Thoroughly Disappointing: Pebble is Shutting Down

Pebble has just announced that it is shutting down operations, having sold to Fitbit.

I find this to be a thoroughly disappointing move, not because I was amongst the first to back Pebble on their original Kickstarter but because, yet again, a company with an amazing product, that set itself aside from the mainstream, has turned out to only be in it for the money.

It seems the only goal in the modern start up business is to get successful enough to sell out.

I love my Pebble, I love that it’s unique, tough, dependable and funky.  Making great products just isn’t the in-thing any more……. that’s a shame.

Pebble’s Next Step

Robot Wars returns tonight!

I’m very excited that #robotwars returns on the BBC tonight (UK).  It’s been 12 years since it last aired and, this time around, it has the always interesting Dr Lucy Rogers on the judging panel and is being hosted by none other than Dara O’Briain.

In the run up (it’s now just 30 minutes from the show airing) I set up a Twitter Monitor (Raspberry Pi coupled to a Pimoroni Blinkt) to flash on every mention the of the Robot Wars hashtag.  Needless to say, it has been and continues to go absolutely crazy!  It’s almost flashing continuously.

BBC Two tonight at 8pm (UK).

Rii K12 Ultra Slim 2.4GHz Keyboard

Here is the Rii K12 Ultra Slim 2.4GHz Keyboard.


I should make it very clear, this is an ultra slim keyboard so it’s not suited to being your everyday keyboard.

Where the ultra slim keyboard excels is in being very portable, as you’d expect. It is small; here it is pictured on my PC Specialist Optimus Series 15.6″ laptop. It’s a great size for dropping in a bag when you are going portable.



It’s also rechargeable so there’s no faffing about with batteries or worrying about having to carry spares. Key feel is very nice, with positive action, good resistance and a quiet operation.

Where I think the Rii excels (other than in portability) is the trackpad. The response is excellent and it is large enough to be very usable.

The main body of the Rii K12 is steel which keeps everything very solid (but not heavy). The keyboard sits at a slight incline to aid typing and comfort and there are 5 rubber feet to prevent you chasing it around your desk (three along the top and two at the bottom). The K12 feels very stable in use and is surprisingly easy to get along with (given its size). I found I was able to type reasonably fast within a couple of minutes use.

Being so small, Rii have had to be creative with layout so expect to find punctuation and symbols in non-standard locations.

Overall, the Rii K12 is the perfect travel companion. It is light, small and yet nice to use with a very good trackpad.

HDMIPi Initial Setup

The temporary HDMIPi setup (awaiting the Raspberry Pi B+ before getting everything wholly contained in the HDMIPi casing).

The display itself is really nice. Bright, crisp, 1280×800 display with good view angles (horizontal better than vertical).

Next step is to mount the B+ into the case and pick up a cheap keyboard+trackpad combo (wireless). Once compete, the only thing external to the HDMIPi case will be the keyboard and power supply.

Then it’s time to pick up a PiGlow and get the boys to program the Pi to light it up.

#raspberrypi #hdmipi



Fashionable Tech Trends: Latest Wearable Gadgets You Shouldn’t Miss

From fitness trackers to fashion accessories, it seems like the wearable technology industry has gained momentum on the market.  Thanks to these gizmos, we now have better ways to share information, analyse our health and add style to our outfits.  Currently, the most popular items out there are Google Glass and the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

But apart from these, are there any other wearable gizmos that are as trendy and nifty as them? Let us find out in this article.

Sensoria Socks

Photo courtesy of Nicola since 1972 via Flickr Creative Commons

To help runners veer away from injuries, Heapsylon developed an activity tracker that can identify running styles that are dangerous for athletes.  Unlike other gizmos that count footsteps or distance, it calibrates the weight distribution on your feet while walking, running, or standing.  With a custom-designed app, it will coach runners with the proper footwork to reduce the risks of getting injured.

Because of its analytical features, it is an ideal accessory for a device like the iPhone 5S.  According to O2, Apple’s latest handset is now equipped with an M7 coprocessor that continuously measures data coming from the device’s gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass. With these two gadgets, users will have a holistic analysis of their walking and running patterns.


Photo courtesy of wilbertbaan via Flickr Creative Commons

For those who are enthusiastic about honing their skills in golf, Golfsense is a swing analyser that you attach to your golf glove.  Using an iOS or Android app, you can determine how much you have improved over time.  Its sensor records the way you swing the club, your tempo, backswing plane, wrist release, and other factors that make you hit or miss the ball.  It also has this Cloud Synchronization capability that lets users share their results on the internet and analyse their improvements.


