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Gadget gift guide: CableJive dockBoss air

With CableJive's wireless receiver nearly any gadget can stream audio to a speaker dock designed for 30-pin Apple devices. Android? Windows? Tablets? The dockBoss air adapter works with all devices that support Bluetooth AD2P which is about any smartphone, tablet or computer these days. Thanks to a 30-feet wireless range, you can free your gadget from your dock and stream audio while relaxing on the sofa, toiling in the kitchen, or even in the car. CableJive dockBoss air: $34.95
 

Review: Speck iPhone 5 cases

The iPhone 5 is another hot seller and it is big news for accessory manufacturers.

This is especially good news for case makers since about 78 percent of iPhone owners buy cases.

Speck smartphone cases are among the most popular and with good reason.

Speck applies the same basic design to its line which includes not just stylish cases, but also one with a folding kickstand and a cardholder. All have a hard plastic structure that surrounds the screen with a minimal, but effective bezel to help prevent facedown scratches - or worse.

Live TV on your mobile with Slingbox

Sling Media recently unveiled two new version of its TV streaming devices that let you watch TV from pretty much anywhere on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

The Slingbox 500 and Slingbox 350 bridge your set-top box or DVR to the Internet so you can view your media. Both are capable of 1080p.

The lower cost Slingbox 350 connects via Ethernet and composite video cable. It is priced around $180. The $300 Slingbox 500 adds Wi-Fi and HDMI connectivity.

I'm testing these on the iPhone, iPad and my Android tablet. In addition to those, Slingbox supports Windows Phone and the Kindle Fire.  The requisite SlingPlayer app costs $14.99.

I'd love to hear your experiences with Slingbox.

Google creates coolest way to explore music

Google is not where most music lovers go to discover new content, but the search giant's recent update to its Play Store could change that.

It doesn't appear to be available to every Android user yet. It is working on my Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.1.2, but hopefully Google will provide this to smartphones. If Google want to get serious about selling music it needs to expand this to devices outside the the Android ecosystem.   

DroidLife.com posted a short video that shows it pretty well.

Google challenges Siri with revamped iOS app

The Google Search App for iOS got a recent update adding impressive voice capability. As with Siri you can ask for the weather, scores, and directions. Though it lacks the integration of Siri, Google has outmaneuvered Apple in a couple of ways.

Naturally folks want to know how Google's new effort, free at the App Store, compares to Siri. What may be Google's biggest trump is that its voice app works with iPhones that Apple hasn't endowed with Siri - like the iPhone 4.

In use the app's voice recognition seems every bit as good as Siri. Voice requests appear on the screen as you speak. You can watch it instantly analyze your voice working through potential words in real time. Google's revamped app churns out search results at least as quickly as Siri and can read them back to you.

Like knowing what is with the weather? Google offers more informative weather results that include the chance of precipitation, humidity, and wind speed - all of which are MIA with Siri and Apple's iOS weather app.

Apple's weather information may be lacking, but Siri's sports reports tops its rival with by the quarter results and its slick looking box score graphics.

When I requested a restaurant, each produced a similar list of eateries. Siri's list was longer and it included the nearest Meals On Wheels location. I'm not sure if this good or bad.

Google's app is also a launcher of sort for its apps, but there is no voice integration with them. You can't open Gmail or Google calendar. You will not be able to say "email my wife" as in Siri. Hopefully that will come.

If you have an iPhone lacking Siri then Google's Search App is a must try. Even of you have Siri, the new Google Search App is worth a look.

Motorola Bluetooth Smart Controller: the Android remote control you didn't know you needed

Don't be so quick to dismiss a remote control for a smartphone or tablet as an absurdity. Sure not long ago it would have made as much sense as a bottomless bucket. But with HDMI support and more powerful processors, mobile devices are capable media streaming devices. When you're lounging on the sofa streaming video or music the Motorola Smart Controller makes more sense.

Motorola's Bluetooth controller offers a multitouch touchpad and a row of Android hardware buttons. It is also a Bluetooth handset that take calls remotely which is also handy for when your device is charging.

Slightly smaller than an iPhone, the remote's touchpad takes up roughly 40 percent of the surface area. The dedicated Android buttons are anchored below. A volume rocker and mute button are mounted on the left. The call button is nestled in the center of its underside.

The design may be understated, but attractive. The build quality appears to be quite high.

In use, the touchpad was accurate though I wish the tracking speed could be adjusted. Motorola says the range is up to 30 feet, but that will vary depending on the environment.

The Motorola Smart Controller is compatible with more than just Motorola devices. I was able connect easily to my Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 running Android 3.2. However, I could not connect to my Nexus 7 running Android 4.1.2. There is a list of compatible devices.

Verizon offers the Motorola Smart Controller for $99.99.

 

1351181121 Motorola Bluetooth Smart Controller: the Android remote control you didn't know you needed The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Smartphones great for sharing — germs too

The mobile revolution has made smartphones ideal for sharing the latest status updates, photos, and apparently our germs as well. Working with a lab, the Wall Street Journal tested a batch of smartphones for bacteria. The results are alarming.

Mobile users grow wary over apps requesting private info

Have you ever spurned an app because of privacy concerns? You are not alone.

Verizon Wireless tops J.D. Power rankings

J.D. Power and Associates released its latest network quality study Thursday. Verizon Wireless topped the firm's rankings in five out six national regions including the Southeast. U.S. Cellular was ranked highest in the North Central region.

The study surveyed 27,000 customers regarding voice, text messaging and data usage.
 

T-Mobile announces 4G data plan with no caps or throttling

The nation's fourth largest wireless carrier, T-Mobile has announced a new 4G data plan that ditches caps and throttling which have drawn criticism from consumers.

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