What a vacuum cleaner, wireless headphone and smart watch have in common

Click to play video: 'Vacuums, Fitbits and wireless headphones'
Vacuums, Fitbits and wireless headphones
WATCH: Steve Makris is back for another edition of Tech Talk, talking about a number of high-tech offerings including a FitBit smart watch and a new Dyson vacuum – Mar 27, 2016

What do a vacuum cleaner, a smart watch and a pair of headphones have in common?

They are our Easter Sunday giveaway prizes from Dyson, Plantronics and Fitbit on the March 27 Tech Talk segment! Needless to say, they also happen to be super hi-tech from industries that have one thing in common: Make it better, smarter and cooler. Make sure you tune in at 9:40 this Sunday morning to enter our give-away contest.

Small ball, big job

Let’s start with the new Dyson Small Ball Animal upright vacuum cleaner for $549.99. It’s small, easy to carry and stow, a heavyweight in performance, amazing suction, long reaching and ready to handle any vacuum task with included accessories.

One in eight Canadian households live in a condo or apartment. According to CBRE Group Inc., there were nearly 24,000 rental units under construction across Canada in the second half of 2015 – up 52 per cent from just the year before.

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Dyson Small Ball Animal – small size but big performance. handout

Here are some specs on the Small Ball Animal (not to be confused with other older Dyson “Ball” or “Animal” models):

  • 30 per cent less noise generated than Dyson’s previous small upright machine: acoustically re-engineered to reduce noise and improve sound quality;
  • 45 per cent longer cleaning reach than Dyson’s previous small upright machine: cable, wand and hose extend beyond 12 metres;
  • Instant recline body: the first Dyson vacuum with a magnetic catch. Lightly pull the handle and go;
  • Saves storage space: just 80.5 cm tall with the handle retracted. It needs 50 per cent less space to store than the full-size Dyson Cinetic DC77;
  • Ball technology: improved stability to manoeuvre easily around furniture, obstacles and into difficult places;
  • Hygienic bin emptying: quick, single-button cyclone release and bin empty. No need to touch the dirt;
  • Ultraviolet Cleanse, Air Multiplier and carbon fibre filament technology;
  • Comes with a full complement of accessories including a tangle-free turbine tool, a pet grooming tool, articulating hard floor tool and stiff bristle brush;
  • Five-year warranty: on parts and labour. Free, no hassle repair or replacement.

Pricey? Try finding a dissatisfied customer. It took 100 Dyson engineers over three years to develop and complete the Small Ball. Almost 89,000 hours of testing was completed on Small Ball’s motors before the final manufacturing run. Even small changes mean noticeable performance improvement – by changing the angle of the carbon fibre in the brush bar by 50 degrees (from 90 to 40 degrees), engineers have reduced the power draw by 10 per cent and increased carpet pickup.

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Worth every spec of dust your home won’t have.

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Cut the cord on music in hi-fi mode with any device

The second-generation Plantronics BackBeat PRO +, $299.99, wireless headphones include a Bluetooth adapter and up to 24 hours of charged-up performance. They are water resistant and work with PC/Mac and smartphones (it takes calls too).

Plantronics new BackBeat Pro + with extended Bluetooth adapter for the best in HiFi wirless music. handout

Note: not to be confused with the BackBeat Pro without the “+” designation. This model comes with a Bluetooth dongle adapter for devices like desktops and laptops that don’t have Bluetooth.

  • Connects to two devices: listen to music from your PC/Mac and take a phone call on your also-connected smartphone (iPhone/Android);
  • Active noise reduction, a big improvement over the previous Sense model;
  • Battery charge runs for 24 hours, or run on the included cable until the music stops;
  • Smart sensors – take them off your head and the music pauses, put them on to continue song or send calls to/from headphones;
  • They fold flat and fit neatly in the included quality ballistic nylon travel sleeve with cable storage;
  • OpenMic technology mode lets you hear what goes on around you while listening to music.

Plantronic free apps manage functionality and can help locate your missing headphones.

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Fitbit grows to a watch

The just-released Fitbit Blaze, selling for $249.99, takes up more room on your wrist but smartly competes with the slew of smart watches in the market today. Available at SportChek.

Fitbit Blaze is now a smartwatch with fitness in mind. handout

Sure, it’s a smart fitness watch with an emphasis on fitness, keeping Fitbit’s long tradition of industry-leading band designs we have been used to from Fitbit. Here are its top features:

  • Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate and simplified heart rate zones;
  • See detailed workout summaries on your wrist and your improvements over time;
  • See call and text notifications and calendar alerts on display;
  • Personalize Fitbit Blaze with different colours and materials for a wide range of looks;
  • Record running, cycling, cross training, weights and other workouts;
  • Track steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and active minutes;
  • Monitor your sleep automatically and set a silent alarm;
  • Get FitStar workouts right on your wrist, with step-by-step instructions that coach you through each move;
  • Automatically recognizes select activities and records them in the exercise section of the Fitbit app;
  • Adjust your volume and play, pause and skip songs from your mobile playlist;
  • Sync statistics wirelessly and automatically to Apple, Android and Windows devices. Smart;
  • It’s sweat-, rain- and splash-proof and far outlasts the competition with a battery life of up to five days.

Other tech news

  • Apple announced a smaller 9.7–inch 2048×1536 resolution iPad Pro, complementing the current – very excellent but massive 12.9-inch 2732×2048 – iPad Pro. A smart move from Apple to inject interest in the somewhat stagnant tablet category. It features four high-quality corner speakers, True Tone display for matching screen colour to your current light environment, fast processing/graphics on 4K video editing. I recommend the Smart Keyboard option. Available this week on March 31 with a starting price of $799 versus $1,049 for the 12.9-inch model.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 -inch is more affordable and goes to more places than sibling 12.9 inch small. Handout
iPhone SE 6, left, and 6 Plus. It’s pocket-friendly and loaded with iPhone 6S features. handout
  • Apple is set to capture the neglected quality small screen phone market with the four-inch iPhone SE, also available this Thursday.
  • It’s small but features the same speedy iPhone 6s A9 processor, 12 mepapixel camera, 4K video, classic but refined design, live photos feature, HD selfie mode with fast True Tone flash, touch ID and superfast combines WiFi – LTE mode. The SE is not like the original iPhone you passed on to your kids years ago and its price makes that point clear. Starting at $579 CDN with 16GB storage it’s about $200 cheaper than the iPhone 6S and $350 less than the 6s Plus starting prices.

Since my early showing of the upcoming LG G5, the Korean giant announced the availability of the much buzzed modular phone for April 8. Check my Canadian first showing of this unique phone with slide-out batteries and other accessories on Global Edmonton Sunday Morning News

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LG G5 with Friends accessories from left: the LG Rolling Bot, LG Cam Plus, H3 buds, LG HiFi Plus, LG 360 VR LG 360 Cam. handout

One unique feature of the LG G5 is its two rear lenses: one for normal wide angle shooting, the other for extreme 135-degree wide angle shooting. Although the super wide photos are reduced to 8 megapixel size, check out a recent test video I shot with an early version of the G5 on super wide mode, which can shoot 4K video:

Pre-sale orders are available now with incentives from cellco dealers like Rogers and Fido. Check yours out.

Follow Steve’s personal blog for more cool tech.

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