Photo courtesy of this_is_id via Flickr
Photo courtesy of this_is_id via Flickr

Overseeing your activities at night, Larklife is a smart wristband that has the ability to determine how much sleep you are getting using an app.  For insomniacs, this gear is very beneficial because it picks the right time in a sleep cycle to wake them up, thus improving their sleeping patterns.  Furthermore, it replaces noisy alarm sounds with a vibrating action.

NFC Ring

Photo courtesy of Tech_Glam via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Tech_Glam via Flickr

This simple accessory has two built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) transmitters for sharing public and private information. It can lock or unlock NFC-enabled doors and smartphones without physically touching them. It can also be used to share data like Wi-Fi passwords, website links, photos, and contacts with other users.

GER Mood Sweater

Photo courtesy of SENSOREE via Flickr
Photo courtesy of SENSOREE via Flickr

GER stands for Galvanic Extimacy Responder – a technology which was based from the classic lie detector test. It analyses the emotions of the wearer and presents them as an interactive light show on the collar. A tinge of aqua represents a relaxed and calm composure, while a red tone expresses exhilaration or nervousness.

These are just some of the highly recommended fashionable wearable gizmos that one should check out in order to be updated with today’s technological trend. We are certain that other wearable devices will soon be launched on the market, but so far, feast your eyes on the ones we’ve mentioned above.

Do you other fashionable tech trends in mind?

About the Author

Jennifer Birch is a freelance tech writer with a strong passion for consumer gadgets, wearable devices, and industry news. She commonly shares her ideas on Techie Doodlers. Connect with her on Twitter: @WrittenByJenni.

USB Laptop Light – Better Than Nothing

I bought a light that plugs into the USB port on the Chromebook/laptop.  It was a £2 / $3 affair off eBay which I bought for those odd times when I’m trying to work on the Chromebook and I can’t / won’t have a mains lamp or light on.

In short…… it’s crap. The output is too narrow and focused. It really needs to be a more spread out light and ideally from over the top of the display and not the side like this one (the flex / lead isn’t long enough to loop it over the back of the display so it has to sit off to the side which means that your own hands cast shadows and defeat the whole purpose of buying it….. I guess it’s better than nothing).

What really needs to happen is for ALL keyboards to be backlit.


HP Pavilion 14-c001ea Chromebook

I’m into the Google eco system in a big way. Although a long term Apple fan, I have always enjoyed the Google eco system, making the final jump from iOS to Android early this year with the sale of my 4S and the subsequent purchase of the Nexus 4. I’m so glad I jumped ship.

The Google eco-system, in my eyes, offers me more than Apple. I love the ease of collaboration in Google Docs, the online lifestyle and, of course, the excellent social networking platform that is Google Plus (you can find me here).

I use Chrome on the desktop and have a Nexus 4 with me wherever I go. I have been wanting a device that sits between the two, and definitely something that offers me the full and immersive Google experience. A tablet seemed the obvious choice.

I have been hanging my nose over a Nexus 7 for some time, finally getting a prolonged “play” with one a few days ago. While I love the form factor, I decided it didn’t offer me enough over and above the Nexus 4 (the display isn’t that much bigger than the N4 in reality). So, I decided to look at different options for enjoying the online lifestyle.

I’ve been intrigued by the Chromebook for a long time. The only factor keeping me away thus far being that of performance. Yes, they are cheap, that’s the whole point, but the hardware has always been that little too underpowered in my opinion. I’ve been looking at both the Samsung Series 3 (ARM based) and the Acer C7 (Intel based), arguing myself in and out of each. The Samsung offers silent operation (as it is ARM based, there’s no need for a fan) and very fast boot times (SSD FTW!). However, I’ve always maintained that the ARM processor just doesn’t offer up enough grunt. Yes, it’s a browser based OS and it doesn’t need a lot of processing power but I’v always felt it would struggle given certain use cases. So, the C7 then. It has an Intel processor. Ok, it needs a fan to keep it from cooking itself but it offers up that additional power to make the whole experience that little bit more special. The downside? A hard drive. That means a slower boot time and additional noise.

Enter the HP Pavilion Chromebook.

The spoiler….. cutting to the chase, I recommend this Chromebook. I’m pleasantly surprised with the performance, the display is nice and bright and the built in Altec Lansing speakers, especially given the price point of this Chromebook, are very good. So, to the detail….

HP have a detailed specification page for the 14-c001ea here.

