Category Archives: Gadgets

Rocki, A Small Adapter That Turns Standard Speakers Into a Wireless Sound System

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Rocki ($49) is a small adapter that turns old speakers into a wireless sound system that you can control with a smartphone, tablet or computer.

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Plug the device into the speaker auxiliary input via 3.5mm or RCA, connect the Rocki and smart device to your home WiFi network and you can start streaming your music. The device, which was created thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, is available for purchase now through the Rocki site.

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R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set

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This set of R2-D2 Measuring Cups from ThinkGeek ($20) disassembles into 4 measuring cups plus 4 measuring spoons and reassembles in a snap (fortunately, it’s not as complicated as C-3PO).

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Each has its measurement written inside so you can’t forget what they are and handles on the back that don’t distract from R2′s aesthetic.

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Features:

- Set of measuring cups that look like R2-D2
- Officially-licensed Lucasfilm merchandise
- Body built from 4 measuring cups: 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1 cup
- Detachable utility arms turn into nested measuring spoons: 1/4, 1/2, 1 tsp, and 1/3 tbsp
- Dome is both 1/2 cup and 1 tbsp
- Materials: Food-grade ABS plastic (BPA-free)
- Dimensions: 6 1/2″ tall x 5″ across x 3 3/4″ deep

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Amazon.com To Acquire Digital Comics Company, ComiXology

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Amazon.com today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire comiXology, the company that revolutionized the digital comics reading experience with their immersive Guided View technology and makes discovering, buying, and reading comic books and graphic novels easier and more fun than ever before.

“ComiXology’s mission is to spread the love of comics and graphic novels in all forms,” said David Steinberger, co-founder and CEO of comiXology. “There is no better home for comiXology than Amazon to see this vision through. Working together, we look to accelerate a new age for comic books and graphic novels.”

“Amazon and comiXology share a passion for reinventing reading in a digital world,” said David Naggar, Amazon Vice President, Content Acquisition and Independent Publishing. “We’ve long admired the passion comiXology brings to changing the way we buy and read comics and graphic novels. We look forward to investing in the business, growing the team, and together, bringing comics and graphic novels to even more readers.”

Founded in 2007, comiXology offers a broad library of digital comic book content from over 75 of the top publishers as well as top independent creators. Following the acquisition, comiXology’s headquarters will remain in New York.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

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Sesame Go: A New Video On-Demand Service to Access Your Furry Friends in Full-Length Episodes, Anytime

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Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, today announced Sesame Go, a new subscription video on demand service which provides the latest and greatest collection of full-length TV episodes of Sesame Street on the internet. Sesame Go is powered by the Kaltura MediaGo OTT Solution.

Sesame Go provides a safe, ad-free environment to watch your favorite Sesame Street content while using the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Available as a web service through any internet browser, and optimized not only for Mac and PC computers but also for tablets and mobile devices, Sesame Go provides families with a child-friendly platform to instantly watch the latest full-length TV episodes of Sesame Street, plus hundreds of episodes from prior seasons and Sesame Classics Volume 1 and 2. The service also includes episodes from seasons one and two of Pinky Dinky Doo, the animated series for children ages 4-6 produced by Sesame Workshop and Cartoon Pizza, which uses storytelling and games to guide the characters through lessons in vocabulary and problem solving. Subscribe to Sesame Go at www.sesamego.com for $3.99/month or $29.99/year.

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My Office

Superman needs his Fortress of Solitude and Batman has the Bat Cave. We all need a favorite space to relax, reflect, write, read a book, watch a movie or showcase a favorite collectible or souvenir.

Maybe it’s a game room, library or secret space hidden by a moveable bookcase that leads to a man cave.

I’ve always been curious what curios J.J. Abrams keeps close by, what books fill Stephen King’s shelves, what collectibles does Patton Oswald possess, what artwork lines Jim Lee’s walls, how many toys fill John Lasseter’s Pixar office and what movie memorabilia does Steven Spielberg showcase? Perhaps someday I will find out!

The answers would reflect the owner’s personality, interests, accomplishments, etc. Equally as fascinating to me would be how the items were displayed.

So, I thought I would let you into my world and show you my office and give you the nickel tour.

I wanted my Southern California office to reflect my varied interests and showcase some of my favorite things.

I have collected Stephen King books since 1983. He’s my favorite author and I’m also a fan of his son, Joe Hill. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both authors on numerous occasions and they are wonderful talented friendly people. The bottom shelf of my bookcase is filled with oversized art books featuring the work of Walt Disney, Jack Kirby, Jim Lee, Alex Ross, Todd McFarlane, Charles Schultz and Tim Burton.

