bCODA CODA One Hands Free Bluetooth Speaker Review

I hate when I’m driving in the car with my phone in my pocket and it starts ringing. Not only am I going to miss the call, but I also have to wait until I reach my destination before I can find out who was trying to call me. Yet, for some reason, I never bought a hands free kit for my car. Then this showed up in the mail. It’s the bCODA CODA One, and when I saw it at CES earlier this month, I was intrigued.

CODA One

Hands Free For The Car

Some people can barely drive safely, much less operate a cell phone while driving. I can answer calls safely, but I wait to make calls until I’m no longer driving or stopped at a light. CODA One connects seamlessly via bluetooth to your phone and its one-touch operation for phone calls makes it safe and simple to answer or even initiate calls while driving. One press of the multi-function button in the middle of the device made my phone prompt me for a number to call. I blurted out “Call Wife” and he phone was ringing a few seconds later as seen in the demo video below. Before, I would have to pull out my phone, unlock it with my four-digit pass code, go to favorites and tap on my wife’s entry. This hands-free approach is so much easier.

I’m sure you’ve seen a hands-free device before, and so have I. What caught my attention at CES was how this portable speaker quickly transforms into a handset for your phone. With your phone still in your pocket, that call you took while driving can easily become private by hitting the Mode button on the device and holding it to your head like a phone. It’s such a simple, yet smart feature that really makes the device worthwhile.

A total of six magnets in the handset and the detachable clip hold the clip firmly in place while making it easy to remove with one hand while driving. The two magnets in the handset also make it easy to attach to any metal surface.

A Secondary Speaker For Your Devices

More than just a handset, the CODA One is also a wireless speaker system for any bluetooth enabled device. I paired it to my iPad and ran a number of tests, including some FPS game play shown in the review video below. The sound came through clear and was a lot louder than my iPad’s built in speaker. With the visor clip doubling as a stand, I propped it up next to me while I played games on the iPad for a much improved audio experience.

CODA One Review Video

This device is best experienced in your own hands, but the next best thing is a video demonstrating its uses and functionality, so here you go.

Conclusions

Priced at $99 (unverified), the CODA One is on the expensive side but well worth it. It has a relaxed design to match any setup and feels natural in your hand when used as a handset. Simplicity and actually useful features set it apart from any hands-free device or bluetooth speaker I’ve seen. With 20 hours of talk time, it will barely need charging. The only reason you shouldn’t buy one is if you win it here.

Win a CODA One

Not only do the makers of CODA One make a killer product, but they’ve sent another CODA One for me to give away. How awesome is that. Like always, all you have to do to earn contest entries is be social with the contest tool below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CES 2013 Photos, Videos, and Wrap-Up

Wow, what a week! Last week, I hopped on a plane to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show. More than 3,250 exhibitors unveiled some 20,000 in 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space and I covered as much as time and physical ability would allow in the three days I was there. In this post, I’ll do my best to summarize what I found at CES with the help of some photos and video below. Additionally, you’ll have an opportunity to voice your opinion about what products you want to see reviewed or have a chance to win here.

Bigger, Badder TVs

It’s no shock to find the latest televisions on display at CES, but there’s been a shift back to the promotion of bigger TVs, while still giving attention to the 3D market. This year also brought an array of 4K Ultra HD TVs brandishing incredible clarity. With several 100 inch units, big was in this year for sure. If picture quality trumps size when you TV shop, the 4K displays will leave you with a little drool in the corner of your mouth. And let’s not forget 3D and smart TVs. I saw a lot of 3D sets (especially from a new name to me, HiSense) and a wide offering of even smarter TVs, many complete with a full muti-touch interface.

Cameras At CES

Nikon D5200 DSLR Camera

The first thing I saw upon entering CES was Samsung’s live demonstration of their new point and shoot cameras. With large touch screens and a responsive interface, I quickly wanted one of my own. Nikon and Canon once again asserted their positions at the top of the DSLR pack. Nikon showed me a teeny tiny wireless adapter that lets you connect your camera to your network and control it with your phone. Fujitsu, Pentax, and others entered the fray with powerful lenses and more cameras than you could imagine testing in just a couple days. GoPro also shared the spotlight with some competition in the world of HD sports and adrenaline junkie video solutions. The Astak ActionPro 3 strongly resembled the GoPro in many ways and companies like Optrix offered cases iPhone cases that mount your iPhone to your helmet/bike/car while protecting it.

Computers And Tablets Galore!

