Griffin makes its sleek programmable PowerMate knob wireless at CES (first take)

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Griffin debuted a new version of its PowerMate device, the PowerMate Bluetooth. The programmable spinning knob can turn up the volume, scrub videos, flip through documents, scroll through Web sites, and much more on your Mac. This $59.99 device goes on sale in the summer of 2014.

The sleek aluminum knob, first introduced in 2001, gets a stunning design update in 2014. Most noticeably, the PowerMate Bluetooth has no cables or wires, instead it uses Bluetooth 4.0 to connect with your computer. One of the biggest gripes about the earlier … Read more

The 404 1,344: Where we seem to have an invisible touch (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Man stabbed and robbed of Grand Theft Auto V.

- Why a disembodied finger can't be used to unlock the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5S.

- McAfee reveals the most dangerous celebrities of 2013.

- A Redditor in Turkey found the greatest Beats by Dre knockoff ever.

- Popular counterfeit site in China offers its own counterfeit Beats by Dre: the "Beating S-tudio headphone."… Read more

WoodTones: A new high for $100 luxury headphones?

I get to hear a lot of headphones. Don't be jealous, most of them are different shades of awful. Some are so bad I yank them off my head in a few seconds, some are just cheap copies of famous headphones, and some are built like crap. The Griffin Technology WoodTones jumped out from the pack: they're beautiful, they're comfortable, and they sound great.

True to their name they're available in Beech, Sapele, and Walnut. Handling these $99.99 headphones, I found the real wood earcups make for a very different feel than the more typical … Read more

Griffin iTrip FM Transmitter adds Aha by Harman integration

LAS VEGAS--We're not what you'd call fans of FM transmission technology, but Griffin's iTrip with app integration for Apple's iPhone is easily one of the best in that class. At CES 2013, Griffin and Harman announced Aha app integration with the iTrip Auto FM hardware.

Aha provides a way to to listen to your Facebook and Twitter feeds, audiobooks, podcasts, news, and other audio content -- Harman claims more than 30,000 stations are accessible by the app, with new stations being added constantly.

Now, in addition to using the iTrip app to scan for open … Read more

Draw on your iPad without touching the screen

The Light Marker for iPad is Griffin Technology's latest collaboration with Crayola to make more kid friendly products, and this gadget looks like it will be a hit.

For $29.99, you can get a glowing marker-shaped pen that interacts with your iPad's front-facing camera to let you freehand draw, paint, and color on your iPad screen. After touching the glowing tip of the pen to your front-facing camera you simply point the pen in the direction of the iPad (from a couple of feet away) to see a laser-pointer you use as your drawing instrument.

Directing the … Read more

Twitter suspends account briefly after U.K. pol attacks gay couple

A right-wing political figure in Great Britain has stirred up trouble for tweeting the address of a gay couple denied a single room in a bed and breakfast.

The Twitter account belongs to the controversial Nick Griffin, Chairman for the British National Party Chairman and Member of the European Parliament for the North West region. Griffin and other members of the extreme right-wing British National Party have ruffled feathers in the past with their open hostility toward gays, Muslims, and immigrants.

This time around, Griffin expressed his outrage over a case in which two men requested a single room with … Read more

Which of these Bluetooth speakerphones sounds the best? (comparison)

Most phones sold these days have a speakerphone mode. This setting is usually good enough for an impromptu hands-free call in a quiet office. However, when you get on the road in a noisy car, the phone's flaws are made apparent. For example, the built-in microphone can be less than ideal for canceling the levels of road and wind noise present in a car at highway speed, which leads to poor quality on the receiving end of your calls. I'm sure that you dislike repeating yourself to callers as much as I do, so let's look at how to improve call quality.

Visor-mounted Bluetooth speakerphones feature more sophisticated microphones with noise and echo-cancellation technology located closer to your head, which can dramatically improve sound quality. How much of an improvement should you expect? I've recorded outbound calls from five speakerphones (and my test phone's internal microphone) to demonstrate. … Read more

Missile-launching, app-controlled Helo TC Assault takes to the air

Griffin has had a lot of success promoting its Helo TC app-controlled toy helicopter with an entertaining YouTube video. Now the company has released an amusing sequel to kick off the availability of its $59.99 Helo TC Assault, which fires nonlethal RedEye missiles from two spring-loaded launchers built into the mini copter's fuselage.

Like several other products that have started to use touch-based smartphone apps for remotely controlling ground and water vehicles as well as flying craft, the Helo TC assault is compatible with iOS and Android smartphones along with the iPod Touch. You download a free app, then clip on and connect the included "flight deck" accessory to your device and you're ready to start flying. … Read more

Crave giveaway: DeskPets TankBots and a Griffin Helo TC

First off, congratulations to Andrew S. of Champaign, Ill., for winning last week's freebie, a copy of Nuance Dragon Dictate 2.5 for Mac.

Now for this week's prize, which is all about app-controlled fun. For starters, you'll get two cute little TankBots remote-controlled toy robots, which you maneuver with your iOS or Android device and a corresponding free app.

The DeskPets device uses its built-in accelerometer as a steering mechanism, allowing you to drive the TankBot around, navigating mazes, avoiding obstacles, chasing pets, and scaring houseguests.

You'll also score a Griffin Helo TC, a remote-controlled helicopter flown via iOS and Android devices and a free app that transforms the multitouch display into flight controls. The Touch-to-Fly mode uses the multitouch display to control Helo TC's throttle and joystick, while the Tilt-to-Fly lets users tilt the iOS device to move the helicopter forward, backward, and side to side (but hopefully not straight into your forehead). … Read more

Griffin's Twenty amps up AirPlay for Apple's AirPort Express

LAS VEGAS--Griffin's Twenty goes to 20--amps per channel, that is.

This funky Apple AirPort Express accessory basically turns any set of speakers into AirPlay-enabled speakers, or, as Griffin puts it:

"Twenty boasts a zero-configuration audio setup that streams Apple Lossless sound from iTunes or any other AirPlay-enabled app (Pandora, Spotify, etc.) to the user's speakers via a low-profile amplifier."

It's also worth noting that the Twenty comes equipped with a power connection and is wall mountable. It features a 2.1-channel sound system with 20 watts output per channel and also supports a powered subwoofer … Read more