The Mac Observer's CES 2017 coverage sponsored by:

  • iMazing
  • The Omni Group
  • Merlin Project
  • MacPaw
  • Elgato

Blue Microphones Launches Sadie Headphones, Ella Headphones with Planar Speakers

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LAS VEGAS – Blue Microphones announced two new high-end headphones at CES, Sadie and Ella. Sadie is essentially the next iteration of the company’s Mo-Fi headphones that I like so much. Sadie dumps the tension controls in the top band to make them lighter, and the company lightened and tightened other physical elements of the design, too. The company told me the sound profile has been tweaked, too, but until I can test them out, I won’t offer any judgement. Sadie is priced at $399.99. Ella features planar magnetic speakers, but Blue says they’ve been tuned to deliver both the detail inherent to planar magnetic speakers and the kind of impact you get from dynamic drivers. Ella also features the swing arm and hinged band that makes the Mo-Fi (and Sadie) headphones such a pleasure to wear. Ella is priced at $699.99. I’ll be covering these headphones in more detail when I review them. In the photo below, Ella is in the foreground, while Sadie is in the background.

Blue Microphones Launches Sadie Headphones, Ella Headphones with Planar Speakers

Speck's Presidio CLEAR for MacBook Pro Has 4-Feet Drop Protection

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LAS VEGAS – Speck announced a new case for MacBook Pro (13-inch) that features 4-feet drop protection. Considering the lack of a MagSafe connector for charging on Apple’s new MacBook Pro models, drop protection may be on the minds of lots of folks. Speck said the case is made from its Impactium Clear material originally used for iPhone cases. As the name suggests, Presidio CLEAR is see-through, and it has a “no-slip grip” feel to it. It ships in later in the first quarter of 2017 and is priced at US$99.95—it hasn’t yet been added to the Speck website. I’ve never been a fan of cases on MacBooks, but drop protection? Come on, that’s cool.

Speck’s Presidio CLEAR for MacBook Pro Has 4-Feet Drop Protection

iDevices Introduces HomeKit Wall Switch, Wall Dimmer, Wall Outlet

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LAS VEGAS – iDevices introduced Wall Switch, Wall Dimmer, and Wall Outlet at CES. These Wi-Fi-enabled devices support Apple’s HomeKit, as well as Amazon Echo. They don’t need a hub, and company reps told me they meet all of Apple’s and Amazon’s security (and other) requirements. Folks looking to build a HomeKit-specific smarthome should take a good look at these devices.

iDevices Introduces HomeKit Wall Switch, Wall Dimmer, Wall Outlet

Track Your BAC With This Wearable Alcohol Monitor for Apple Watch

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Need to drive or operate heavy machinery? BACtrack, a company specializing in breathalyzers, wants to make sure you know when you’ve hit your limit. Introduced at CES and shipping later this year, the BACtrack Skyn is a strap that attaches to your Apple Watch band and provides real-time feedback of your blood alcohol content. Users can monitor the loss of their sobriety on demand, or configure the device to vibrate when you’re nearing the legal limit, allowing you to gracefully pass on that third glass of Champagne without causing a scene. BACtrack also hopes that the device’s real-time monitoring capabilities will present new opportunities for the research and treatment of alcoholism.

Track Your BAC With This Wearable Alcohol Monitor for Apple Watch

Kyon Tracker, a Smart Dog Collar that Seems Pretty Smart

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LAS VEGAS – I’ve seen a lot of pet tracking devices over the years, but haven’t taken any of them very seriously, but I’m giving Kyon a definite look. Here’s the quick and dirty, starting with the fact that it works with a hub. You set up a 300 foot geofence with that hub, and inside the fence, the tracker collar communicates via Bluetooth. Outside the fence, Kyon Tracker’s built-in SIM activates and you can track your dog via cellular networks. And of course, it talks to a smartphone app. It does some other smart things, like having a built-in LED display for simple messages. Like, “Hi, I’m lost.” Or the dog’s name. But it also has 12 sensors that measure things like temperature, and the collar can then tell you, “I’m hot,” or “I’m cold.” There’s a water-sensing sensor. You can also have it emit a dog-only frequency when your dog barks. It’s thin, the battery lasts for 30 days, and it’s priced at $249 and shipping later this year.

