Aliph has unveiled the Jawbone Era, the next generation of the company’s high-end Bluetooth headsets. Not only does it boast the company’s noise-cancellation technology, but it is the first Bluetooth headset with an accelerometer.

The device, which will retail for $129.99, has a similar look and feel to the Jawbone Icon, but comes with a slew of new features. The most important one is NoiseAssassin 3.0, an update to its military-grade noise-cancellation technology. Aliph says the Era is also capable of playing HD audio. The rationale behind the improvement in sound technology is that people not only want to make calls with their device, but listen to music and their apps.

Now, users can simply tap the headset twice to answer and end calls, a feature the company calls “TapTap.” Shaking the Era four times, “ShakeShake,” will place the Bluetooth device into pairing mode.

These are the only accelerometer features available for the Jawbone Era currently, but Aliph promises to add more actions in the near future. While TapTap works almost flawlessly (we’ve been testing the device), the Era still comes with the Icon’s top button for answering and ending calls, as well as initiating voice commands.

Aliph has added a slew of new voice-to-text features to the Jawbone Era as well. Like the Icon, it can utilize MyTalk, which lets users access their contacts and even mobile apps through voice commands. Users can even post tweets via MyTalk, if they really want to tell the world about the massive traffic jam they’re stuck in.

New to the Era is the ability to upload one’s entire address book to the Era’s flash memory. The advantage of this feature is that this enables voice-based caller ID. When people receive a call from someone in their in contact list, the Jawbone Era will read the caller’s name, most likely in a human voice. That’s because Aliph has hired a female voice actor to read off thousands of common first and last names. In fact, the voice actor comes into the studio weekly and reads off the most common first and last names not yet added to Aliph’s system. For names Era doesn’t recognize, it falls back to a Nuance-based computer voice.

The device will ship on January 23 at AT&T, Best Buy and Apple stores nationwide and will come in four flavors: Midnight, Smokescreen, Shadowbox and Silver Lining.

We’ve had a chance to play with the device. Here are some photos we’ve snapped of it. Let us know, in the comments, what you think of the Era:

The Four Jawbone Eras

Jawbone Era From the Side

Jawbone Era: The Front

Jawbone Era: The Back

Jawbone Era Silver

Jawbone Era in Pairing Mode

Jawbone Era in Pairing Mode

Jawbone Era Retail Packaging

Jawbone Era VIP Packaging

This is the Jawbone Era packaging you’ll get if you order the device from the web.

Jawbone Era VIP Packaging

When you open the package…

Jawbone ERA VIP Packaging

…it opens up like a flower.

Jawbone Era

A close-up of the Era in the packaging

Jawbone Era Packaging

Here’s everything.

More About: accelerometer, gadgets, jawbone, Jawbone Era, Jawbone icon, MyTalk

IBM and ARM have announced that the two companies will be partnering on advanced semiconductor technologies designed to power the next generation of mobile gadgets.

The goal is to create 14nm chips that will be even more suited for better power management, longer battery life and better multimedia support.

This isn’t the first time that IBM and ARM have teamed up together, but this initiative is much larger in scope.

ARM will power the processor IP and it will be tuned to IBM’s manufacturing processes. This is a significant partnership for ARM, a company who licenses the technology used in practically every mobile device on the market.

The press release doesn’t give any information on when we can expect to see the fruits of this partnership but this is clearly the sort of technology that will be powering our devices in the future.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, filonmar

More About: arm, chipsets, IBM, microprocessors, mobile processors

In an early developer build of the upcoming iPhone operating system iOS 4.3, sleuths have found evidence that Apple might introduce a social media capability called “Photo Streaming.”

According to 9to5 Mac, hidden inside that updated file system is a “Media Stream” folder, containing a “Photo Streaming” folder that contains strong evidence that it will allow iPhone users to let friends subscribe to their collections of photos, perhaps residing in the cloud.

There’s further evidence of social media capabilities, including privacy preferences that would let the user decide who would be allowed to follow the streams, and graphics inside the operating system for the “Photo Stream” feature.

Beyond that evidence, when Gizmodo‘s Rosa Golijan was testing iOS 4.3 Beta 2, she found what she called “a mysterious error message” using the term “Photostream,” as you can see in the graphic above. She also noticed an invitation system, and a connection to Mobile Me.

This isn’t the first evidence found for social media features in this iOS 4.3 developer build. Just last week, a “Find My Friends” feature was revealed, along with AirPlay video support for third party apps and personal hotspot support for the iPhone.

It was unclear when any of these features would be appearing in Apple’s iOS.

Image courtesy of Gizmodo

More About: ios 4.3, iOS 4.3 developer build, iphone, Media Streaming, Photo streaming, social media, trending

Ahead of its earning call for the first quarter of fiscal 2011, Apple announced record-breaking earnings, led by strong sales of the iPhone, Mac and iPad product lines.

