Thursday, December 27, 2007

Toshbia HD-A3, HD-DVD for under $200

Toshiba is dead set on HD-DVD overtaking the HD video market, and with their HD-A3 720p/1080i HD DVD Player they’ve won a major battle in the format war; at least in terms of number of players actually in homes. Toshiba would seem to be on top, ranking number two on Amazon’s best sellers list for electronics (coming in just under the nano).

Toshiba, back in November, released this compact player with a much higher list price. The price has dropped quite dramatically since its release, making this disc jockey one hot deal. Don’t be fooled into thinking you will be getting substandard equipment just because it’s priced so affordably.

With the HD-A3, looks and functionality meet and make sweet music together. Sporting rounded edges and a glossy front panel, this debonair disc player produces a 720p/1080i picture resolution and Dolby TrueHD sound via HDMI.

Sound processing is definitely a strong selling point, the advanced sound processing adds to your immersive experience. These on board sound processors also give you the higher quality sound without having to upgrade your receiver, (just as long as you have HDMI on the receiver).

The HD-A3 handles your older DVD library by up-converting those titles to either available HD resolutions. Toshiba HD-A3 delivers picture clarity, vivid color, and a bevy of Dolby sound options...with style. Still not convinced? Check out the reviews on Amazon.

Read more!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Slingbox Solo Keeps you in the Loop

Sling Media's Slingbox SoloAre you a media junkie? Chances are if the idea of going without your favorite television programming sends you into a tizzy than you answered yes. So, what are folks like you to do if you’re traveling or just not around the house to get your media fix? Well, Sling Media's Slingbox Solo is sort of like an intravenous media drip that helps you maintain your composure by satisfying that insatiable media appetite you’ve developed. It’s an inexpensive device for broadcasting your DVR recordings, satellite/cable transmissions, or any of your media playing devices over the internet, using your home network.

Basically, you plug in your selected fountains of media, setup the Slingbox solo on your network (via Ethernet only), then go to your Slingbox home page on your laptop or Palm/Windows smart phone. On this webpage you will find a remote control which allows you to access the devices you’ve set up to interface with Slingbox. It’s TV on the go.

The only trouble is the Slingbox is a control freak. If you change channels on your web interface…the channel at home changes as well. The person actually sitting in front of the TV has no control over the channel selection. This slight setback is easily overcome by using the Slingbox on the cable or satellite receiver that is less used by those that would be home.

The other limitation of not being Wi-Fi capable is somewhat unforgivable considering most users don’t have their broadband modems in the same room as their home entertainment centers. Although, with a bit of shuffling this could be overcome this too. You could stow you modem near the TV and then plug the Slingbox into the Ethernet port of a Wi-Fi router, of course you’d connect the modem to the router too. Then, assuming your computer is Wi-Fi ready, the router would send the broadband signal to your computer.

These slight workarounds are a fair trade, the Slingbox solo it’s inexpensive and really cool. I mean who, in their right mind, could stand to be without “their stories” just because they’re on a European excursion?

Read more!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Techie Tots Rejoice this Season

So you’re three and a half going on thirteen. What are you hoping that synthetic beard wearing jolly man, whom you met at the mall, leaves behind this year? Why, digital cameras, digital picture frames, laptops, and other gadgetry...the same things your parents are hoping St. Nick brings them, duh.

Manufactures of tot friendly editions of popular adult toys, sometimes the only difference being they have Nickelodeon characters all over them, are hoping to outsell sell wagons, Matchbox cars, and other low tech favorites.

I’m all for kids learning computers and technology early. I would most definitely buy a “my first” digital camera for a young one.

Though, you would think, in a day where childhood obesity rate are rocketing wagons would be preferable to toys that teach more sedentary behavior. Although, setting a healthy example by not being completely sedentary ourselves has much more to do with reversing this trend than not buying tech toys, that and getting the wagon too.

