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TSA agents may steal your belongings

Airlines, Airport, Holidays, Money, One Bag, Security, Travelling, iPadEdward KiledjianComment

Would you be surprised if I told you that some TSA agents have been caught stealing from passengers?  The TSA is reporting that  an agent at JFK may have stolen up to $5,000 in cash from passengers as their personal affects rolled down the screening conveyor belt.

Another TSA employee, this time in Dallas, has been put on administrative leave because he may have stolen up to 8 iPads from passengers. MSNBC interviewed (Nico Melendez ) a TSA spokesperson who made some interesting recommendations for travellers:

  • He recommends putting all your valuable items (cash, watch, wallet, phone, etc.) in a zippered pocket in a briefcase. I couldn’t agree more. Never drop valuables in a plastic bin where a good thief can steal it in the blink of an eye. Make is as difficult for them to steal as possible. Personally I put my valuables inside one of the many inside pockets of my Scottevest jacket, then zip the pocket and zip the jacket.
  • He recommended never checking in valuables. He says that in addition to TSA screening, a checked luggage may be handled four or five times by airlines (by up to 10 different people). I read this and wonder why people still check in luggage.
  • He says that sometimes passengers pick up the wrong luggage (from the carousel) and therefore lost luggage may not have actually been stolen but rather taken by mistake. 
  • He also highlights the fact that items often get forgotten in “resolution rooms” after a more detailed inspection. So double check to ensure you packed up all your belongings if you get sent to secondary screening.
  • He recommends adding clear identification to all your belongings to ensure your items can find their way back to you if misplaced. I agree with this recommendation but with one caveat, never list your address.  If a thief knows you are heaving to Cancun on vacation and picks up your address from your luggage tag then he can more comfortably rob your house while you are away. I recommend listing your name and a cell phone number.

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Veho 360 Bluetooth speaker review

Apple, Blackberry, Bluetooth, Google, Holidays, Hotel, Playbook, Smartphone, Speaker, Tablet, Travelling, Veho, WP7, iPad, iPhone, technologyEdward Kiledjian1 Comment

 

Although this is primarily a European product, it is often easily available on ebay and I wanted to conduct a quick review for my readers. I received this as a christmas gift and have been using it daily for about 3 weeks now.

Quick look

The Veho 360 is a small cylindrical battery powered speaker. It stands 5 cm tall and 4cm in diameter.  The device has a  2.2 watt speaker that shoots sound out from the top. On the side, it has 2 ports: a charging port and a 3.5mm audio port. You can use the 3.5mm port to connect the speaker to a non-Bluetooth device.

Herein lies one of my pet peeves with electronic devices… why do I need a special proprietary tip USB cable to charge it?

On the bottom of the device is a little switch with 3 modes: Bluetooth, off and 3.5mm audio in. As you can imagine, the first mode turns on the speakers Bluetooth radio, the second mode turns off the speaker and the last mode allows you to use it with the 3.5mm audio in (thus saving battery by turning the Bluetooth radio off). The switch itself is easy to use and mode selection is clear with a solid click feeling when you change modes.

Cost

You can find this speaker online for about $50US.

Battery

The company recommends charging the unit for 4 hours for a full charge. I conducted a couple of charge discharge cycles then timed the duration of the battery and was able to get between 3.5-4 hours of constant playback. The battery is not replaceable and I was not able to identify the quality of the battery so I expect it to support 300-500 charge cycles.

Pairing

Pairing the device was simple. I simply moves the switch to Bluetooth mode and my iPhone asked if I wanted to pair with the Veho. It was that simple. If you want to pair it with another device, you have to force the original device to forget the Veho, switch Bluetooth off on the original device,  switch the toggle to off and back to bluetooth and the new device should see the pairing option.

Sound Quality

You control the volume of the device using the volume rocker of your source device (iphone, ipod, etc). Now let’s make it clear that this is not a high fidelity speaker system.  Sound quality seems to be a little better with the 3.5mm audio in (compared to Bluetooth mode).  Bluetooth has limited tranmital capacity and should not be used if you are an audiophile. 

For a small pocketable speaker, I was expecting lots of distortion at the higher volume levels but to my surprise, it handles higher volume levels well. As expected, you can start hearing sound artifacts and degradation as your Bluetooth source moves farther and farther away from the speaker. For normal use (5-10 feet from the speaker with open access) you won’t notice this. I pushed the Bluetooth connection to its technical limits and although the audio does degrade, I didn’t lose my connection once (staying within the allowable maximum Bluetooth distance standards of course).

Recommendation

Overall I think this is a nice little speaker especially if you want something small that travels well. I do with I could charge it with a regular USB connection.  How does this compare to the Jawbone Jambox or the Logitech Mini Boombox?

I have tried the Jambox and can say it is far superior to the Veho. The Jambox offers cleaner, louder and richer sound but costs 3 times more.  If you need something with longer battery life, louder volumes and the ability to add feature via loadable speaker apps then go for the Jambox.