The iPad in particular had a phenomenal holiday season, with more than 7.3 million units sold. That’s an increase of more than 85% from the fourth quarter. Since launching the iPad in April 2010, Apple has sold almost 15 million iPads.

The success of the iPad hasn’t cannibalized Mac sales — to the contrary, Apple had its best quarter ever for the Mac, selling 4.19 million units in the December quarter.

Apple: We’re Not Sitting Still

As we saw at CES, tablet fever has taken over the consumer electronics industry, with would-be iPad competitors appearing at every turn. Everyone (and we do mean everyone) has a tablet or is working on a tablet.

The fact that Apple has established a user base of nearly 15 million in just nine months makes Apple a formidable competitor in this emerging space.

For comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab — one of the few high-profile non-Apple tablets to hit the retail market before the end of 2010 — managed to sell more than a million units in its first 60 days. By comparison, Apple is averaging a little more than 2 million iPad units per month, with that figure rising every month.

We should note that these sorts of leads are not insurmountable. After all, Android as a device category is now eclipsing iOS in terms of sales. Still, individual phone models from companies like HTC, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung aren’t matching the figures Apple continues to turn out with the iPhone.

Apple COO Tim Cook (the man currently taking over day-to-day operations for Steve Jobs) commented on the current competition during Tuesday’s earnings call. Cook made it clear that Apple doesn’t believe the Android-based tablets on the market are competition. He called these devices “scaled up smartphones” and continued to opine that he sees them as “bizarre product[s]” that don’t offer the “real tablet experience,” and he asserted Apple’s belief that it has a “huge, first-mover advantage.”

Cook acknowledged that future tablets running Google Honeycomb or from RIM may provide some competition, noting that Apple will “assess [the competition] as [it is] coming;” Cook made it clear that Apple isn’t sitting still.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted that 80% of the Fortune 100 is either deploying or piloting the iPad in the enterprise. That’s up from 65% in the fourth quarter of 2010.

With this level of penetration on the consumer and business side, unseating Apple in this space won’t be easy. It will be interesting to watch what Google, Microsoft, RIM and HP do in the future.

More About: android, apple, apple earnings call, iOS, ipad, sales, tablets

We’ve been expecting HP to show off at least one webOS-based tablet at a February 9 event. Now it looks like Engadget has gotten some leaked renders and marketing materials that show off some of the company’s tablet strategy.

When HP acquired Palm last year, it was clear that the company saw plans for webOS beyond just the smartphone. The company affirmed its plans to enter the tablet space in July.

Now Engadget is publishing information from a “trusted tipster” that sheds some light on HP’s plans.

The tipster reveals that HP is planning not one, but two tablets: a 9-inch model codenamed Topaz and a 7-inch model called Opal.

The rendered images Engadget obtained show off the Topaz, and the unit looks like a cross between an iPad and a Palm Pre. From the renders, it looks like the device will not have any physical buttons (capacitive perhaps) and will include a front-facing camera.

The render also shows off what looks like webOS on the device itself. Perhaps more than any other mobile OS, we expect webOS to have the easiest transition to larger-sized devices, so this makes sense.

While specifics like price and specifications weren’t revealed, Engadget did get a hold of what looks like an internal slide with a tentative release date slated for this September. This slide was for the Opal, so perhaps HP will be releasing the Topaz tablet more quickly.

Our only concern for HP is that announcing a device more than six months in advance, especially given the competition from — well, everyone — could wind up putting the company at a disadvantage.

Although webOS is better designed to scale to multiple device sizes than many of its competitors are, the lack of brand recognition in the smartphone market — when compared to iOS, Android and even BlackBerry — may limit some of the initial customer base.

We still think the potential for a webOS tablet is immense and we look forward to seeing what HP unveils next month.

Image courtesy of Engadget

More About: HP, hp palm, palm, tablets, webOS, webos tablet

This pocket-sized rechargeable speaker attempts audio alchemy, trying to create a big sound with a package about the size of a deck of cards. Does it work?

WOWee ONE Slim is a rechargeable speaker, the company’s second product that attempts this trick, and it’s even smaller than the original WOWee ONE Power Bass Speaker released early last year. The idea is to stick this smartphone-sized device against a flat surface, and it’s supposed to deliver “room filling sound.” Because it costs $90, our expectations were high.

It’s extremely easy to use. I plugged it into my iPhone 4′s earphone jack, and its blue power indicator immediately lit. There is an onboard speaker that handles the midrange and highs, and as soon as I placed the device on a glass door here in the office, there was a noticeable increase in bass response. While it sounds much better than the iPhone speaker, I wouldn’t call it “room-filling.”

