Tag Archive | "bluetooth"

Microsoft Universal Folding Keyboard. Hands-on test.

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Some people came away from Mobile World Congress wanting the Samsung Galaxy S6. Others were blown away by a VR headset from HTC. Me, I came away from MWC thinking about the new Microsoft universal folding keyboard. This Bluetooth keyboard is an amazing bit of engineering and I had two chances to check it out at MWC. The videos are below.

Microsoft universal folding keyboard. My estimate: 120 grams  / 0.3 pounds

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Microsoft flappy-keyboard looks like a wallet. I love it!

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The new Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is tiny and desirable, but pricey. Here’s my hands-on thoughts and video.


If there’s one sub-thread that has existed throughout the last 9 years of UMPCPortal it has to be mobile keyboards. PDAs generated a reasonable market for folding, rolling, laser-projected and even fabric keyboards but it hasn’t been until recently that the market picked up again with practical engineering, materials and features. I run a Microsoft Wedge keyboard across a number of tablets and am currently typing this article on a Type Cover with a Surface Pro 3. It’s that Type Cover technology that appears in one of the lightest keyboards I’ve seen since my all-time favorite, the Samsung Q1 UMPC keyboard. The Microsoft universal folding keyboard is incredibly light and although it has a slightly split keyboard I like the layout.



P1220640         P1220635

The key sizes are slightly smaller than you get on a Type Cover but not by much and there’s dual Bluetooth connectivity option for switching between two devices. My guess is 120 grams in weight but I could be wrong. Microsoft haven’t made the weight official yet.

What Microsoft have declared is an integrated a battery that lasts for three months, auto-shutdown on close, a spill-resistant design and a total height, when folded, of 11.5mm. Naturally, the Bluetooth HID profile support means it’s going to work across many, many devices and that includes some of those old PDAs!


There’s a problem though. Where simple portable Bluetooth keyboards start at around $20, this one is going to set you back just under $100. That’s more than a low-cost Windows 8, 8-inch tablet PC!

Microsoft have a sales page up now. It’s ‘Coming Soon.’

APT-X. HQ Audio over Bluetooth Now on Ultrabooks

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This is going to be music to some peoples ears because APT-X is now supported on Ultrabooks and notebooks with some Intel Centrino Bluetooth stacks. I heard the news in September but it’s only now I’m able to confirm it.


That message just popped up on the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus I’m testing as I paired some Sennheiser PX210 Bluetooth headphones.

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Intel’s Smart Watch Concept to Demo at IDF 2012

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Sony-SmartWatch-16We’re thrilled to have been invited and sponsored by Intel to attend IDF 2012 this year. Intel Developers Forum is the place to get a feel for what’s going to happen in the next 12-18 months and to get all the questions answered by the experts responsible. Naturally we’ve been looking through the agenda. There are 17 technical sessions directly related to Ultrabooks and an additional 5 that will reveal information about Haswell, the next generation platform that you can expect to see in Ultrabooks in 2013.

One presentation jumped out at us though. Ultrabook™ Innovations – Intel Wireless Charging and Smart Watch Digital Companion.


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Motorola Smart Controller–A Handset for Your Tablet

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P1020370Finally! I’ve been looking for something like this for quite a while and I think Motorola might have done it. The Motorola Smart Controller is a Bluetooth controller that uses various BT profiles that allow you to control the tablet (good when it’s docked across the room and connected via HDMI to a big screen perhaps?) and take calls. I couldn’t confirm if it allows voice controlled calling and it would have been nice to see it used as a remote notifier for alarms, numbers, notifications. it also seems to be lacking audio controls such as play/pause, next track etc. I’m definitely going to check it out in detail when I can get hold of one.

Pics and video below

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Creative ZiiO Tablets – Cheap, Audio-Centric and with Resistive Touchscreens


ziiO7 ziio10

Lets put aside the issue of resistive touchscreens for the minute as I think most of you know that it’s not the best way to implement a finger-touch user interface. I’m taking a closer look at the Creative Tablets for one reason – APT-X.

