Review: iHome’s iBN10 sheds the dock and alarms for a minimalist new four-speaker design

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I’ve reviewed a lot of iHome clock radios over the past nine years. They weren’t all formulaic, but there was a very clear evolutionary line from the original 2005-vintage, iPod-only iH5 to the iPad-ready iDL95 released last year: take two speakers, stick a clock in the middle, center a dock on the top, then make the enclosure sort of flat but pleasantly curvy. iHome had a winning general concept and look, which it updated annually with small feature, color, and shape tweaks. But its new $120 model iBN10 breaks the mold in several ways.

The dock’s gone, the clock has been glammed up and shifted to the right, and there are four speakers inside, rather than the standard two. iBN10 is also atypically handsome, built and billed as an “executive music system” by discarding the faux metals that iHome’s midrange speakers have become known for, and adding speakerphone functionality. This isn’t iHome’s first Kleenex box-sized speaker, but it’s definitely the most sophisticated.

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Best Bluetooth Speaker of the Year: JBL, Beats, Bose, UE Boom, Jawbone, more

Best-Bluetooth-speakers-2015(TL;DR: Winner, best size, best sound, runner-up best apps, best budget, best $300)

It has been a solid year and a half since our last Big “Best Portable Bluetooth speaker” competition, though we’ve done tons of updates to it in the months since.

A lot of our favorites are still around while others have been updated and new players have emerged. And what about our previous champ: the Ultimate Ears Boom? Spoiler alert: a new winner has emerged. Read on to find out who takes our Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker award… Read more

Gift guide: Premium headphones & earphones for the music lover in your life

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Apple makes great phones, tablets and computers; earphones not so much. The ones that come free with the iPhone look attractive, but they’re pretty much worth what you pay for them when it comes to sound quality.

Great sound, though, doesn’t come cheap, which is why a pair of premium headphones or earphones can make the perfect gift for someone who loves their music but perhaps doesn’t have the budget to really splash out on themselves.

If you’re buying for a musician, check out the more studio-oriented recommendations in our music gift guide. For those who will mostly use their headphones while on the move, read on …  Read more

Review: Harman Kardon Esquire Mini is the best iPhone speakerphone you can fit in your pocket

Harman Kardon Esquire Mini - Lifestyle (2)not me

I reviewed two portable Bluetooth speakerphone options earlier this year: The Philips WeCall ($145) vs. Logitech P710e ($125) . Both are square and have internal batteries and make conference calling easy. But for their ~$150 price tag, I wondered if you could get more portability and style without sacrificing sound quality.

Harman Kardon Esquire Mini Black (3D View) 02

The answer to those questions is the Harman Kardon Esquire line of portable speakerphones. Below, I take a look at the Esquire Mini which retails for $149.99 and can be found as low as $145 at Amazon or $135 at World Wide StereoRead more

Bluetooth 4.2 stops eavesdroppers, increases data transfer speed & brings direct internet access

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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced an updated Bluetooth spec, version 4.2, that introduces a number of new features alongside enhancements to speed and privacy. The update also allows for Bluetooth over IPv6, which along with an upcoming update will allow devices to have a direct connection to the Internet and open up new possibilities for Bluetooth sensors and other accessories. Read more

Here’s why beacon networks are the way to go for retailers & app developers supporting iBeacon

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If you’re a retailer, you have two options when it comes to deploying Bluetooth beacons. You can deploy the hardware yourself and build an accompanying mobile app for the experience, or you can open the experience to existing apps that users already have on their device using a beacon network. Some retailers have decided they want to own the experience and have everything go through their own mobile app, but new data suggests that might not be the way to go. Read more

OS X Yosemite 10.10.1 failing to cure WiFi problems for some users – support forums

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Yesterday’s dot-release of OS X 10.10.1 has seemingly failed to address the WiFi problems some users have been experiencing since upgrading to Yosemite, according to continuing posts on the Apple Support Communities.

Despite the first bullet-point in the release notes for 10.10.1 reading ‘Improves WiFi reliability,’ many of those who had reported connection failures, dropped connections and slow speeds said that nothing had changed since upgrading to 10.10.1 …  Read more

Samsung going head-to-head with Apple with iBeacon rival, Proximity

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The rivalry between Apple and Samsung looks set to enter a new field as Samsung has announced a direct competitor to iBeacon, called Proximity.

Samsung Proximity is a mobile marketing platform that connects consumers with places via cutting-edge Samsung location and context-aware technology.

With Samsung Proximity, visitors are able to experience rich content related to their location, and marketers can better engage with customers for increased sales and brand awareness.

The applications Samsung describes for the service are identical to those already in use with Apple’s iBeacon partners …  Read more

Upcoming Bluetooth Apple-branded Beats Solo2 headphones revealed by FCC

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Apple and its Beats by Dre group seem to be close to announcing a new pair of headphones: a Bluetooth version of their popular Solo2 headphones. Earlier this year, Beats launched the Solo2 wired earphones as a cheaper alternative to the Studio cans. Today, a wireless version has been revealed thanks to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) testing department.

As can be seen in the image above from today’s FCC filing, the design of the wireless model is akin to the wired model. The only difference appears to be the Bluetooth connectivity. The documents specify that Bluetooth 4.0 Low-Energy technology is utilized.

Interestingly, these documents indicate that these headphones are Apple-branded:

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Starwood Hotels begins rollout of iPhone/Apple Watch virtual room keys, Hilton to follow (Video)

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Starwood Hotels has officially launched its SPG Keyless service, allowing guests to use their iPhone (and, in the Spring, Apple Watch) to unlock their hotel doors, bypassing the front desk. The boutique hotel group first announced the project back in January.

1. After booking a reservation at a keyless hotel, SPG members are invited to opt-in to SPG Keyless and register their phone through the SPG App.

2. Approximately 24 hours before arrival, the guest receives his/her room number and Bluetooth key via the app.

3. Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to his/her room.

4. Then, after ensuring his/her Bluetooth is enabled, the guest simply opens the SPG App, taps the smartphone on the door lock, waits for the green light and enters the room.

The service goes live today at three Starwood brands: Aloft, Element and The W. Read more

Yosemite & iOS 8 How-to: Set up and use Handoff

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Now that Yosemite is out, with iOS 8 devices you are now able to use Handoff. Handoff will allow you to seamlessly start a task on one device, and pick it up on another device. So for example you start writing a paper on your iPad and then you want to continue it on your Mac, or you start writing an email on your iPhone and want to finish it on your iPad, this is what Handoff does. When signed into the same iCloud account and Bluetooth is turned on, Handoff will allow you to transition your work flow from one device to another.

On the Mac, you will have an additional dock separate from the main dock indicating what is running on the iOS device. On the iOS device on the lock screen you will have an icon indicating the app that is being used on the Mac. Currently it works with Apple’s apps including Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Safari, Reminders, Messages, Maps, Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Developers can also add Handoff to their apps as Things and other apps have already done. In this how-to article, I will discuss how to set up Handoff and how to use it.

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