Kyon Tracker, a Smart Dog Collar that Seems Pretty Smart

California Roll Bluetooth Speaker - Solar Powered, Water Proof

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LAS VEGAS – I don’t often talk about Bluetooth speakers, but Lemon Tech caught my eye with its California Roll during Tuesday night’s CES Unveiled. That’s because it’s solar powered. It has a 5,000mAh battery in it and 32 solar cells on the back. 7 hours of sunlight will get about 20 hours of playback time. That’s handy, but it also has a USB port on it so you can use that battery to charge your mobile devices. And while you’re charging your mobile devices, it will be recharging the battery if it’s getting light. Right? So, rock on. Plus, it’s water and dust proof, making it suitable for the beach and other messy environments. It’s $249, and it ships in March. There’s a coupon code for 20% off (“5W20”), making it just under $200. It’s available in many different colors.

California Roll Bluetooth Speaker – Solar Powered, Water Proof

The Incipio OX Case Brings the Headphone Jack Back to the iPhone 7

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Still need to use analog headphones with your iPhone 7? Ditch that puny little adapter and kill two birds with one polycarbonate stone with the Incipio OX case, an iPhone case that brings the 3.5mm headphone jack back to your favorite smartphone. The OX looks like a normal slim hardshell case, except for a bit of extra length at the bottom. There, you’ll find both a Lightning and 3.5mm audio jack, powered by an internal DAC. The Incipio OX will be available for both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in the first quarter of 2017 in Black, Forest, and Purple color options starting at $59.99.

The Incipio OX Case Brings the Headphone Jack Back to the iPhone 7

This Adorable Home Robot Totally Won't Murder Your Entire Family

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Our homes have voice-controlled assistants like the Amazon Echo, self-navigating devices like the Roomba, and networked monitoring devices like the Nest Cam. Why not combine all of this tech into an adorable home robot companion? Mayfield Robotics has announced Kuri, the home robot that will navigate around your house, respond with voice and body language, answer your questions, manage your home via IFTTT support, and monitor your children or pets with a built-in 1080p camera. Kuri isn’t the first home robot design, but at just $699, it’s the first to be priced within the reach of many consumers. What could possibly go wrong?

This Adorable Home Robot Totally Won’t Murder Your Entire Family

Video: A Look Around Inside CES Unveiled 2017

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As a reader of TMO and a listener of our podcasts, especially Mac Geek Gab, you see and hear us write and talk a lot about the various press events we attend. Many of these – Pepcom, ShowStoppers, and CES Unveiled – are very similar in nature. They’re like a trade show, with a few key differences. First, every vendor has basically the same-sized table at which to present their offerings. There are no big booths and no overly-flashy signs or anything of the sort. Everyone’s logos are well-presented, but mostly its about the products. The reason for this is the second key differentiator: all of the attendees are members of the media. There are no distributors there, no general consumers looking around, no aimless tire-kickers. Everyone is there to report about what they see. And, as you know, that’s what we do. With one exceptIon: we’ve never reported about what we see in general. We always show you specific things, but have never intentionally given you a glimpse of the event itself. Here, today, we change that with a look around inside CES Unveiled 2017, just about 15 minutes after the doors opened. Oh, and yes, there’s food. Yummy, tasty food. Enjoy!

Belkin Announces Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System

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Linksys, a brand known for some of the earliest wireless routers, today joins the the market of mesh Wi-Fi providers with their own mesh offering called Velop. Shown here at the CES 2017 Unveiled event, Belkin’s Linksys Velop is a welcome entrant to the home mesh wireless market with a unique tri-band solution that allows for completely dynamic assignment of each unit’s three 2×2 radios. Velop can work in point-to-point, mesh, star, line or tree configurations, choosing whichever is best or most-appropriate for the current wireless environment. Each radio in the system is automatically mapped to the best configuration, and Ethernet backhaul is automatically detected and supported, as well. In a market that’s becoming quite crowded, I find the Velop an interesting contender, combining some of the better aspects of both the eero and NETGEAR Orbi platforms, priced exactly the same as the eero. Units are available for pre-order today in three ($499), two ($349) and one-unit ($199) packages and will start shipping on January 15th. We’ll be getting units to test and will report back with our findings, adding them to our existing mesh Wi-Fi coverage.

Defy Apple and Add a Touchscreen to Your MacBook with AirBar

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Apple recently doubled-down on its refusal to add a touchscreen to its MacBook line, but if you’re starting 2017 with a bit of Microsoft Surface envy, you’ll soon be able to turn your MacBook Air’s display into a touchscreen, regardless of what Jony Ive thinks. AirBar is a USB-powered sensor that attaches to the bottom of your screen and enables touch interactions right on the display thanks to the company’s “zForce AIR” light field technology. The company is launching support for the MacBook Air first with support for other models to follow. Interested users can sign up at the company’s website to be notified once pre-orders go live in March. There’s no word on pricing but AirBar already sells a version for Windows laptops for $69.