Archos Gamepad Tablet

When the iPad came out, the previous success of the iPhone had every company from here to Hong Kong scrambling to challenge it with their own tablet. Like the iPhone, the iPad remained without a credible challenger for some time. In 2013, however, some tablets have fallen into the shadows as others have risen to meet the demands of eager Android users. A few from HiSense and Samsung stood out, but there were also companies that handed me three or four tablets that crashed or under performed. Breaking away from the traditional tablet market a bit was the Archos Gamepad which is a tablet built with gamers in mind, complete with built-in game pads.

Samsung and Toshiba also represented with slim notebooks while Asus won awards for killer cases. Lenovo was also on hand with their new PCs, which I was excited about since we have a new Yoga in the house and love it.

Smart Home Technology

If you watch the futuristic TV show, Eureka, like I do, you’ll be as excited as I am for the upcoming technology integration into home appliances that promises to bring us the smart home of our dreams. It still seems far beyond where it should be, but Whirlpool offered up a pretty cool showing of everything from a fridge that can stream your Pandora stations to the smart kitchen table seen at the end of the above video. The table can heat and cool your food and drinks with the help of interactive dinnerware and smart sensing technology.

Audio

Ferrari by Logic3

Wanna drive a Ferrari? So do I, but you can get a little closer with licensed Ferrari themed audio appliances and headphones from Logic3. The yellow Ferrari in their booth drew me in, but it was the audio components I hadn’t seen before. Logic3 was certainly not alone as high-end audio was a big part of CES. Spider International, Zipbuds and Eskuche also stood out among a large number of companies with headphones and ear buds to show off.

Cases, Accessories, Robots And Toys

Vuzix M100

CES has so many of my favorite things, including cases, accessories, robots, and toys. I saw flying helicopters (with and without video cameras), battle robots, Parrot AR.Drones, tons of iPhone and iPad cases and scores of portable speakers for use with your phone or tablet. One of the things that caught my eye was the Vuzix M100, which looks to give Google Glasses a run for the money.

Final Thoughts

If there’s one feeling you leave an event like this with, it’s the urge to sell all your technology and replace it with all the shiny toys and gadgets you’ve just walked away from. Although I didn’t see nearly all the stuff I wanted to, I talked to a lot of companies, so watch for loads of new reviews and subscribe if you haven’t yet. I also took a lot more photos, which can be seen on Facebook, including the booth babes in body paint that have been a topic of some controversy this year. While checking out the photos, Like or Share ones you like as a vote for me to talk to the product’s company about a review and the possibility of a giveaway.

I want to hear from you, too. What would you like to find out more about? Were you at CES this year? What did I miss that you want to share? Comment below.

Digital Musical Instruments

Is digital musical more than just a play button?

Once, if you went to a gig, you’d see people skilfully (or sometimes not quite so skilfully) play their instruments. But lately, it’s started to become just as likely to see someone back up the ukulele-playing frontman by pressing the play button on a laptop. Technical developments have always influenced the music industry, from the first mass-produced pianos to the electric guitar, but is programming some software on your computer the most innovative we can come up with now? Surely, there must be something more interesting out there?

Laser Harp
(laser-harp – Miemo Penttinen)

There is, but no one wants it. A quick search on the internet shows the huge amount of digital instruments that have been developed in the past twenty years. The Eigenharp, for example: an instrument that resembles an oboe, electric guitar, synthesizer, and drum kit all rolled into one, and is presented as the “most expressive instrument ever made.” Another new instrument is the Chapman stick, which, although not many people have seen it played on a stage or know its name, has actually been used on a fair few records to add texture to guitar, bass and drum sound. It looks like a body-less electric guitar, and is played by tapping with both hands instead of picking or strumming.

Another category is formed by various “sound machines” that seem to rely more on serendipity than skill. They turn images of kitchen appliances into melodies, or contain innovative interfaces that let anyone intuitively play a tune without ever hitting a false note. The mistake that these engineers seem to have made is that they focus on accessibility: they try to make instruments easier to learn so everyone can make music. But most people don’t want music to be simple. If they go see a band, they want to be impressed. Knowing it took years of practice to master those instruments is part of what makes music sound good.

Many videos prove that The Eigenharp and the Chapman stick don’t suffer from accessibility, but require lots of skill and practice. Unfortunately, there is another problem. Digital instruments sound the same. The sound of an electric guitar or bass is electronically amplified and transformed, but is still influenced by the type of wood of the body, the type of strings, different sets of pick-ups, etc. It may be electric, but it still produces an analogue sound, not a digital one. Digital music does not sound different if you use a different operating system or a different way of pressing the keys.

And this is where the laptop comes in. Because if an instrument sounds the same however you play it, why then put your time and energy in improving your expressive motor skills? Instead, you can focus on intricate compositions and harmonies that lie outside of your physical capabilities. And then skilfully press play.