APT-X is a 352kbps ‘CD-quality’ codec implementation that can be used over the Bluetooth A2DP profile (instead of the default SBC codec) to provide high quality audio, something that A2DP hasn’t really delivered on yet. [More information here.] Up until now, if you wanted a high-quality digital stream to feed into your HiFi, you had to take either HDMI or a digital audio output from a docking station. If you wanted something without wires, there wasn’t much choice.

The ZiiO Tablets are built on the Creative ARM Cortex A8 core in their own ZMS-08 application processor and they seem to have focused well on audio reproduction. I’m not saying this will be ‘pure’ but it’s likely, with the APT-X implementation, to able to deliver high quality wireless digital audio. Of course, you’ll have to find a device that can receive the audio (Surprise! Creative have some headphones and speakers) so there’s still some way to go here.

As for the rest of the tablet, it looks like an AOS (Android Open Source) solution with a good chunk of storage and a decent price although Android 2.1 won’t get the best out of the ARM Cortex core for sure. If you can handle the resistive touchscreen and fancy playing with some HQ audio and video (H.264, MPEG4, WMV9, MJPEG, MOV, AVI, MKV is supported) it could be of interest for you. If not, you’re probably going to be taking a look at the Archos Tablets.

ZiiO 7 information at Creative website. 16GB version will be available for just under 220 UK Pounds

ZiiO 10 information at Creative website 16GB version will be available for just under 270 UK Pounds

News found via Journal Du Geek

Using a PS3 Controller with the N900


Though we might not have loved the N900 as a consumer phone [Product page] [Review] it’s definitely a wonderfully hackable device for those who have the proper skills. Because PS3 controllers and the N900 are both Bluetooth equipped, they can be paired together. In the video below, you’ll see someone cleverly using their N900 as a console emulator with TV output to a big screen and PS3 controller. Pretty sweet if you are looking for a portable emulator setup.

via Engadget

Planning the thin blogging kit (slate experiment)

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Untitled-2 You might have seen me mention a thin blogging kit in a few other posts recently; well this one is here so that I can get my plan in order, and show you what the idea is. Let’s call it the TBK for now! The goal of the TBK is obviously to keep things thin & light! The result will hopefully be a super-light weight, and fully capable blogging platform.

The TBK will include the following:

As you can see, the entire kit is just under 1000 grams [2.202 pounds] (excluding the iPhone because that is always with me regardless). And the thickest that anything in the kit gets is the iGo BT keyboard (when closed) at just 17mm. Check out the relative sizes, and a comparison to an Asus Eee 1000HE [Portal page]:tbkThe pieces of the TBK will allow me to do pretty much anything I need to. The Archos 9 as you know is a full x86 computer with touchscreen which will be running Windows 7, meaning that I’ll be able to access my blogging software (Windows Live Writer) and do anything else that works best on a computer running a full OS, like media editing. The Mogo BT mouse and iGo BT keyboard up the ante on input for the Archos 9, providing essentially a full input experience, and everything is wireless.

If you’ve looked at the Mogo BT mouse, you’ll notice that it is actually designed to store and charge in a notebook’s express card slot. The Archos 9, as well as most small computers, don’t have an express card slot, but luckily Mogo also makes a USB express card adapter to charge the Mogo mouse if your computer happens to lack said slot, so I’ll be able to charge anywhere that USB is available. And while the Mogo mouse won’t be able to stow away in the Archos 9, I think it is plenty thin to fit the case with the iGo BT keyboard.

In addition to having high quality input through the mouse and keyboard, the iPhone will be able to provide important functions, such as video, geo-tagged content, and data tethering when WiFi is not available.

Have any suggestions for must-have thin accessories that might be great for the TBK? Let me know in the comments, but keep it thin!

