Samsung's Shape M7 is a sweet-sounding Sonos alternative

As of CES 2014, seemingly every electronics manufacturer is taking a shot at wireless audio -- from Panasonic to Samsung to Bose. While Sonos and Squeezebox have been around since the start of the millennium, it took until the last year for the rest of the industry to decide that wireless, multiroom audio was worth developing.

The M7 ($350 street) is the first of Samsung's new Shape wireless audio platform, which will include a smaller streaming speaker (M5) , a surround-sound system, and a Blu-ray player. The Shape M7 is a well-built, versatile streaming speaker that sounds better than the … Read more

Fragment lets you use prismlike effects on your photos

Fragment is a specialized photo tool that lets you add prismlike effects to your images, with an elegant interface layout that leads you through the process.

This isn't your run-of-the-mill retro photo filter app; Fragment superimposes complex geometric designs on your images and changes them with prism- and mirrorlike effects for truly unique results. In other words, it's perfect for artsier photo projects. If you're looking for a regular photo-editing app, you'll need to look elsewhere. But for something different from the normal fare, Fragment is in a league of its own.

Fragment your photos As … Read more

Samsung Shape wireless audio platform expands with cheaper M5 speaker

The Samsung Shape wireless audio system was clearly designed to take on Sonos, but when it launched back in October, there was only a single-speaker option -- the Shape M7.

Now the company is expanding the Shape lineup, with the newly-announced M5 speaker. The M5 will cost less than the $400 M7 but offers similar functionality, using the same Wi-Fi based standard to stream music throughout your home. The M5 will also support the same set of streaming music services, which includes Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora, Rhapsody, and TuneIn, in addition to music stored on your PC and smartphone. For … Read more

Samsung takes on Sonos with the Shape Wireless Multiroom audio system

Wireless audio systems are notoriously tough to get right, and while many have tried (and some are still trying), Sonos is arguably the only company that has truly succeeded.

Samsung is the latest company to try its hand at the wireless audio market, with the newly announced Shape wireless multiroom audio platform. The system consists of two products, the M7 speaker and the Hub, which Samsung demoed at a private press event in New York.

The M7 speaker ($399) has a sleek, wedgelike shape, with a textured speaker grille and a plastic cabinet that's available in either a white … Read more

Review: Pass on Talking Flash Cards Toddlers since better tools aren't hard to find

Talking Flash Cards Toddlers from PapaTsoftware is a basic educational program aimed at a basic set of learners -- toddlers. While TFCToddlers has some advantages (mainly that it's free as well as ad-free) it also has some disadvantages -- chief among them the clipped, unnatural, and difficult-to-comprehend audio prompts voiced by Microsoft Anna.

TFCToddlers has a full-screen interface, which helps reduce distractions so your inquisitive youngster can focus on the cards. Unfortunately, program options such as Timer Value, Sound, and Case are also a part of the interface, just to the right of the main screen, or exactly where … Read more

Review: Shape Your Photo transforms your images with various shape overlays

Shape Your Photo offers only one way to edit and manipulate your images, but it does so in a very robust way, offering dozens of options for framing your images. As a result, the app is fun to use and has multiple reuse opportunities as you practice choosing new frames, changing border width, adjusting color, and changing how your images look in their frames.

With Shape Your Photo, you can start manipulating images as soon as it's set up. Just choose an image from your library or take a new one with your camera, select a frame from the … Read more

Prizefight: Fitbit Flex vs. Jawbone Up

Wearable tech is becoming a hotbed for innovation, but fitness tech has been the category that's opened people's minds to wearing tech 24-7. So we're taking the Fitbit Flex and the Jawbone Up and throwing them into the Prizefight ring!

The Fitbit Flex is the company's first fitness wristband with Bluetooth syncing. The Jawbone Up brings a unique design that's been fine-tuned after its initial release.

Both of them measure your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and quality of sleep with complementary apps.

Who will cross the finish line first? Will it be the … Read more

Review: Teach your children well with Baby Learns Shapes

Baby Learns Shapes is one of many high-quality apps produced in the Baby Bus line that your children will love.

The basic idea behind Baby Learns Shapes is easy to grasp. There are two games that involve matching a specific shape with a cutout. The second game is a matching game as well, but has a collection of objects on screen--children must choose all objects that match a shape shown to them in the game. So a circle might flash onscreen and the child must find all items that are round like a circle. This mechanic is so simple in … Read more

Review: Baby Learning Shapes HD teaches basic concepts to small children

Part of the Baby Bus suite of learning tools, Baby Learning Shapes HD focuses on teaching shapes to young children.

In the case of this app, the same basic Baby Bus interface greets you when the app is first started. This is one of the apps' biggest weak points as the screen is cluttered with menus, upgrades, and other apps that the developers entice you to download, not to mention ads that your children will almost certainly find a way to tap. Once you get past the home screen interface, however, the game is well-constructed and enjoyable. The animations are … Read more

Self-assembling foam chair expands like popcorn

This is a new kind of flat-pack furniture. There are no Allen keys, no screws, no scratching your head over Ikea-style instructions. Instead, Noumenon designer Carl de Smet's Memories of the Future furniture just needs a little loving warmth.

It's made from shape memory polyurethane (SMP), a material invented by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry that expands when heated. This allows de Smet to manufacture the chair and squash it down to 5 percent of its size for packing and shipping. When the owner gets it home, it blows up like a balloon with the application of a little heat. … Read more