Etón Corporation recently introduced the Rukus Solar, a portable sound system with solar panel that has the ability to stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device. The unit can also charge mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets.
The company claims the embedded 40 square-inch, high-efficiency solar panel can fully-charge the unit in six hours. The internal lithium battery, which is rated for over 8 hours of continuous use, can also be charged via the AC adapter.
An integrated USB port provides power for mobile devices, and a handy pouch provides protection for handheld devices in hostile environments, such as campgrounds or on the beach. The unit also has a 3.5mm auxiliary jack for music players that lack Bluetooth.
An integrated E-Ink display provides instant, easy-to-read information, including Bluetooth connectivity, solar charge indicator, and battery strength. Unlike traditional LCD screens, E-Ink displays information without draining the battery and is easily read in direct sunlight with a 180-degree viewing angle.
The unit has dual speakers, a 14-watt stereo amplifier, and weighs less than five pounds. The Etón Rukus Solar is available in white, black, or green and has an MSRP of $150. Each purchase of a Rukus Solar also includes a three-month subscription to on-demand music service MOG (a $30 value.)
The unit can be purchased from leading online retailers or at Etón's own website. For more information, visit Etoncorp.com.
Roku broadens its video streaming lineup
The Roku 2 XD HD streaming player is one of my favorite products, and now the company has broadened its offerings with the Roku Streaming Stick, a tiny wireless streaming player the size of a USB flash drive that enables a Roku Ready device to access more than 600 channels, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, HBO GO, and Pandora.
The Streaming Stick does away with the need for a set-top box, but to use it, your TV or DVD player must be equipped with a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) port. Few today are, but this will likely improve over time.
Despite its small dimensions, the stick has more memory than Roku's set-top boxes, plus dual-band Wi-Fi. The included gesture-driven gaming remote uses radio transmissions, rather than infra-red, which means it works, even if the MHL jack is on the rear of the TV set.
"Roku Ready" devices are certified to work seamlessly with the Streaming Stick. TV sets earning this distinction display a distinction logo on their packaging, but so far the lineup only includes models from Hitachi, Insignia (a Best Buy brand), and Apex Digital.
The Roku Streaming Stick is available for $99.99 from Roku, Amazon, other retailers. For more information, visit Roku.com.
Other news from Roku is an updated mobile app that includes Play on Roku, a new feature that allows you to stream photos and music wirelessly from a mobile device to a Roku streaming player. Roku's mobile app also lets you use an iOS- or Android-powered smart phone or tablet as a remote control for a Roku streaming player.
Photos streamed to a TV using Play on Roku can be viewed individually using a swiping gesture on the mobile device or in slide show-mode. When music is streamed using Play on Roku, a screen saver with the song title, artist, album name and cover art appears on the TV while the song plays. Photo slide shows can also be viewed with music streaming at the same time.
Play on Roku is compatible with MP3 and M4A audio files and JPG and PNG image files. Unlike Apple's Airplay for Apple TV, however, Play on Roku does not stream video -- not yet, anyway.
Roku also announced recently that VUDU is now part of the Roku platform. The on-demand video service, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart, claims to offer the world's largest selection of HD movies, streaming 1080p HD and rich Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. Movies on VUDU are available the same day they are released to DVD or Blu-ray and can be purchased or rented without a subscription. For more information, visit VUDU.com.