Sorting through the mesh wireless systems available today can be tricky. Read on, and we’ll teach you how to decide which one is best for you. [Update: Anti-malware is a theme of this update, with Plume SuperPods, Orbi, and Linksys Velop all joining the club with solid offerings in this regard. eero and Plume both solved their LAN persistence problems, keeping your Wi-Fi alive even if your Internet connection goes down. AmpliFi is doing some cool things for IoT users with regards to setting up separate SSIDs for that, too. See Changelog – Dave]
Recent Articles By Dave Hamilton [RSS]
Late last year, Alexa gained the ability to control Apple Music. At that point, only Amazon-branded devices would work. As of today, April 17th, 2019, Alexa on your Sonos One or Sonos Beam can now control Apple Music. You can also use any Echo device to control your connected Sonos system. We’ll show you how!
Earlier this week many folks began experiencing an issue where macOS Mojave 10.14.4 could not properly log in to some Gmail-based accounts, mostly those using G-Suite for custom domains. The good news is that, as of late last night, this problem appears to have been eradicated.
CLEAR, the company whose members we all enviously gaze upon at the airport as they breeze past those of us in the TSA Pre-Check lines, is expanding their identity verification technology to point of sale. Testing in some Seattle sports stadiums, CLEAR’s ability to use biometrics to confirm that you are definitively you is helpful for age verification for alcohol sales, but could also just make point of sale simpler, in general. Part of their mission all along, they figured if they could get approval for their tech to be used to confirm identity at airports, it was certainly going to work to add convenience to point-of-sale while also increasing the security of the transactions. Of course, Apple’s introduction Touch ID at point of sale with Apple Pay starting in 2014 has helped the masses understand the usefulness of this technology. That rising tide lifts all boats, including CLEAR’s. Look for CLEAR to roll out more instances of this tech in the coming year.
On Sunday at the SXSW Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase, Wi-Charge was showing off their infrared-based wireless power technology. They’re not the only company aiming to deliver wireless power to our devices, but they are the first we’ve seen to use infrared (IR) to do it. Using IR comes with a couple of advantages: power doesn’t degrade over distance, a thin beam can be aimed at the device to ensure full power, and IR is something we’ve found to be extremely safe. Of course, the major downside to using IR is that it only delivers over line-of-sight. Their demo at SXSW was delivering a full 1 watt of usable power, but they say their tech could eventually deliver “several watts” of power up to 15 feet away. Wi-Charge was demoing their tech with LED strip lights, an electric train, and a custom-case for an Amazon Echo Dot, all of which could be powered from an overhead IR transmitter. For your IoT devices or even your phone at your desk, this could someday offer a ton of convenience. Wi-Charge is seeking integration partners to help bring their tech to market.
JBL unveiled the Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker at CES this week, with some notable enhancements over the Flip 4. The most visually-obvious thing they’ve done is moved to a waterproof USB-C connector for charging, eschewing the rubber cover that protected its predecessor’s micro-USB port. This means the Flip 5 is fully submergible without having to first check to ensure the waterproof charge cover is in place. Additionally, JBL has remodeled the acoustic design, now using a racetrack-shaped driver that should increase the speaker’s bass response. Battery life is also increased to a full 12-hours of playtime. The JBL Flip 5 will be available this spring for US$99.95.
Please join me in giving a huge round of thanks to Other World Computing for being on board with us again and helping to sponsor TMO’s CES 2019 coverage. Making the trek out to – and around! – Las Vegas each year to cover CES for you all is no small feat (and that’s not to mention how our feet feel after walking Vegas!). The costs associated with it all are large, and with sponsors like OWC helping to support that we’re able to take our time and mine CES for just the stuff you want to learn about.
Scosche’s CES booth was again full of great new devices for managing your devices in both your home and car, and the highlight to us was their new BaseLynx modular wireless charging station. Available modules include a Qi fast-charge dock, an Apple Watch dock, powered end-cap, and a vertical power station which holds three wired devices. The end-cap has a 12V USB-A and 18W USB-C PD outlet, and the power station has that plus a second USB-A port. You can mix-and-match modules to serve your needs – including just using one if you like – and BaseLynx is engineered to prevent over- or under-voltage, surging, and overheating. Pricing has not yet been announced, and BaseLynx is due to be available this coming spring.
At their CES booth, Satetchi was showing off their latest: the Satechi Aluminum Stand for iMac. Priced at $89.99 and available in Space Grey or Silver, this combination stand and dock provides three USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a USB-C data port, micro/SD card slots, and an audio jack, all conveniently-placed on the front of the stand. Capable of supporting up to 50lbs, the stand can easily support the weight of any iMac and most displays, and would also fit a Mac Mini quite well, too. The Satechi Stand for iMac is built with a USB-C connector on the cable to the computer, but also comes with a USB-A to USB-C adapter for use with any existing iMac. It’s a sharp way to free up some space on your desk while adding a few easy-access ports on the front.
At CES this week TiVo announced and was demoing an in-progress build of their upcoming Apple TV app. Once launched, the app essentially makes your Apple TV a TiVo Mini, allowing you to stream content from your existing TiVo box throughout the house. In our demo things worked quite smoothly, and the app seemed to be pretty far along in its progress. Both live TV and pre-recorded shows are available, making for a seamless experience moving from room-to-room without having to add more TiVo Mini boxes. TiVo’s Apple TV app is due later this year, along with similar apps for Roku and Amazon Fire Stick. All three will be available free-of-charge.