Read more!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Denon’s Compact Networked Audio Systems the S-52 and S-32

These new Denons have put compact, full sound, digital source audio in its place…that place being wherever you want it to be. Their compact size and wireless capabilities, give you this new found freedom to setup these Denons just about anywhere there’s an outlet. Denon’s reputation for innovation is well founded, and their concept of ‘Whole Home Audio’ really comes to fruition with the S-52 and S-32. These dapper Dons of digital audio assert their impressive array of features from the moment you fire them up.

The new systems can do much more than play Wi-Fi radio, which they do. The S-52 and S-32 are networked audio systems, meaning they can connect to anything on your network, wirelessly, and play MP3, WMA, AAC, and WAV file formats from these networked devices. Don’t have a wireless network? It doesn’t matter; you can plug either of these Denons into your network via Ethernet. This will limit you a bit, but cords tend to do that.

Of course, they’re iPod ready via built in, drop and rock, iPod dock. Adding to ease of use is the multi-function scroll wheel; this ensures quick and intuitive navigation of the menu, music libraries, and streaming music channels. Even if you haven’t fully embraced the digital music revolution, yet, Denon gives you plenty of options.

Rhapsody digital music service has struck a deal with Denon to offer a no credit card required 30-day trial. Rhapsody is a renowned web service offering unlimited access to an extensive music catalog. If you have trouble pinning down exactly what you’re in the mood for, Rhapsody channels offers you a continuous stream of professional programmed music, which is sure to please.

Additional performance offered with the pricier S-52 includes, a slot loading CD player capable of decoding most popular audio formats, a built in HD radio tuner, and an XM mini tuner. These pale in comparison to the usability offered with the addition of a USB port which you can connect flash drives, MP3 players, hard drives, or any USB mass storage devices to the player. These mini media moguls are out now but going fast. Snap yours up today.

Read more!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Robotic FX Booted, iRobot Back in the DOD's Good Graces

Many moons ago, we reported on the awarding of a lucrative government contract, that iRobot thought it had on lock down, to RoboticFX. Losing the DOD contract worth $279.9 mil was too big of a blow for iRobot to take lying down. They sued RoboticFX for patent and copyright infringement…RobotixFX freaked and started destroying evidence that supported iRobot's assertion.

The Feds were hip to this game and collected evidence of RoboticFX's scramble to destroy documents, trade secrets most likely gained through corporate espionage. They seized shredded documents dumped in clandestine dumpsters and hard drive/floppy disk erasers from the homes of those involved in the cover up.

The judge in the case filed an injunction against RoboticFX citing that their CEO “Jameel Ahed's admissions that he'd destroyed evidence ‘profoundly undermined’ his credibility”, what else are you going to say when they've got you on videotape. It was obvious that iRobot would win the case, so the judge wanted to stop RoboticFX from making any money from stolen trade secrets.

Now, we all know how much the Pentagon hates lairs and cheats...'sure', anyhow they gave RoboticFX the boot and iRobot has regained their former glory. Their brawny battalion of 3000+ bomb disarming robots will be tooling around airports and battlefields in no time.

..via Engadget/via Yahoo..

Read more!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blackberry Owners Get Even More Spoiled

Mapquest Navigator 5.0As if owning one of these objects of an email addict’s desire wasn’t pampering yourself enough, Mapquest has launched their newest application, Navigator 5.0, which turns your GPS enabled BlackBerry into a multi-function personal navigation device. Now, you never have to look up from you phone again. Seriously though, for a small monthly subscription fee you get all the features of a stand alone PND, with one big advantage, no extra device to lug around.

Mapquest Navigator 5.0 enables your Blackberry GPS to track your position on a 3-D map, give voice guided turn-by-turn directions, provide real-time traffic reports, watch gas prices, and bestow city specific restaurant information from AOL. If this concept gets you excited, act fast, if you sign up by the end of the year you get a promotional rate. If you're an owner of a Windows based smartphone don't throw it out just yet, Mapquest will be adding support for other phone models throughout the new year.

Read more!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kindle Hack...Out Already?