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My Funko Pop! Batman collection guards my graphic novels. Batman is my all-time favorite comic book character as reflected in the art, toys and books in my work space.

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Some of my prized collectibles are an original Batman ink commission by Brazilian artist, Rafael Grampa (I also have his Batman Black & White statue), a signed Adam West Batman photo, a signed Drew Struzan Stephen King Dark Tower print and a series of Jock letterpress Batman prints signed by the artist.

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A fun 3D light up replica of Iron Man’s mask appears to be bursting through my wall.

I also collect posters, many of which are from MONDO, a boutique art gallery based in Austin Texas. They release limited print runs of pop culture posters that are lovingly rendered by amazing artists. Some of my cherished prints are based on the Universal Monster movies by Francesco Francavilla, Star Wars by Tyler Stout and The Incredibles by Tom Whalen. Another favorite piece is my Batman Rogues Gallery print set by Olly Moss; With only a few simple brush strokes the UK artist cleverly captures the essence of the Joker, Poison Ivy and the Riddler.

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The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller from 1986 is my favorite graphic novel so I had to pick up this statue of Batman vs. The Joker by Kotobukiya. I was a huge fan of both the original Batman TV show and the Batman Animated series so the 1966 Batmobile and the vinyl Animated Batman figure are prominently displayed.

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Amazon Dash

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Amazon launched a new product named Amazon Dash today (April 4, 2014) that allows the user to add groceries and household goods to their shopping lists using the company’s AmazonFresh service.

A black-and-white hand-held wand-shaped remote-control features a microphone, speaker as well as a bar-code reader and links directly to the user’s AmazonFresh account.

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Dash connects to your home Wi-Fi network and works directly with your AmazonFresh account. Say or scan items into your Dash, and then view the list on your desktop or mobile device to purchase and schedule delivery.

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Every member of the family can use Dash to easily add items to your AmazonFresh shopping list. Keep it on your kitchen counter or hang it on the refrigerator. Did your kids just eat the last of the cereal? Conveniently refill and restock your home’s everyday essentials, and have fun doing it.

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The device is available only for users of the AmazonFresh which currently operates exclusively in Southern California, San Francisco and Seattle. The device is free during the trial period, according to the product’s website.

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Amazon Launches Amazon Fire TV

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At a media event today, Amazon introduced Amazon Fire TV ($99), a streaming box designed to compete with Apple TV. The box has a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for fast downloads. Larsen claims it’s three times as fast as Apple TV and other boxes. Many apps are supported, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and of course, Amazon Prime. The included remote control supports voice search with a built-in microphone. FireTV also supports games with the physical remote, an upcoming app, or the Fire game controller ($40). The device will begin shipping today.

Features include:

- Massive selection—Over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, millions of songs, and over a hundred games

- Perfect with Prime—Unlimited access to thousands of popular movies and TV shows including exclusive titles like Downton Abbey and Under the Dome. Get a free 30-day trial

- Voice search that actually works—Simply say the name of what you want to watch and start enjoying in seconds.

- Tiny box, huge specs—Fast quad-core processor, 2 GB of memory, dedicated GPU, plus 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound

Easy to set up and use—Pre-registered to your Amazon account so you can enjoy favorite titles and personalized recommendations

- Instant streaming—Exclusive new feature ASAP predicts what movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and buffers them for playback before you hit play

- Perfect for parents—Amazon FreeTime lets you easily limit screen time and create personalized profiles just for kids (coming soon)

- Great for gaming, too—Play blockbuster titles like Minecraft-Pocket Edition, The Walking Dead, and Monsters University, plus free games and Amazon exclusives. Paid games start from just 99 cents

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Darth Vader Toaster

The Darth Vader Toaster ($45) used the power of the Force (electricity) to transform regular bread into delicious toast, complete with the Star Wars logo on one side and a picture of the Dark Lord of the Sith on the other. But the best part is the toaster itself. It’s shaped just like Darth Vader’s helmet. It will be available July 2014 but it can be pre-ordered now for $45 at BigBadToyStore.com.

