

  • Supports Wi-Fi Security Protection WEP/WPA/WPA2 to make your files and data secure from unauthorized use.

Stay Connected

  • Supports Wi-Fi Internet tethering by making it easier to access the Internet while you are connected through your Smart Phone or Tablet.
  • USB 3.0 for SuperSpeed Transfer
  • With the blazing-fast USB 3.0 SuperSpeed data transfer, you can now maximize your transfer rate up to 5.0 Gbps, so get ready to share your data faster!

Having a wi-fi enabled hard drive dock seems like a great idea to me, and I can’t wait to check out how the dock performs, hopefully we’ll have one in for review in the coming weeks.

Thank you Thermaltake for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Thermaltake.

Icy Dock ‘Black Vortex’ MB074SP-B 3.5” 4-in-3 Cage Review

Introduction


Over the last couple of years I’ve reviewed a fair selection of products from the Icy Dock catalogue, ranging from external drive enclosures such as the Blizzard and the MB559U3S SuperSpeed to a variety of SATA backplanes and drive bay adaptors including the FatCage MB155SP-B, MB971SP-B and MB994SP-4SB-1 Quad 2.5″ Backplane. Overall it’s a fair statement to say that they have a wide variety of angles covered and the tastes of many users fulfilled with their products, whether it be through the design or the functional capability. With so many items on offer, we are a little amazed to see that Icy Dock have once again come up with a new product and this time round the product is in principle a cooled multi-bay drive adaptor. Taking up three optical drive bays, the Black Vortex MB074SP-B is able to house four 3.5″ hard drives in an open air frame design, offering a quick and simple access to one or more drives whilst offering the benefit of active cooling through a front mounted 120mm fan.

Aside from a traditional 3.5″ hard drive, the Black Vortex is also compatible with a number of Icy Dock’s own 2.5″ to 3.5″  EZ-Dock and EZ-Adapter product ranges, allowing more than just a hard drive to be installed into the chassis. With so many drive bay adaptors and mounting solutions now available on the market from a number of vendors, the question stands to ask if we have enough options already available to cater every persons need, or does this unit really offer up the functionality that some users are after to mount and keep their drives cool.

Like any other Icy Dock product, the packaging is very informative with plenty of information about the cage on hand; detailing the units specifications, features and design. Inside the box things are a little more concise with a simple user installation guide and two sets of screws for fitting the brackets to each of the four drives and securing the framework into your chassis.

 [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue1hnszk35E[/youtube]

Diamond Unveil Their Latest Connectivity Devices At CES 2014

As we take a look around the various suite and stands at CES, we always want to expand the number of vendors that we work with and this year sees us meeting up with the team at Diamond Multimedia. Now going by just the name alone we would expect Diamond to be showcasing products for the home entertainment market as well as the business sector, however as we find, presumptions such as this should not always be made.

It turns out that Diamond make quite a large number of wireless products as well as various other connectivity devices for the home along with the graphics cards that Pete took a look at during our suite tour.

Wireless range extenders – as I’ve detailed in the past – are one of the easiest ways of filling in any wireless dead spots in the home, especially those which have solid walls as I’ve personally found out. Whilst some range extenders simply do little more than just extend the range of the network coverage, Diamonds wide range of items pack a variety of additional features to add extra functionality and convenience along the way.

The WR300NR range extender as seen to the left in addition to extending a wireless network, also packs in the full functionality of a wireless router with two Ethernet ports on its underside of WAN and LAN connections. For for some users who are always on the go, carrying around a bulky router is simply not practical and this compact unit packs everything into a single unit for convenience and portability.

In addition to wireless range extenders, another way of connecting to locations together in the home is over a powerline network. Since the early days of powerline – where I had little faith in the technology (to be perfectly honest) – the number of vendors offering up powerline kits has expanded considerably, especially as the technology has been refined and made more reliable. Diamond had two powerline kits on show in their suite; the HP500AV which offers up a 500Mbps link speed for a simple point-to-point connection and the HP500WEK (as seen below) which, in addition to the specs of the kit above, also features a wireless range extender to give the benefit of powerline technology to both wired and wireless devices.