One of the coolest things I found at CES this year was Ultrahaptics technology, allowing for gesture control and haptic feedback using only ultrasound. Touching nothing, I was able to control and manipulate an on-screen “object”, and even feel it all through the magic of ultrasound waves. They also had a demo using their tech that tracks your face and eyes to project and focus a 3D image without the need for any glasses. I talked a bit about it on the show floor:
Every year at CES one of my favorite things is to visit the Central Hall to see all the new TV technology. This year LG again won my vote for most impressive display (no pun intended!) with its array of curved OLED screens. Showing a rotating series of nature videos, this array of curved displays was both immersive and astounding. The video doesn’t do it justice, of course, but it’s worth a quick look just to get an idea of what the future looks like. Enjoy!
At CES Wednesday, QDOS was showing off Infinity Glass, a case unlike any I’ve ever seen: both the front and the back are made entirely of tempered glass, and the two halves fit together with magnets to completely encase your iPhone. The case snaps on quickly and without any alignment required, and the metal edging fits perfectly together around your phone. Once on your iPhone, the seams between the two halves disappear, and everything feels smooth and silky, just as you’d expect from tempered glass. QDOS Infinity Glass cases are priced at $49.99 and are available for all current iPhones.
At CES 2019 on Wednesday, Hyper was showing off the new version of their AirPods charging case. Due to be made available imminently, the case completely encompasses your current AirPods charging case, and contains a Lightning connector in the bottom. Simply place your existing AirPods charger inside the Hyper case and lay that down on a Qi pad (or mat, like the one coming in Q2 shown in the picture here) and, boom, your AirPods wirelessly charge. Retail price is said to be just US$20.
It is my pleasure to welcome and thank Bombich Software and Carbon Copy Cloner for coming on board to help sponsor our CES 2019 content here at TMO this week. As most of you know, Carbon Copy Cloner’s main task is backing up your data in a way that’s easy to restore, recover, and even boot from. But CCC does so much more than that. Read on and learn.
Knowing where your stuff was last seen can be handy… or frustrating, depending upon where it is versus where you are. Adero takes that to the next level by making sure that you don’t forget your stuff in the first place. Shown off at the CES Pepcom event, Adero’s Bluetooth-based Smart Tags work similarly to what you’ve seen from Tile or Trackr, syncing with your phone and letting you know where your stuff is. The differentiator is Adero’s smaller Taglets which attach to the contents of your backpack or purse. Sure you know to grab your backpack, but wouldn’t it be great to know that your bag contains the key items you need, like charger, AirPods, and glasses? Simply put a taglet onto each of those three items, and the Smart Tag on your bag will tell you if anything’s missing, either via a red/green LED or via alert to your smartphone. Adero will help you find your stuff if you’ve left it behind, too, but with their tech the idea is that you won’t leave it behind in the first place. US$119 gets you an Adero starter kit with 3 Smart Tags and 3 Taglets.
Netgear took the opportunity Monday at the CES Pepcom event to show off its latest dual-band router, the Nighthawk AX12. Billed as a 12-stream router, this device includes some significant Wi-Fi enhancements over its predecessors. First, of course, is support for 802.11ax, a.k.a. Wi-Fi 6. This operates over the same 5GHz band as Wi-Fi 5 (a.k.a. 802.11ac), but uses OFDMA signaling to fit more bandwidth into the spectrum. Full utilization will require Wi-Fi 6-compatible clients, and nothing from Apple currently supports that. However, this 5GHz radio also supports Wi-Fi 5, and has a couple of benefits: first, with 8 streams for that antenna your chances of getting connected to the best streams double over even the top-end routers out there. Second, the Nighthawk AX includes the very latest Wi-Fi chipset which now truly supports full, 160MHz connections, delivering real-world speed and range increases to existing Wi-Fi 5 devices. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but we expect it to be north of $400. Interested users can sign up to learn more through NETGEAR’s upcoming Premier Beta program.
On Monday at the CES Pepcom event, Twelve South was showing off the latest result of their creative efforts: the PowerPic. As co-founder and creative director, Andrew Green, puts it, “wireless charging is supposed to be invisible.” PowerPic achieves this mandate by hiding a charging coil inside a standard 5×7 picture frame. By day (or by night, whenever you’re not charging) the PowerPic holds a photo of your favorite memory (or person, or even pet!). When you need to charge, just place your phone inside the frame and boom, the coil fires up and your phone starts sipping juice invisibly through your family ski photo. PowerPic retails for $79.99 and delivers up to 10W of wireless power to most smartphones that feature Qi charging, including everything currently available from Apple.
Our sincere thanks to TextExpander from Smile for helping support us as a sponsor for TMO’s CES 2019 coverage. The effort, planning, and expense it takes to comb through all the noise at CES and bring you targeted, relevant coverage is quite large, and without our sponsors we wouldn’t be able to do it all for you. The good folks at Smile see the value in this and were very quick to jump on board to ensure that you would get the very best of what we have to offer this year. We’re very thankful for that, and we hope you are, too.
The beauty of our new USB-C docking station world (don’t say dongles!) is the flexibility and expandability it provides for our Macs. Targus highlights this perfectly with their new USB-C Universal Quad HD Docking Station that they were showing off Sunday at CES Unveiled. In addition to four USB 3.0 ports, an audio in/out port, and a USB-C port with 15W of power, this dock includes four (yes, 4!) HDMI ports, each connectable to a 1080p display. MacOS sees each of these connected displays individually, meaning you could just as easily have four separate screens for your day-trading delights as you could build a multi-screen video “wall” and spread your image across all four of them simultaneously. At US$275 this is a no-brainer if you need those kind of display options. A unit supporting four 4K screens will be out later this year, due to be priced at US$375.