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Card Table

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Card Table, a free app lets you and up to three friends play poker, gin rummy, bridge, blackjack, war, or any other card game you can think of, all using a single iPad as the table and your iPhones as your personal hands. It works over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

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Apple Updates Most Affordable 9.7-Inch iPad With Retina Display, Improved Cameras & Enhanced Performance—Now Available Starting at $399

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Apple today announced iPad with Retina display replaces iPad 2 as the most affordable 9.7-inch iPad at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $529 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The fourth generation iPad features the amazing 9.7-inch Retina display, the Apple-designed A6X chip, ultrafast Wi-Fi, a 5MP iSight camera which also captures 1080p HD video, a FaceTime HD camera, and support for LTE carriers worldwide, all while delivering up to 10 hours of battery life.  iPad with Retina display comes with iOS 7, featuring hundreds of great new features, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop, enhanced Photos, Safari, Siri and iTunes Radio.

Pricing & Availability

iPad with Retina display models in black or white are available for a suggested retail price of $399 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $529 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model for either AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. Smart Cover and Smart Case for iPad with Retina display are available in dark gray for $39 (US) and $49 (US) iPad Air with Wi-Fi models are available in silver or space gray for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, $699 (US) for the 64GB model and $799 (US) for the 128GB model. iPad Air with Wi-Fi + Cellular are available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model, $829 (US) for the 64GB model and $929 (US) for the 128GB model. 

iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi models are available in silver or space gray for a suggested retail price of $399 (US) for the 16GB model, $499 (US) for the 32GB model, $599 (US) for the 64GB model and $699 (US) for the 128GB model. iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a suggested retail price of $529 (US) for the 16GB model, $629 (US) for the 32GB model, $729 (US) for the 64GB model and $829 (US) for the 128GB model. Additionally, the original iPad mini is offered at $299 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $429 (US) for the 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model for either AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile or Verizon

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JBL Synchros S400BT Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

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JBL Synchros S400BT Bluetooth wireless on-ear stereo headphones ($299.95 ) are full of new features and innovations, bringing world-renowned JBL professional audio sound in a wireless configuration.

The new headphones deliver the superb sound-staging that the JBL Synchros line is known for.  It combines intuitive touch-sensitive control with the on-the-go freedom and convenience of Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity with advanced aptX audio encoding to bring you a unique combination of innovative user interface with JBL’s balanced audio and PureBass performance.

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JBL Synchros S400BT headphones are both easy to use and powerful to experience; the intuitive touch-sensor interface on its left earcup lets you adjust music volume, switch tracks or receive calls with the simple swipe of a finger. No more fumbling for tiny buttons in hard-to-reach places: the whole surface of the earcup acts as a single touch-sensitive control system.

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The touch-sensitive surface of the cup tracks the movement of your fingers across the touch sensor with an LED trail, spotlighting your audio experience for all eyes to see. NFC technology enables easy pairing with other NFC devices with a simple tap. And the built-in batteries boast 15 hours of playback time via Bluetooth, with the ability to connect via cable for passive playback mode. 40 mm drivers deliver amazing JBL clarity and hard-hitting bass, while the echo-cancellation technology enables natural sounding phone calls.

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For comfort, ergonomics and portability, JBL Synchros S400BT headphones sport 3D-axis earcup rotation and plush leather cushions with an authentic steel headband.  Viewed as a whole, the S400BT is a wireless headphone that’s meant to celebrate — as much as to simplify — premium listening.

Features and Specifications:

- JBL professional audio sound with PureBass performance
- Advanced aptX encoding for the best possible wireless audio experience
- Bluetooth 3.0 technology for a wireless listening experience
- Simple NFC pairing capability
- Touch sensor controls intuitively manage music & calls
- Smart LED light trail follows the swipe of your finger on the touch sensor earcup
- USB rechargeable battery lasts up to 15 hours
- Dual use: plug in the included cable to use even while the battery is charging
- 40 mm driver delivers amazing clarity and hard-hitting bass
- Echo-cancellation technology for more natural sounding phone calls
- 3D-axis earcup rotation enhances ergonomic fit and portability
- Plush leather cushions and authentic steel headband for functionality and comfort

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Wake Up And Smell The Bacon With Oscar Mayer’s New iOS App

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Prepare yourself for a bacon awakening beyond your wildest imagination. Wake Up & Smell The Bacon is a multi-sensory alarm experience that starts your morning with the mouthwatering sizzle and smell of Oscar Mayer bacon.

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A new alarm app by Oscar Mayer lures you out of bed every morning to not only the sweet sound of frying bacon, but to the smell as well. A small gadget attached to your iPhone’s headphone jack sends a bacon fragrance your way as the alarm sizzles.