Quicker than a cat in Chinatown...Amazon's dreams of proprietary content distribution for the Kindle dissolved. Yesterday the announcement came down the wire that Igor Skochinsky, an agitator of the highest intellect and all around smartypants, has deciphered the algorithm that Kindle uses to encode their .azw files (amazon's own little format and modified form of Mobi files). Now Mobi files can be turn into Amazon files...

but the DRM info was still blocking the files from being read by Kindle. He figured this out too. Igor has done us the honor of writing a post with a link to the Python script that handles this conversion process. He tried downloading content from sites like Fictionwise, and it apparently worked out. No doubt, Fictionwise and other sites are gearing up to tap the market of hackers by supporting the hack at their sites. ..Via Engadget.

Read more!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Motorola Ming 2

This new sequel from Motorola is a bit of a mystery. Their machete of mass communications is also a multimedia assassin, rumored to have an impressive array of gadgetry. Ming 2 is a…3.2 MP camera, LED Flashlight (to aid autofocus), GPS, Wi-Fi enabled, talking dictionary, Linux based…phone. These images are mock ups of the proposed phone design. The rendering shows the large screen and clear plastic flip, same as its older sibling. Supposedly, these will hit selves in Asian sometime around February next year.
Read more!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Braun Multiquick System

A Braun Multiquick Handblender system with its multitude of attachments is the answer for having too little time or kitchen space to prepare healthful tasty meals. Quick is the operative word here, prep work doesn’t have to be a long and tedious affair. Braun makes it easy to prepare fresh meals. (You know you shouldn’t be known by name at the local fast food spot). Expand your kitchen repertoire while exuding modernity and style. Braun blenders are a practical addition to any culinary arsenal. These sleek, small, and powerful hand blenders double as myriad of kitchen utensils. A whisk and versatile chopper are supplied with the hand blender, but also available is the vacuum packing system.

Vacuum packing adds another 3-4 days of longevity to your food stores. The word economical comes to mind, and for a single person this is great because hardly anything is packaged to serve just one, so there are always leftovers to contend with. Braun offers four different sized containers that will fit most any leftover. The Braun fresh ware containers can also prepare food by vacuum infusing marinades deep into meats or veggies. If you’re looking to improve your diet as part of your new year’s resolutions this is perfect thing to help you to that end. Marinate on that for a while.

Read more!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Alpine Type-X: Upgrade or Absurd?

Alpine announced last week it would begin shipping the newest upgrade to their mobile speaker lineup, the Type-X Pro and Reference Speakers. Alpine’s combination of high output fiberglass cones and ring radiator tweeters, on the Pro series, are aural assassins of the highest caliber. Even so, the price jump is a bit hefty from its predecessor with an MSRP of $650 (but we'll have them for way less). This, Type-X, upgrade includes smaller neodymium magnets. So, if you’re shelling out multiple Benjamins for these fancy cans, anyway, you don’t to have to drop a bunch more cash on car interior customization just to fit them in your ride.

Type-X Pro
One thing you might want to customize is the speaker tuning. The included interchangeable ‘Phase Link’ modules are setup to cope with the most popular speaker placements, and ring radiator tweeters allow the tweeters to swivel around giving more precise control over the direction of the sound.

The SPX-17 Pro boasts 100W max and 300W peak handling power. The SPX-13 Pro holds it down with 80W max and 240W peak. Because of the size difference, SPX-13 Pro has slightly less frequency response than its bigger brother.

As the name and price indicate, these component speakers are not really for the audio enthusiast. These are for those freakish audiophiles that are a bit obsessed with perfect unabated sound reproduction or, to put it nicely, audio connoisseurs.

Type-X Reference
If the Type-X Pro series seems a bit much to you, then the Type-X Reference speakers maybe more to your liking. Type-X Reference speakers are a very slight step down, somewhat in tweeter performance, but mostly in watts pushed. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between dome tweeters, which the Type-X Ref uses, and ring radiator tweeters that adorn the Type-X Pro. Dome tweeters have less moving parts, and less that can brake. Plus, you’re already installing the tweeters in such a way as to focus the sound where you want, more control is overkill.

