Parrot Flower Power review: Can technology give you a green thumb?

Sure, you've heard of the connected home, but what about the connected garden? If you're someone who manages to always kill your plants, Flower Power, a new gadget from Parrot, might sound like just the thing. The $60 Bluetooth-connected device aims to turn your black thumb green by sending you daily push notifications about your garden's health. The small sensor can provide up-to-the-minute reports that can ensure everything from your potatoes to your petunias are getting exactly the right amount of sunlight, water and even fertilizer. So, is the tiny gadget what your garden needs?

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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not the largest plane in the world. Nor is it the fastest. It doesn't have on-board showers or full-size beds, nor can it lay claim to the greatest range or sleekest entertainment system in the air. But it will change the way we fly for decades to come. Boeing's latest commercial airliner is several feet wider and longer than the 767, the company's smallest wide-body (twin-aisle) jet, yet it's 20 percent more fuel efficient. Given that fuel is the single greatest operating cost for any airline, savings of that magnitude could return the industry to profitability, and perhaps even usher in lower airfares for passengers.


But while the 787's efficiency makes it an attractive option for airlines, it also serves up a more comfortable ride for passengers. We recently had a chance to fly on a domestic round trip between Tokyo and Okayama in Japan aboard an All Nippon Airways (ANA) Dreamliner -- one of the first two ever delivered. Quieter engines, dimmable windows, LED lights, huge overhead bins, an in-flight bar and on-demand entertainment enhance comfort, even during shorter flights, while higher humidity, a greater internal pressurization level and a gust alleviation system to reduce the effects of turbulence help improve the experience behind the scenes. Care to take a ride? Jump past the break to join us on board Boeing's brand new Dreamliner.

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Native Instruments' Maschine hardware/software bundle has become a staple in the beat-production market since its debut two years ago. Now at version 1.7, its performative and production capacities have grown to the point where dance pioneers like Underworld rely on it as a standard instrument much the way an electric guitar might be used by a rock band. Maschine Mikro is the first major hardware shift for the production platform: the newly-downsized controller easily fits into a backpack and comes in at $200 less than its bigger brother. What compromises come with the smaller footprint, and what will the price tag mean for people just getting starting in the groove production game? Read on, Lil' Dre, for our macro view of the Mikro.

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There are a lot of in-ear headphones out there these days, from the ones at the checkout line at the grocery store, to the ones that came with your iPod, to ones you'll need to take out a second mortgage to get your ears on. And most of them will do a decent job of pumping sound into your ears. Shure's SE215 earphones sit at that magical $99 price point -- not for everyone, but highly tempting to those committed to splurging a bit to replace those awful 'buds that arrived with their PMP of choice. So, how do these guys stack up against the immediate competition? Read on to find out what we heard.

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E-Lites Review
I have the unfortunate distinction of being what people disgustedly refer to as a "smoker." Personally, I prefer tobacco inhalation enthusiast -- but idiot works just as well. For more than half of the time I've been breathing under my own power, I've felt the need to periodically interrupt the life-giving flow of oxygen with a delicious, but cancer-causing mix of carbon monoxide, nicotine, and tar. Sure there are gums and patches and even pills that can supposedly help you kick the nasty habit but, I'm a twenty-first century man, and I need a twenty-first century solution. Enter the electronic cigarette. These "smokeless" nicotine delivery devices aren't exactly new, but we figured it was about time we put one through its paces and for me to try (yet again) to quit smoking. So, I grabbed a "pack" of the newest offering from British company E-Lites and spent a couple of weeks giving the latest trend in smoking cessation technology a go.

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Another day, another digital DJ interface: hardware controllers for Traktor and other mixing software occupy an expanding market, to be sure, and Pioneer's latest entry into the upmarket side of the fold is a beefy contender. Its differentiating features are distinctly vinyl-flavored: a pair of grooved, free-spinning jog-wheels with lighted time indicators and a pair of "needle search" touch strips. Are they forward-thinking innovations or just another cultural tip of the hat to an ancient medium? Click on to reveal our deepest thoughts on the gunmetal-tinted, Terminator-inspired* DDJ-T1.

*Terminator inspiration purely conjectural

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Hey, do you like things that sound good? That's funny, we do too. In a world jam-packed with mass-produced, perfectly adequate home-theater-in-a-box solutions, it can be really hard to differentiate between speaker solutions for your computer, TV, or stereo system. It takes a lot for small-scale, high-quality systems to stand out and justify their costs, especially when entire surround kits can be had for under a hundred bucks. But like that song said that one time, you can't put a price tag on love. Orb Audio's eponymously constructed speakers are little works of art that you can rearrange to suit your taste, budget, and decor -- but are they a good solution for you? It's a good question! Read on to find out just how the Orb family might or might not be the best decision you've ever made.