The bacon device isn’t being sold – you’ll have to win it through a sweepstakes on Oscar Mayer’s website.

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Apple Rolls Out CarPlay Giving Drivers A Smarter, Safer & More Fun Way To Use iPhone In The Car

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Apple today announced that leading auto manufacturers are rolling out CarPlay, the smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone in the car. CarPlay gives iPhone users an incredibly intuitive way to make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages with just a word or a touch. Users can easily control CarPlay from the car’s native interface or just push-and-hold the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri without distraction.

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Vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will premiere CarPlay to their drivers this week, while additional auto manufacturers bringing CarPlay to their drivers down the road include BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp. 

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Once iPhone is connected to a vehicle with CarPlay integration, Siri helps you easily access your contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails. When incoming messages or notifications arrive, Siri provides an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers’ messages and letting them dictate responses or simply make a call.

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CarPlay makes driving directions more intuitive by working with Maps to anticipate destinations based on recent trips via contacts, emails or texts, and provides routing instructions, traffic conditions and ETA. You can also simply ask Siri and receive spoken turn-by-turn directions, along with Maps, which will appear on your car’s built-in display.

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CarPlay gives drivers access to all of their music, podcasts, audiobooks and iTunes Radio with easy navigation through listening choices from the car’s built-in controls or simply by asking Siri to pull up what you’d like to hear. CarPlay also supports select third-party audio apps including Spotify and iHeartRadio, so you can listen to your favorite radio services or sports broadcast apps while driving.

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Apple CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. CarPlay will be available in select cars shipping in 2014.

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Star Wars Lightsaber BBQ Tongs

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Flip your burgers and franks with the ruthless precision of a Sith Lord. Star Wars BBQ Tongs (£19.99) are the pincers of choice for any galactic chef.

These handy barbecue tongs are based on Darth Vader’s lightsaber, circa Episode IV. With a handy pair of pincers at one end and the lightsaber’s iconic hilt at the other, these BBQ tongs are the perfect kitschy gift for any Star Wars fan/outdoor chef! May the Sauce be with you.

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Features:

- Barbecue tongs with removable transparent red cover
– Officially licensed Star Wars product
– Features classic Lightsaber SFX
– Requires 2 x AA batteries (not included)

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The Walt Disney Studios Announces Disney Movies Anywhere

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The Walt Disney Studios today unveiled its exclusive cloud-based digital movie service, Disney Movies Anywhere. This all-new app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and Web experience enables consumers to discover, purchase, manage, and watch movies from Disney, Pixar, and Marvel at home and on the go. iTunes is the premier digital movie provider for Disney Movies Anywhere.

The debut of Disney Movies Anywhere coincides with the digital release of Disney’s hit film “Frozen” and features Disney’s library of over 400 active digital titles. In addition, for a limited time, Disney Movies Anywhere users who activate and connect their Disney Movies Anywhere account to their iTunes account will receive a free digital copy of Disney Pixar’s animated classic “The Incredibles.”

Disney Movies Anywhere unlocks digital content across platforms and devices, enabling access to user-owned Disney digital content and movies in the Disney Movies Anywhere ecosystem and through iTunes.

With an easy-to-use interface, consumers can explore live-action and animated films from Disney, Pixar, and Marvel; watch exclusive content and bonus features; preview upcoming offerings; and more. Users can simply connect their iTunes account to their Disney Movies Anywhere account to begin populating their Disney digital movie locker and watch movies online and on their devices. Featuring simultaneous access on multiple devices, Disney Movies Anywhere enables consumers to stream and download Disney movies on their iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and Apple TV (through iCloud or using AirPlay). In addition, Disney Movies Anywhere functions as a streaming movie service when users log in to the website on their desktop or laptop computers (Mac or PC).

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iPad Version

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iPhone Version

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Web Version

Since 2008, Disney has included codes in select DVD and Blu-ray products redeemable for digital copies of Disney, Pixar, and Marvel films. Users can now redeem these codes through Disney Movies Anywhere, and Digital Copy titles previously redeemed in Disney Movie Rewards or via iTunes will automatically be active in both Disney Movies Anywhere and iTunes once a user logs into Disney Movies Anywhere and connects their iTunes account. Additionally, for the first time, consumers can now earn Disney Movie Rewards points for their digital purchases through Disney Movies Anywhere going forward.

Disney Movies Anywhere’s functionality is built upon Disney’s proprietary digital rights locker, KeyChest. The Disney Movies Anywhere App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.appstore.com/disney. Sign up is also available through the Disney Movies Anywhere website.