Another nice thing about the Type-X Ref speakers is, you can convert this component speaker system into a coaxial system, adding to the installation options. The wattage of these cans is a bit diminished when compared to the Pro Series. The SPX-17 REF pushes 75W max and 225W peak, its partner in thumping, the SPX-13 REF, has a respectable 60W max and 180W peak. Being the low-end of these high-end speakers the SPX-13 REF has the lowest frequency response range of the four new offerings but at an MSRP of $400 they should both be mind altering.

Are They For Real

The price for this new Alpine upgrade is, as with any product, a combination real value and branded value. The trick is figuring out which is the reason the price is…what it is. These speakers offer some impressive features, but Alpine’s pricing it out of range for many in their loyal demographic. Most people spend $50-$60 dollars on a set of car speakers, and are perfectly happy with their performance. The new Alpine Type-X is cutting edge, but taking into account the fact that you can get the current model for $200, what makes these worth the extra bucks?

..via Audio Junkies..Press Release

Read more!

Friday, December 7, 2007

iLuv i1155 is iNcredible

The iLuv i1155 is an ingenious combination of iPod dock and DVD/CD player. Its screen is ridiculously large at 8.4in. But, if that’s not enough screen for you, you can always jack into your TV via Composite Video or S-Video, (NTSC or PAL). While you’re at it, don’t forget to pump up the audio too. The audio output is also analog. If you’re not really into waking the dead with your home audio system…there, of course, is the option to plug in headphones.

Adding versatility to the player is the addition of a second headphone jack. Now, you can share your cinemaphile tendencies...while getting cozy with those closest to you. If you have more than one other person you want to entertain with the iLuv, there’s a 2x1 watt built in speaker system so you can broadcast the good times on the go. Some prefer staying in one place to view their cinematic preferences. Well, the adaptable built in stand helps free your hands for other, more interesting, endeavors.

The noble folks at iLuv, in order to stay current, have released an updated version of this PMP dream machine, (it hit selves last month). The new upgrade, which uses a special Apple authentication chip, enables you to play the newer iPod Classic and Nano videos along with your 5th Gen joints.

Powering options abound with the iLuv; the unit comes with a built-in rechargeable battery and is packaged with a wall adaptor and car cigarette lighter adapter. As with any good iPod accessory the i1155 charges your iPod while you play. Battery life on DVD playback is a scant 3 hrs, video playback from iPods is a bit better at 4 hrs, and you’re fully charged ready and to go, after 4-5 hrs. The biggest problem, I see with the iLuv i1155, is stopping people from looking over your shoulder.

..via Coolest Gadgets..

Read more!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Archos 605, Wi-Fi PMP for the Techie

The Archos 605 Wi-Fi PMP, isn’t going to score you any cool points in the eyes of hipsters, they're hypnotized by shiny apples. But, as far as you and your cohorts are concerned this Wi-Fi enabled touch screen PMP is straight off the pages of Buck Rogers, and excruciatingly hip. Its elegance is not in its presentation. The beauty lays in its functionality, functionality that isn’t tied to a one-way file transfer or DRM video content from the manufacture’s own media store. Archos 605 mounts its internal memory as a drive on Mac or PC via USB, pretty basic (for any non-Apple PMP). You can then transfer whatever media or data files you wish, to and from the player’s memory. The memory offerings, which are substantial, come in 30, 80, & 160 Gigs capacities.

Screen size is always a draw with portable video players. Archos 605 has one of the largest on the market at 4.3-inchs. It displays in 800x480 resolution, so movies, pictures, and WebPages look the same as they would on your PC. They’ve also made the touch screen smudge resistance, somehow.