I have not tested the Logitech mini Boombox yet so if Logitech wants to send a sample, email me ;-)

 

 

OnLive Desktop brings Windows 7 to your tablet

IOS, Microsoft, OnLive, Tablet, Windows, iPad, iPhoneEdward Kiledjian1 Comment

OnLive is an innovative company that offers to stream console games to your TV, PC or tablet. So you can start a game on your TV, then move to the PC and continue playing them at the airport on your ipad as you wait for the plane. What amazes most people is just how smooth the graphics are for a remotely streamed offering.

The fine folks at OnLive are now bringing their remote streaming expertise to the wonderful world of Windows. They will be bringing to market (on January 12 2012) a new offering called OnLive Desktop. You will be presented with a full windows 7 operating system loaded with the Microsoft Office productivity apps you have come to love. What really sets them apart is that the entire experience is touch optimized and is so well designed, you can even stream a video and watch it on your device with little degradation or artifacting.

We know that their basic entry level offering will be free and offer some basic apps with 2GB of cloud storage. The next tier will be $9.99 and offer 50GB of cloud storage and the full suite of Microsoft Office productivity tools. An enterprise version is also in the works with all of the customization and control companies expect.

iPad 3 rumor roundup

Apple, IOS, iPad, iPhoneEdward Kiledjian2 Comments

Anything you hear or read about the iPad 3 is pure speculation so take it with a grain of salt but..... in case you were wondering what the interwebs are thinking, here is a roundup.

Most expect the iPad 3 to include:

Retina Display - Likely

Most would be surprised if the iPad 3 didn't include a Retina display. A Retina display is any screen that has a pixel density above 300dpi. The current rumor is that the iPad 3 will have double the resolution (2,048-by-1,536) of the iPad 2 plus a 326dpi Retina display.

Not only has this been a persistent rumor but we know that Apple rivals are working to bring these types of resolutions to their devices so Apple has to deliver if it wants to remain king of the hill.

Multiple Screen Sizes - Unlikely

Many believe Apple will have to create a smaller cheaper and more portable iPad to stay competitive. We all know Steeve thought a smaller screen would make the device un-usable so my guess is that they will not create a smaller screen version.

New Quad-Core A6 Processor - Likely

With each iteration of the iPad, Apple has bumped up the horsepower and there is no reason why they wouldnt do the same again. Chances are they will move to a new faster and more efficient chip likely called the A6. Unfortunatly that is about all we can say with certainty. We don't have any credible information about the chip. Is it a faster dual-core or is it a quad-core chip? If Apple can come up with a power efficient quad-core chip then I'm sure they'll use it but they won't sacrifice battery time for power. 

More Storage - Maybe

Many thought this was a given but with the advent of iCloud and itunes Match. I doubt Apple will double storage capacity on the iPad 3. I believe we will see 16/32/64GB capacities like the iPhone 4s.

Thunderbolt compatible - Not likely

Obviously Apple will someone bestow the speed of thunderbold on its new device while maintaining USB connectivity. The read question is will the connectivity be through a dock connector cable or will they add a thunderbolt port on the device itself?

My personal guess is that connectivity will be done through a dock-connector cable.

iPad 3 will be thicker

If Apple uses a higher resolution Retina display then we all expect the device to be slightly bigger since the back illumination may require an additional LED illumination bar and more battery power.

Better camera - likely

There is nothing more frustrating that taking beautiful pictures on your iPhone 4s then switching to an ipad and taking grainy ugly ones. My guess is Apple will be the 8MP Iphone 4s camera on the back and an HD capable camera on the front to allow HD Facetime.

From Aluminum to Carbon - moderately likely

We know Apple hired a composites engineer a while back and the standing rumor is that they will switch from aluminum to a lighter and stronger carbon fiber composite. This may provide a better user experience, more reliability and cheaper manufacturing costs.

March release - Likely

There is no way to be certain but most industry insiders expect the new Apple tablet to be released in March. This makes even more sense when you the other industry rumor is that Google will release a new sub $200 7" Android tablet to compete with the Amazon Fire and Apple iPad.

iPad 2 price drop - Likely

As competition from the Amazon Fire heats up, Apple may have to find a way to play in the lower cost tablet market and keeping the iPad 2 as their entry model may do the trick. Analysts believe Apple may keep it around and sell it for either $299 or $399.

Airports may be hazardous to your Kindle

Amazon, Apple, Europe, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Travelling, eReader, iPad, technologyEdward KiledjianComment

Over the last couple of days, we have been hearing more and more complaints from Kindle owners about airport X-Ray machines killing their beloved eReaders.

The UK Telegraph reports some travellers claiming their device was bricked after going through the X-Ray. The devices were nonfunctional with blank screens.

Amazon is denying that there is a design issue but seems to be replacing affected devices. Some specialists believe it may not be the X-Rays themselves but more a static discharge from the machine’s thick rubber conveyor belt.  So far, we are only hearing complaints from Kindle owners. I wonder if owners of other devices like the Kobo, B&N Nook or Sony eReader are having the same experience.

Links:

UK Telegraph

Gizmodo