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The iPad's music player hasn't changed much since its debut, and unlike its desktop counterpart, it also lacks a built-in music visualizer for your mesmerization. Luckily, for the folks who are seeking ways to spice up their iPad music experience, you now have a new option: Planetary, by Bloom Studio. As you can tell by the name and the screenshot above, what we have here is a visually compelling app for exploring your tablet's music library. It's very straightforward: each artist or band is shown as a star, surrounded by albums in the form of orbiting planets, and then you have individual tracks displayed as moons orbiting each album.

During playback, each track leaves behind a trail on its orbit to indicate its play time, though you can hide the orbit lines (and labels) if you them too distracting. To choose other albums or artists, the good old pinch-to-zoom or the simple tapping on other 3D objects will move you between the moons and constellations, or you can just tap on the bottom-center button to jump straight to the letter selector for artists. Obviously, the former's more fun within the first few hours, but after awhile we found ourselves preferring the quicker option to skip the mellow animation. Head past the break for our full impression and demo video.

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Look at this guy! What a cutie! It's like Elvis' microphone cross-bred with some sort of weird alien USB bumblebee. Samson's Meteor Mic is unquestionably shiny, but its competition is an increasingly attractive bunch as well. Does Lil' Samson's beauty run only grill-deep? Read on to find out!

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This is a picture of a digital media player. It doesn't look quite like an iPod, though, does it? No hint of Zune here either, we don't think. In fact, it looks a lot like a CDJ unit, and that's for a reason: it acts just like a physical media-loving digital disc jockey's unit, but without the 5-inch slot at the front. Instead, it's got USB and SD ports up top. If you're a DJ, you might be familiar with the rest: navigate your folders to find a song, cue it up with the jog wheel, and mix it up. DJ Tech, which started operations in the US just last year, has the uSolo FX as its flagship unit -- does it compare to its competition from giants like Pioneer and Numark? Read on to find out!

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Since it first caught the world's attention at NAMM '09, Native Instruments' Maschine has made quite a stir in the world of electronic music production and performance. A modern re-imagining of Akai's legendary sampling sequencers, it takes the MPC's raison d'être -- recording and editing samples, sequencing samples to create tracks -- and uses it as the basis of a MIDI interface / software package that is both very familiar and quite unique. Maschine can run as a stand-alone application or integrate with your DAW (digital audio workstation) as a plug-in, and the company promises quite a bit as far as sound quality and improved workflow over the Akai's legendary instruments. But does it stack up? We've recently taken a good, hard look at the latest version of the software, 1.6 beta -- and we can't wait to share our thoughts with you. Check it out after the break.

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You know that feeling you get when you hop into a car you'll never be rich enough to own? It's full of fascinating technology, everything works great, it's solidly built, it definitely won't fit into the "compact" spots at 7-11 -- and it just doesn't care. If you're a DJ, entering the world of Pioneer's DJM-2000 is a little bit like that. Read on for our impressions of the multitouch-laced behemoth to see if it'll have you raving all the way to 2012.

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The iPad's gorgeous 9.7-inch display has been attracting attention for its musical potential, and the Djay app from Algoriddim has definitely contributed to some of the noise. The guys who brought a consumer-friendly DJing app to the Mac have gone ahead and ported it over to Apple's magical tablet, enabling pretty much anyone to get their shot on the decks. Does Djay for iPad live up to the hype? Read on past the break to find out.

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Think the iOS-versus-Android war is interesting? Out of sight to most of us, there's a knock-down, drag-out battle that's been waging for years between pro DJ software suites, and it's got all the drama and fanboyism of the dirtiest smartphone fight you've ever seen. In clubs, Serato's Scratch Live sees duty in plenty of booths, but Native Instruments' Traktor is as strong of a contender as it's ever been -- and for all-digital DJs who didn't cut their teeth on turntables, its long, rich list of features and capabilities makes it a strong, maybe even an obvious choice.

Traditionally, both Serato and Native Instruments have mostly left the hardware side of the equation -- digital mixers, controllers, and the like -- to other companies. In fact, Native Instruments even certifies a long list of equipment as being "Traktor Ready." But even in the best-case scenario, a third-party DJ controller connected to Traktor is just a glorified MIDI controller with a DJ-friendly layout. It doesn't integrate as tightly as it could, and no matter how fantastic the device might be, you're always making sacrifices -- it's nearly impossible with one of these third-party products to get your setup to the point where you never need to touch the computer.

And behold, that's where the Traktor Kontrol S4 comes in. Perhaps as a calculated response to Serato's Itch partnerships with Numark, Vestax, Denon, and Allen & Heath, Native Instruments finally decided to get its hands dirty and put together its own idea of what an all-in-one DJ controller should be. Does it deliver? Let's take a look.

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Developer Marco Arment recently wrote a quick script which crawls various app store reviews and analyzes the words that they contain. Unsurprisingly, there are some common words to be found among the best -- and worst -- reviews. For apps that get great (or five star) reviews, common words found include 'awesome,' 'perfect' and 'simple,' while the apps that got terrible reviews turn up things like 'waste,' 'money,' and 'crashes.' So, what can we gather from this? The obvious, of course: most people only know between six and 12 words.

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