As you can see the video below, the speaker won’t stay attached to any vertical surfaces. (Update: Its manufacturer told me after my review was published that it’s not designed to stick to vertical surfaces as we tested it — the company’s offering an accessory called the “WOWee hug” that can hold the speaker in place properly against a wall.) Its gel backing isn’t strong enough to hold its weight, so you’ll have to set it on a table if you want to listen to it for more than a few seconds. I will say one thing, the device is not the least bit fragile. It survived a couple of hard drops to a wood floor and was no worse for wear.

An interesting characteristic is the different sounds the speaker produces when pressed against various surfaces. I found it sounded best and warmest with wood, but large glass surfaces spread its sound out more for a equally pleasant effect. When pushed against drywall surfaces, its bass was more boomy.

The WOWee ONE Slim rechargeable speaker is fun to play with, and if you like to take your tunes on the road and travel light, it’ll let you listen to music with a better fidelity than you’ll get from your smartphone’s speaker.

Or, you could save yourself $90 and use earphones.

WOWee ONE Slim

It’s about the size of a typical smartphone.

WOWee ONE Slim

Here it is compared to my iPhone 4. As soon as you connect the WOWee Slim to your music player’s earphone jack, it turns on and starts playing.

WOWee ONE Slim

That gel on the back is just not sticky enough to hold the device up, even on glass.

WOWee ONE Slim

Charge it up via its USB port, connects to any music player.

WOWee ONE Slim

The one’s white, you can also get it in shiny black.

More About: audio reinforcement, hands-on, iphone accessories, music, rechargeable speaker, review, sound, speakers, WOWee ONE Slim

Look out everyone, because there’s a gang of miniature, four-rotor electric helicopters that’s figured out how to work together and build a simple structure. This could be just the beginning of what they can do.

Those clever programmers at the GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) Lab at the University of Pennsylvania have made these quadrotor helicopters autonomous, teaching them how to work together while building things. Heck, most people can’t do that.

The robot builders simply tell the copters which structure to build, and then, according to a GRASP technician, the quadrotors cooperatively “figure out the assembly plan and then build it.” The flying bots even have the ability to go for another attempt if the magnetic parts don’t snap together quite right.

Even though the clever programmers have created simple modules for the helicopters to construct, nevertheless, this is the first glimpse of cooperative flying robot construction on a larger scale. Imagine if these mini copters were scaled up to 100 times their size, putting together skyscrapers, bridges, or the components of Skynet.

Experimentation with these brainy choppers has been going on for a long time. When we saw videos of the quadrotors performing autonomous feats early last year, we were immediately impressed. They were downright aggressive, flying through thin slots and moving hoops with spectacular precision. A few months later, they got even more sophisticated. Now, they’re getting downright scary.

What about it, readers? Should we be afraid yet?

[Via Hacked Gadgets]

More About: Autonomous, GRASP, quadroter, robotics, Skynet, University of Pennsylvania

Let’s face it, unless you’re an astronaut or a rock star, work is pretty darn dull most of the time. Don’t despair though, as technology can help fill the gaping void of boredom that being stuck in the office creates.

Thanks to the wonders of USB gadgetry you can cram your time at work chock-full of fun, frolics and laughter, making your cubicle the cool place to hang.

We’ve selected 10 excellent examples of USB desk toys and gadgets for your perusing pleasure, so take the first step to banish boredom in your workplace today by having a little look below, and let us know your own favorites in the comments.

1. USB Whack It

A modern take on the vintage arcade classic, USB Whack It is a great way to take out all your pent up frustration in the workplace.

Cost: $20

2. Tengu

Tengu lights up and lip syncs to audio with a variety of facial expressions to amuse you and your fellow cubicle-dwellers.

Cost: $30

3. USB Touch Drums Set

Although desktop drumming with pencils can also do the trick, why not try rocking out on this small-scale USB-powered drum set instead?

Cost: $22

4. USB Plasma Ball

A tiny model of the Tesla original, this plasma ball will add a mesmerizing dash of science to your desk. It’s educational and fun!

Cost: $12

5. Riff Rocker

If drums aren’t your thing, then how about the Riff Rocker? This pocket-sized guitar is compatible with sites like JamLegend, meaning you can enjoy some Guitar Hero-style gaming in the office.

Cost: $14.95

6. Tiny USB Rechargeable Helicopter

We can only begin to imagine the fun flying missions you and your colleagues can come up with using this mini chopper. Just don’t get caught.

Cost: $44

7. USB Missile Launcher

Office warfare can bond co-workers together, boost morale and lift spirits. It can also poke your eye out, so watch where you point that thing.

Cost: $49

8. USB Robot Owl

A very “kawaii” Japanese import, the USB Robot Owl doesn’t do much (he blinks his eyes and turns his head from side to side), but he looks so darn cute doing it, he’ll more than earn his perch on your monitor.

