Get Outta My Head: Google Cast-enabled Speakers

GoogleCast-LGSpeaker_002

Google Cast-enabled Speakers

If you had the opportunity to read about Google’s recent launch of the Chromecast Audio, then you might have some idea of what Google Cast-enable Speakers are.  But if not, then you’re in for a treat. Sony, Denon, and LG have all announced Google Cast-enabled Speakers.

Google announced that several partners have integrated the Google “Chromecast” functionality into a couple of lines of stand-alone speakers.  These speakers, unlike most Bluetooth speakers, operate from a connection to your home Wi-Fi and steam clear, digital audio directly from the Internet.   The Google Cast element allows the user to control that audio stream from Google’s Play server, whether through Play Music, Play Movies, or from a host of other services like Pandora, Spotify, IHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, RDIO, and more.

Although these new speakers are not priced in the same ball-park as the Chromecast Audio itself ($35), they do offer a similar level of audio playback quality that you might expect from a high quality speaker.

LG Electronics

The LG Music Flow speaker series begins with the Music Flow H3.  A fairly small, vertically rectangular box that is slightly taller than a box of facial tissue. Atop the head of the speaker there is a iPod-familiar volume touch interface and a simple On/ Off switch.  As most of your music will be controlled through whatever smartphone or tablet device that you use, there isn’t much need for controls on the speaker itself.

Other devices in the Music Flow line are the H4, H5, and H7 speakers.  A unique feature of the H4 is that it includes a battery making your music more portable around the house.  And if you’re really into the LG line of speakers, adding the Music Flow Sound Bar will allow you to play back the audio from your home theater system.

Sony

The flare one expects from Sony hardware is somewhat diminished in the SRS line of speakers.  But where LG left off, Sony picks up.  The SRSX77 isn’t just a Wi-Fi device, it doubles as a Bluetooth speaker.  And adds all the support of the DLNA, Apple AirPlay, and a ridiculously long 100+ hour battery life.

In similitude to the LG line of speakers, Sony too has a line of speakers ranging in price from slightly more than the LG to a great deal more. You should expect to get solid performance from these speakers for the price, but don’t expect to pay less than $100 for any of them.

Denon

As of yet Denon has not released it’s line of Google Cast enabled speakers.  But we can get a glimpse of what is to come via their website (Press Release).

If You Had All Digital Clocks, You’d Forget About Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time

It’s that “time” again, Daylight Savings Time, that is.  Time to “fall back” to the old time.  Yes, you wouldn’t even know that the time had changed, because your smartphone and tablet, desktop and laptop, atomic clock and Smart TV all set themselves at the exact time change. If the rules were changed yet again, the manufacturers of these devices could easily make a small change OTA to reflect it. And you still wouldn’t notice.

Alas, some of us still have appliances that are not connected.  We have desk clocks and analog wrist watches, wall clocks and grandfather clocks, DVD clocks and clocks in our vehicles, none of which are connected to the internet to update the time.

So take that extra hour and remember to set your non-connected clocks “BACK” an hour at 2 AM after Halloween (Sunday, November 1st).   And consider all those lucky people who don’t have to think about the time change.

 

Smartwatch or Not-so-Smart watch

 

LG Watch Urbane Smartwatch

There are currently two types of Smartwatches available in the world, those that must connect to a phone and those that are independent. The latter is not nearly as common, which would include it’s own data and calling plan, but it is still a possibility.  Maybe most people do not want this stand-alone functionality, but should we want it at all?

The screen on the Smartwatch is quite small, even the Apple Watch isn’t much of a screen. And with the move toward larger screen in Smartphones, it’s a wonder how the world is interested in the tiny face of a Smartwatch.

Calculator WatchI wore a watch as a kid, and I certainly yearned for the possibility of a Maxwell Smart or Dick Tracy wrist-communicator.  I had a calculator watch in middle school and it was pretty chic in the geek circles that I ran in.  But it was a far dream to have the functionality available today in a Smartwatch. Still, I would not conceive of the Smartphone ideal for another decade.

It is my impression that the Smartwatch market is yet just another intrigue of the Tech Industry.  Many of us gave up our watches (myself included) when we purchased our first Apple Smartwatch mobile (cell) phone.  Only those who sought the elegance of jewelry or retained the business formality of the US East Coast, seem seek a clock on the wrist.

This is what I believe has happened in the presentation of the Smartwatch today, that we’re only barely scratching the surface of what can be or rather should be expected from a wrist-worn computer.  Where the Smartphone has become a pocket computer that happens to be able to offer the time and phone calls, it is in fact a pocketable computer. The Smartwatch that is tethered to your Smartphone is little more than a trinket or extension of that pocket computer.  Could it yet be the primary device or are we fooling ourselves into believing that it is anything other than a fancy time-piece?

Samsung Gear S SmartwatchThe Samsung Gear S and the LG Watch Urbane both have WiFi, although the Gear S goes a bit further offering 4G connectivity.  Both can operate at a distance that is greater than the limit of Bluetooth. However, the Gear S can operate at any distance from your phone as it is effectively a phone unto itself. But in being capable of separation from a Smartphone, or run alone, it is itself weak.

As the Smartphone is to it’s functional predecessor the laptop computer, so the Smartwatch is lacking not only in power, but battery-life and ease-of-interface. One automatically reaches the conclusion that the Smartwatch should not and in fact likely is not designed to be a stand-alone device.

Agent Smith SmartwatchIt might appear that someone has replaced the author of Get Outta My Head, with an impostor, by the assertions made in the prior paragraph.  But I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.  I want the Smartwatch to be capable of all that a desktop or laptop, but even the greatest of current technology does not appear to be able to prove such a fantasy.    To quote a famous  character from a science-fiction movie, “Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world.” (Agent Smith, The Matrix)  I agree with Agent Smith in saying that we lack the technical capacity to create a Smartwatch that rivals a laptop or desktop.  And that, for now, we should not try to act like we have one.

The Smartwatch is cool, no doubt, but until an interface comes along that does not require a tiny touch screen, I think that it should remain a watch (with benefits).

 

May the Fourth Be With You

May the Fourth

 

Although not official until around 2007, the phrase “May the Fourth be with you” can be traced back to the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979.  If you’re near Disney’s Hollywood Studios today, you’ll be celebrating the holiday with some exciting events. In any case, have a great Star Wars Day and Feel the Force.