In summary it has:

  • Intel® Celeron® 847 with Intel HD Graphics (1.1 GHz, 2 MB cache, 2 cores)
  • 4 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB SSD
  • 14″ 1366 x 768 200 nits LED display
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • HD webcam (5.7MP)
  • Gesture enabled touchpad
  • 3 x USB ports
  • HDMI out
  • RJ45
  • Headphone / Speaker out
  • Card reader

The Hardware
The hardware is capable (obviously not blistering fast) and pages scroll through at a reasonable pace. The display is nice and bright (200 NITS) and offers clear and crisp text and graphics. The display does have a gloss finish which means plenty of reflections but I think gloss versus matt display overlays are a personal preference thing. I don’t dislike the gloss finish and, to be honest, the reflections don’t seem to get in the way.

The HP Chromebok has an integrated HD webcam, microphone and, given the price point, surprisingly good Altec Lansing speakers. While the speakers may lack the depth and bass of a larger or more expensive laptop, they are among the best I’ve heard on a mobile computing device. I was actually very pleasantly surprised.

The casing is gloss black (dust magnet) and the build quality is very good for such a budget device. It doesn’t feel flimsy at all. Weight comes in at 1.8Kg.

The keyboard is full sized, with function keys along the top as you’d expect (but they don’t behave as you might be used to on a traditional OS/laptop – see below). Navigations and editing keys (page up/down, home, end and delete) are arranged in a vertical column on the right hand side of the keyboard. They are in a less traditional layout but that’s just a minor adjustment to get used to.

The keyboard is easy to use and I seem to have adapted to it very easily, suggesting that the layout is both dimensionally and ergonomically a good fit (for me at least).

Function Keys
F1: Back
F2: Forward
F3: Refresh page
F4: Switch between maximise and restore
F5: Task (window) switching
F6: Decrease brightness (takes the brightness all the way to zero – black screen)
F7: Increase brightness
F8: Mute
F9: Decrease
F10: Increase volume
F11: Doesn’t appear to do anything (I was expecting full screen mode – which worked on the demo model I tried at the shop but apparently does nothing on my machine).
Update: After forcing a USB restore the HP is happily updating itself to the latest version of Chrome (which also brought with it full screen mode via F11)
F12: Invokes the source/terminal window
F13: Long press locks the chromebook (back to the log in screen

Shift + F4: Toggles full screen mode (what I expected F11 to do)
Fn + F13: toggles the wireless on and off

The Pavilion provides Bluetooth, 802.11 b/g/n, 3 USB ports, HDMI out, media (SD) card slot, RJ45 port, power socket and headphone jack. The obligatory desktop lock aperture is also provided.

I’ve connected a Logitech wireless mouse (nano transceiver) and it worked perfectly. The settings in Chrome recognise when a mouse is plugged in and offers up specific settings for the mouse in addition to the touchpad (speed, button swap etc).

The touchpad is ok in size (a little larger would have been welcome) and provides reasonably precise control of the pointer. The touchpad incorporates gesture based controls, allowing two finger scrolling (all directions), two finger tap to invoke the context menu (right mouse click) and the obligatory tap / double tap.

The battery is a 4 cell Li-Ion fully detachable unit (great for hot swapping to give an additional 4 hours of usage). Battery life seems to be in-line with the quoted 4 hours or so. I’ve used the Chromebook from full to empty and estimate the usage time to be around 4-4.5 hours.

Boot time
The SSD, Intel processor and 4GB RAM combination allows for impressive boot and shut down times. I clocked the boot from cold at around 6-7 seconds (to the log in screen) and the shut down time at 3-4 seconds. Wake from standby is near instantaneous.

I’ve not used the webcam in anger yet but dialling in to a quick hangout with myself (yeah, I know!) the quality looks good. Similarly, I haven’t been able to test out the microphone but will add an update once I’ve had time to jump on a hangout.

As shipped, the version of Chrome on the HP Pavilion is:
Version 23.0.1271.92
Platform 2913.200.0 (Official Build) stable-channel butterfly
Firmware Google_Butterfly.2788.39.0

I’m hoping this triggers an update soon. I have switched to the Beta channel in the hope that it triggers an update but it would be nice to force or manually invoke an update to the latest version (my understanding is that the device updates every six weeks or so).

Update: After forcing a USB restore the HP is happily updating itself to the latest version of Chrome

I made a good purchase. This is a very capable machine, offering good performance, great speakers and an overall form factor that is both easy to use and pleasing on the eye. I haven’t tried the Samsung Series 3 or the Acer C7 for any length of time so I can’t offer up a comparison. However, I would highly recommend the HP Pavilion 14-c001ea.

Check the gallery for a few photo’s I took (not the greatest quality but that’s the Nexus 4 for you).