Cost: $19.99

9. USB Basketball Desktop Dunk

Complete with a scoreboard and cheering crowd sound effects, we think a desktop one-on-one should be the way all office disputes are settled.

Cost: $19.99

10. Pop-up Pirate USB Hub

Finally, another retro classic gets the USB treatment. You know that filing can wait when there are pirates to be popped.

Cost: $63

More Gadget Resources from Mashable:

5 Beautiful Keyboards to Spice Up Your Boring Desk
5 Hip Bluetooth Headsets
6 Great Gloves for Touchscreen Gadget Lovers
5 Stylish Computer Mice for the Design Aficionado
Especially For You: 8 Great Gadgets You Can Personalize

More About: gadgets, games, office gadgets, toys, usb gadgets

This week, I had a chance to review the Nomad Brush, a beautiful, handcrafted stylus designed for painting and sketching on the iPad.

The stylus feels and looks like an actual paintbrush, complete with a 5.5-inch wooden handle and a mix of natural and synthetic fibers selected for their conductive properties. When I first came across this demo video of the stylus last week, I was skeptical that the iPad‘s touchscreen surface would be able to pick up the stylus’s soft bristles, but I’m happy to report that the iPad easily responds to the touch. It allows for free-flowing brush strokes much like a real paintbrush, and an elegance of line I was previously unable to achieve using my fingers or a regular stylus.

Since we’ve only used the brush for a day, we can neither guarantee that it will work a year or even a month from now with heavy use, nor whether the bristles will hold their shape. (As a side note, we’re still looking for a way to keep those bristles intact while traveling; I plan to use my standard canvas brush holder in the meantime.) Given how much we plan to use the thing, we should have a pretty good idea of how it holds up by the time the brush goes on sale in early February.

The Nomad Brush was conceived by Don Lee, a 39-year-old architect based in New York. After 14 years as an architect, Lee decided to take a year-long break from his profession “to rejuvenate [his] creative side,” he explains.

As part of the rejuvenation process, Lee took up sketching on the iPad. “The finger is by far the most efficient way to navigate the iPad, but when it came to sketching, I just couldn’t get used to it,” Lee says. “As a problem solver by nature, I started to tinker and found a solution, and that’s how the Nomad Brush came about.”

At launch, only a black version with a 5.5-inch handle will be available for purchase, followed by a version with a white handle. In the future, Lee plans to create additional versions with varying brush head sizes and handle lengths. Pricing has not yet been disclosed, though given that each stylus is hand made, we expect it will be a bit pricier than the typical stylus.

In the meantime, check out our hands-on video below.


More Gadget Demos from Mashable:

HANDS ON: 10 New Tablets Ready to Challenge the iPad [VIDEOS]
Hands On With Vizio’s Android-Powered Devices [VIDEO]
DEMO: BlackBerry Playbook Tablet [VIDEO]
Hands On With Vizio’s Android-Powered Devices [VIDEO]
Nintendo 3DS: Hands-On and First Impressions [PICS]

More About: apple, demo, Gadget, hands-on, ipad, ipad stylus, nomad brush

Who’s up for a friendly game of Nike+ Tag? Let the games begin, Nike+ GPS users — there’s an update now available for your iPhone app, letting you compete against your friends.

It’s available for download from the iTunes App Store as a free update to existing Nike+ GPS app users, or it’ll cost you $1.99 for a new purchase.

While there’s no physical tagging going on, the object of the game is like you might expect: Don’t be “it.” Runners compete against each other, and whoever runs the slowest, the shortest distance, or starts running latest in the day is designated as “it.”

How does it work? Nike explains it:

  • • After a run, a Nike+ GPS App user is prompted to Play Tag
  • • The user can invite – or “Tag” – as many Nike+ friends and email contacts as they choose
  • • The user can customize the message that goes to friends
  • • The user sets a game of Tag based upon either distance (person who runs shortest distance is IT), time (person who runs for the shortest amount of time is IT), or order (person to run last is IT).
  • • Tag begins once the user invites his/her friends
  • • Once Tag begins, the game will continue until each runner has taken part, or up to three days, whichever comes first
  • • The Nike+ GPS App tracks each time a runner is IT and NOT IT
  • • If no one other than the initiator takes part, he/she is not IT, the game just dissolves after three days

Unfortunately, if you’re a Nike+ iPod user using a watch or shoe sensor, you won’t be able to play this new game of Tag. According to Nike, the two apps were developed by completely different teams, and they use different technology. Unlike the Nike+ iPod system, the Nike+ GPS software doesn’t use that sensor that fits into a shoe or is built into watch, but uses the iPhone’s GPS to gauge location, speed and distances.

Take a look at the cute video Nike produced in association with this app:

More About: app store, apps, Fitness Apps, free downloads, iphone, Nike+ GPS, Nike+ Tag, Tag, trending, Update