Edit: Response to comments – Hey guys, good points about the netbook. Trust me, I didn’t overlook the whole category, in fact, I have an HP Mini 1000 already!

The TBK is just an Archos 9/slate experiment, I guess I should have made that clear. I haven’t used a pure slate, especially down at this size (I have a convertible tablet), so I’m not exactly sure how useful the Archos 9 will be. While a netbook is definitely a good solution, I must say, notebooks are boring!

I really just want to see how thin I can keep the entire kit. This doesn’t have any special practicality, but I’m wondering how compact I’ll be able to carry this setup. There is also increased flexibility. This doesn’t apply as much as this screen size, but on smaller devices, it is generally useful to be able to put the keyboard away and be able to have just the screen out for particular scenarios, like viewing media. With this TBK I’ll be able to selectively use one or more parts as I need them. So If I’m on the bus and I want to watch a show, I can essentially have just the ‘screen’. Again, this is just an experiment to see how a slate can be used, as we’re seeing many pop up in recent months.

A Bluetooth prank


bluetooth_icon-300x300 When one goes to the airport they are faced with the inevitable wait at the gate to board their plane. You’ll find lots of people using laptops and handheld game consoles while waiting to board. An airport is probably one of the most dense Bluetooth places in existence. Everyone seems to wear their Bluetooth headset while at the airport.

For this reason, I like to play a little Bluetooth-based prank. The prank is quite simple:  Using a device that allows one to set the name that is used to identify your device, I sometimes set this name to something like “LOOK BEHIND YOU…” then simply do a scan for nearby Bluetooth devices, and start running down the list and attempting to connect to those that show up on the scan. If I’m lucky, the person whom I’m attempting to connect to will see a message on their BT device along the lines of “LOOK BEHIND YOU… is attempting to connect to your device via Bluetooth, accept connection?” Obviously, you aren’t sure exactly who you are trying to connect to, so you’ll need to carefully observe and wait for someone to pull out their phone or other device and then quickly steal a glance behind them. The upside to this little prank is that people don’t actually need to accept the connection in order for it to work. As long as their device displays your devices Bluetooth name, they’ll get the message, and in most cases,  peer behind them quite conspicuously.

iBluetooth adds some real BT capabilities to the iPhone, full stack planned

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Speaking of the iPhone and Bluetooth stereo today, it looks like an interesting application has been released through Cydia today. Quickly: Cydia is the application that allows you to install unofficial third part applications after your iPhone or iPod Touch has been jailbroken. (iPod Touchs don’t have Bluetooth though, sorry guys!)

So what is iBluetooth? The dev says that in its current incarnation it is capable of doing file transfers of images and audio. Maybe not everything we’ve wished for, but its a start. Here is the interesting part:

The developer says that he is charging a small fee for the iBluetooth (3.99 Euros) application for an important reason. Using proceeds from the sale of the application, he plans to purchase a full Bluetooth stack an implement it as a daemon (background service) into the iPhone so that any jailbroken application can have access to the iPhones Bluetooth with a fully supported Bluetooth stack.

What does a fully supported BT stack mean? Well for starters, it would provide A2DP stereo audio over Bluetooth. On top of that it should support all of the other Bluetooth profiles, which should make it possible for the pairing of keyboards and other devices. I’m pretty excited about the prospect of this happening and if you are as well, the dev asks you not to pursue a cracked version of the application, but instead pay for it as it will lead to the implementation of a full Bluetooth stack accessible to any jailbroken application developer.


Linux port of Bluesoleil announced for UMPCs

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explorer.bmpFresh news from Computex!

IVT has just announced that they have ported the Bluesoleil 5.0 bluetooth stack found on lots of computers to Linux. The program retains its GUI and user friendliness and is supposedly ported specificaly for UMPCs. However with all the naming confusion thats around and the fact that very few UMPCs actually run linux, we assume they mean Netbooks and MIDs. Expect this to provide a good experience with bluetooth on quite a few devices in the future.