Kris Holt

About the Author Kris Holt


Tech Buzz

Gadget Ogling: Note-Taker Triumphs, Classic Nokia Returns, and Audio Thrills

Transcribing speech is tedious, but until voice recognition truly can handle all manner of accents and verbal tics, it’s a necessary evil. Hands up, everyone who thinks I wouldn’t want a machine to take care of that for me. No one? Good. Titan Note records and transcribes audio, with a particular trick up its sleeve: It can discern different speakers when it’s transcribing.

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Gadget Ogling: Gaming’s New Virtual Reality Frontier and Personal Cargo Robots

Regular readers will know that I’ve played games my entire life. I hold deep reverence for the care and attention that go into creating these experiences, and I’ve rarely met a game I didn’t want to conquer. Yet I am nervous about virtual reality. I’ve tried it and found those disorientating worlds difficult to handle, though I suspect that over time I could grow more accustomed to it.

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Gadget Ogling: Floating Speakers, Neckbrace Audio, and Charming Caffeine Fixes

LG features twice in this edition of the column with two very different but similarly strange speakers. The “Levitating Portable Speaker” has as descriptive and accurate a name as the “Small Transparent Speaker” from last month’s edition of this column. You can call it “PJ9” if you prefer the duller moniker. Yes, through the magic of electromagnets and a base station, this speaker will levitate and pump out audio in every direction.

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Gadget Ogling: Heightened Hearing, Toasty Toes, and Glass Speakers

Bose’s latest earbuds are designed to help you tune in to the specific sounds you want to hear. Hearphones are a sort of blend of noise-cancelling earbuds and hearing aids. There are several presets in the app, with names like “focused conversation,” “gym,” “airplane” and “television.” You can opt to crank up the volume on all sound from the world around you or turn it down.

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Gadget Ogling: Rolling Records, Designing Lawns, and Placated Phones

RokBlok is a portable record player without a turntable. It’s a block that dashes around the top of your records, and uses both its needle and built-in speaker to soundtrack your day. All you need to operate it are your records and a flat surface. If you’d like higher quality audio, you can connect it to your Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It’s designed with protecting your records in mind.

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Gadget Ogling: Smarter Slumber and Pod-Free Coffee

In a previous column, I revealed how terrible a sleeper I am. My mattress is old, and there’s a sizable dent on my side of the bed. It’s probably time to find a new mattress, so perhaps it’s time to consider one that connects with the rest of my home. Eight’s smart mattress gives you a little more incentive to get out of bed, as you can set up a string of IFTTT recipes to improve your morning routine.

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Gadget Ogling: Big Bendy Screens, Chatterbox Robots, and TV in the Cloud

I’m at long last about to start setting up my new home office. Goodbye, Ikea dining table. Hello, fancy new desk. When I actually have my new setup, I’d like to have a monitor at long last to complement my laptop. AOC’s latest is under serious consideration. The AG352QCX is a 35-inch, curved behemoth with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 input, VGA, DVI, audio in and out ports, and DisplayPort 1.2.

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Gadget Ogling: Mac’s Back, Nintendo Returns, and Huawei Goes to the Edge

Apple has unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, giving the company’s core laptop its first full refresh in a few years. The design has metal on all sides, along with a Force Touch trackpad double the size of previous versions. There’s a customizable OLED touch strip above the keyboard that responds to gestures and taps, useful for fast access to emoji or secondary controls within an app.

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Gadget Ogling: Magnificent Mics, Intriguing E-Ink, and Compact Computers

I’ve tried dipping my toes into the world of podcasting with a friend this year. We haven’t found it easy to get together to record, but for the two trial runs we’ve had, I bought a Blue Snowball mic. I’m very pleased with the sound quality, so I’m fairly certain I’d be happy to have Blue’s latest microphone, Raspberry. It’s a gorgeous, portable little thing.

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Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way

Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.

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Gadget Ogling: Driving Partner, Hydration Station, and Flying Grabbers

After a bad experience when I was first behind the wheel as a teenager, I’m only just now learning to drive, more than a decade later. My partner and I are going through the school together, and when asked about our dream vehicles in class, she replied that she’d love a self-driving RV. Her wish eventually might turn true with a device that grants vehicles more autonomy.

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Gadget Ogling: Smart Desks, New-Wave Gaming, and Roaming Routers

After a long, laborious process and a lot of scraping paint splotches from the floor, the office space in my new apartment is ready for me, and I will soon no longer need to write this column from my kitchen table. So, I’m in the market for a desk.
With my nascent interest in standing desks, the Gaze Desk seems a decent option. It switches between standing and seated modes with a button press.

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Gadget Ogling: Musical Pizza Boxes, Backup Backpacks, and Tattooing Robots

Call it a gimmick, but I’m very much into the idea of having a pizza box that doubles as a turntable. Pizza Hut partnered with Novalia to make the box, which includes pitch and volume controls, a mixer, and touch-sensitive decks. Using printed electronics, DJs can crossfade, rewind and even scratch. The box pairs with smartphones and computers using Bluetooth and works with DJ software.

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Gadget Ogling: Levitating Smart Things, Making WiFi-Perfect Wine, and Staying Safe While Solo

Lift is an antigravity charger for Apple Watch and Pebble. The charger is wireless, so there’s almost no clutter involved — except, I suppose, when you have to charge the charger. The watch wraps around a portable battery pack, which the base keeps elevated using magnets. There’s a Pro version of the base, which you can use as an iPhone or iPad stand and charger.

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