The last networking device we see on show stands out from the crowd – not because of its functions, but due to its bright red colour. It’s safe to say that Diamond want this router to stand out from the crowd and whilst it is not available on the market as of yet, the WRD7000 packs all the features that we would expect any wireless router to pack these days, along with two USB3.0 ports for connecting external storage devices or printers to the router for sharing across the network.

Moving along from the network devices and accessories, Diamond also have a host of display adaptors to show off, including a USB to DVI adaptor which easily allows for a secondary display to be connected to the likes of a ultrabook or laptop with a single display output.

Whilst VGA outputs are a rare sight on most desktop systems these days, we still tend to find them cropping up on tv’s and projectors and when we look at the latter – in most cases projectors are mounted to a ceiling and bridging the gap with a cable is not always practical. The ‘WPCTVPRO’ solves this conundrum with a simple two-piece kit that comprises of a wireless enabled VGA adaptor and a USB adaptor for the host device to connect to. Like the USB adaptor above, this adaptor is sutable for virtually any desktop system, whether it has a display output on it or not.

Moving away from display adaptors and back over to network adaptors, I find yet another item that pulls my attention as something a little different. Alongside a USB to Gigabit LAN adaptor, Diamond also have an Ethernet adaptor combined with a SuperSpeed USB3.0 hub giving the benefit of a Gigabit Ethernet port on ultrabooks or systems such as a Macbook Air, but also an additional set of USB ports for connecting cameras, and storage drives to. Like everything else that I’ve seen here from Diamond Multimedia, it is simple yet practical.

The last item that I found in the Diamond suite has certainly stirred my interest. Whilst the concept of a laptop docking station is not new – Dell for example have been providing their own proprietary units for a number of years now – many users today, turn to laptops as their main workstation and by the time we take a secondary monitor, network, and other peripherals into account, the number of cables that we need to connect up becomes quite an inconvenience. Add on the fact that ultrabooks are becoming more and more popular and we also realise that there is not the same range of connectivity options on hand to work with. This is where the DS3900 comes in to play. Through a single USB3.0 connection, this docking station provides four USB2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, HDMI, DVI on the rear and on the front, two USB3.0 ports and dual 3.5mm ports for microphone and headphone connections; all in all, everything that most users will need to get their desk connected – all through a single USB cable. This is something that I’m eager to get in for review and I’ll certainly be contacting Diamond after the show to get a sample arranged.

Stay tuned as we have still more content for you to see from our sweep around the Diamond Multimedia suite and the rest of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Icy Dock FatCage MB155SP-B SATA Backplane Module Review

Introduction


When it comes to drive enclosures, both of the internal and external flavour, there is, generally speaking, one name that always pops to mind and this is Icy Dock. For many years now they have been creating enclosures, mounts and backplanes in a whole heap of varieties – some of which we’d never have thought were useful. The backplane that I’ll be looking at today is just one example of a product that I’d look through their catalogue, see and skip past as it doesn’t immediately jump out to me as a product that needs much attention.

For the vast majority of home users, having a server at home is not something that would really shout out as being needed and on the whole, they are not, but with media streaming and file sharing become more common, some users are making the move to build their own. Naturally the obvious path, rather than buying one, is to build a system from common desktop components, using a mid tower chassis to house everything, but many chassis only offer internal drive bays and there can be few at that. For those that are keen on keeping things backed up or who want easy access to their drives without having to open the case, having a backplane is a simple solution that gives flexibility of access whilst adding additional 3.5″ space.

The MS155SP-B that we’re looking at today is a simple, straight to the point backplane. By simply mounting into the optical drive area, this backplane gives five additional drive bays that can be individually removed from the system in a hot-swap manner with ease.

Anyone that has owned an Icy Dock product of this type or have read my past reviews on some of their products will know that they like to keep the packaging and extras down to a minimum, after all there’s no need for a heap of paperwork, leaflets and other non-vital parts that typically ends up staying in the box.