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Apple Announces iTunes Festival Coming To SXSW

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Apple today announced the first iTunes Festival to be held in the US, featuring an amazing lineup of global superstars, running from March 11-15. Taking place at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, home of Austin City Limits, the iTunes Festival at SXSW will feature iTunes chart toppers including Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull, Keith Urban, ZEDD and more to come. 

All five nights of the iTunes Festival will be available to enjoy for free as a live and on-demand stream via the iTunes Store on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC. Performances can also be seen in the iTunes Festival app on your iOS device or with Apple TV in stunning HD.

Performances will be available for purchase and download on the iTunes Store. For additional details on the lineup for the iTunes Festival check out www.itunes.com/festival.

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Sony The Bottled Walkman

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To release their new underwater, swimmer-friendly MP3 players, Sony and their advertising agency, DraftFCB created the Bottled Walkman. To showcase the waterproof function of this MP3 player, Sony sold these Walkman sets immersed in a bottle of water.

This Walkman allows swimmers to listen to music while they are swimming laps in the pool. With a specific target audience of swimmers, it was even more crucial for the brand to ensure that their intended audience got to experience the product.

Keeping that in mind, Sony embarked on a smart product placement idea: to sell these MP3 players in vending machines at gyms and pool complexes where swimmers gathered. The work definitely paid off, with news channels picking up the story of this unique marketing idea.

 

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iPhone In1Case

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The In1Case ($45) combines an iPhone case with multitools without having anything extra in your pocket.

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Hidden in slots built into the polycarbonate case are blue and red pens, Phillips and Flathead screwdrivers, a nail file, tweezers, scissors, and a toothpick, as well as a kickstand for viewing video. The case is designed to fit an iPhone 5 or 5s.

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Skydrop Wi-Fi Sprinkler Controller

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The Skydrop Sprinkler Controller ($300) has a built-in Wi-Fi connection which syncs with a cloud service and adjusts its watering schedule based on current local weather conditions. You can manage the system from your phone, tablet, or laptop, keeping you informed while saving you money and conserving water.

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Apple Celebrates 30 Years of The Macintosh Computer

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Apple released the first Macintosh computer 30 years ago.

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To celebrate, Apple has created a video titled “Thirty Years of Innovation” and an interactive timeline of the Mac’s development.


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The Akebono Bin 8 All-in-One Kitchen Set Includes Nine Handy Tools Inside a Wine Bottle Sized Container

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The Akebono Bin 8 All-in-One Kitchen Set Includes Nine Handy Tools Inside a Wine Bottle Sized Container

For those of us with small kitchens and big dreams, the Akebono Bin 8 All-in-One Kitchen Tool Set ($40) is pure serendipity. The set boasts nine handy tools including a funnel, flower vase, lemon squeezer, spice grater, boiled egg dicer, cheese grater, lid opener, egg separator and a 420 ml measuring cup, leaving a footprint no larger than a wine bottle.

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The set is part of the MoMA Design Store’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

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Beats Music, A New Subscription-Based Streaming Music Service

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Beats Music is a new subscription-based streaming music service with a focus on curation. The service, which launched today, was created by Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre as well as chief creative officer Trent Reznor. Beats Music is currently available on the web, iOS, and Android, and a Windows Phone app will launch on Friday.

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EveryDrop Water Filter

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At home & on the go, enjoy freshly filtered water everywhere with Whirlpool’s EveryDrop Water Filter ($20).

Its contoured funnel design fills anything. The micro contaminant filter reduces Chloramine and Chlorine five times faster than leading brand water filter pitchers. The EveryDrop Water Filter filters 1 gallon in 2 minutes!

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It’s BPA-free, nontoxic, no Bisphenol A, no phthalates, and is dishwasher safe. It comes with a Protective Travel Case and is available in white and blue at select retailers.

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OneWheel Electric Skateboard

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The Onewheel is a self-balancing, single-wheeled electric skateboard that “gives you the feeling of flying”. The deck can go as fast as 12 MPH.

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Thanks to its 48V lithium battery you should be able to keep going for between four and six miles depending on the terrain. The Onewheel has already hit its Kickstarter target and sold out at the early $1,200 price.

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Apple iPad Air TV Ad – Your Verse

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Apple has debuted a new television ad for the iPad Air, titled “Your Verse”.

Amid shots of iPad Air being used in a wide variety of situations, the voiceover is from Robin Williams’ English teacher John Keating from the film Dead Poets Society.

 

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