The best design features on any electronics are practical ones and because nothing screams impracticality like having to hold your video player while watching a two hour movie, this player has a sturdy metal stand built in. Also built into the unit is a speaker for sharing your movies in group viewing sessions. Archos 605's design drawbacks are the proprietary USB connection, its scratch magnet of a case and dirt prone white front buttons.

Archos 605 is a standalone player for music, videos, photos, and PDFs. The content portal, which is like online store, allows you to buy or rent movies and music from different providers, (how novel, competition in digital media distribution).

As with many devices from Archos, the 605 is a base for many add-ons. Marketing fluff aside, what you get in the box isn’t going to allow you to fully utilize the player’s capabilities. But then you wouldn't want to pay extra for stuff you might never use. At 20 bucks a pop, plug-ins allow for high definition playback, Wi-Fi internet radio, reading multiple video file formats, and more. If you plan on using Archos’ Wi-Fi connectivity to browse the net you need to purchase Opera web browsing software, $30. This mobile browser is highly rated and the flash plug-in gives you more of the web than Mobile Safari browser, which has no flash plug-in.

The most expensive, and consequently the most useful, add-on is Archos DVR Station, or dock. It adapts the video signal to your television, then, turns your digital video player into a digital video recorder, hence the DVR in the name. The DVR allows you to record and playback your favorite television content on the portable player, or on your television. Why pay a charge to watch shows on your PMP that you’ve already paid for in your cable subscription? Archos DVR Station also includes a physical keyboard on the DVR’s remote making web surfing and emailing while lounging in the EZ-Boy much more viable.

Archos has released a versatile, relatively inexpensive, customizable portable player that is unmatched in screen resolution. You may have to drop some additional cash to enhance functionality, but the investment is completely worth it, especially when you travel. If you are thinking iPod consider what you’ll be giving up, drag and drop hard drive support, wirelessly rent movies and music, and DVR. Sure the presentation is a bit lacking, but do you buy PMPs to impress others or yourself?

Read more!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Spotlight: Powerful LED Flashlight for the Car

Small, powerful, and at mere two inches it’s definitely not compensating for any anatomical shortcomings (those enormous Maglights most assuredly are),Spotlight LED in-car flashlights scream preparedness, practicality, and security all while maintaining the driver’s ultra hip image. You see, what the Spotlight lacks in the way of an imaginative moniker, it gains in the creativeness of its concept. The Spotlight is a LED flashlight that charges in the auto’s cigarette lighter adapter.

It is fully charged in three hours, and gives you an hour or more of supplementary light. Now you can easily find those French fries along the side of your seat, change a tire, or blind cops...before they can do it to you (not recommended). If you're a car enthusiast you probably purchase all manner of useless gadgets for your car, which usually means no room for useful stuff. Why not get something you know you need, but will still get those, "Ooh, what's that?" responses. An always ready, at your fingertips, Spotlight.

Read more!

Friday, November 30, 2007

iLive Travel iPod Speakers

Travel is hectic enough as is. Your travel gadgets shouldn’t put any extra burden upon your travel worn bones. Gadgets are always getting smaller, but when shopping for speakers logic dictates the more speaker you have the more sound you’ll get. This equation doesn't fit well with the lifestyle of the seasoned traveler. So, is there a happy median? It is doubtful anyone, aside from Bose, has found that perfect blend of compact size and big sound, yet. Though, iLive IC2807 has gotten closer than I’ve seen in a while.

iLive IC2807, (will the “i” era end?) is a lightweight, tote worthy, speaker system delivering a full sound…all in a slick foldable case that takes up less of the precious free space in your luggage. iLive has blended a travel alarm, with an iPod speaker. What’s better than waking up to your morning playlist to dissipate those home sick feelings? If you’re an audiophile, or rich, or both, go for the Bose SoundDock, it sounds amazing, but for the rest of us iLive speakers rock our heads hard enough...while sparing our wallets to boot.

Read more!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Touch Sensitive Bluetooth Headset

So you're driving along, and you get a call on your Bluetooth headset. You go to press the answer button, but it takes such force to press dislodge the headset from you're ear. Ok, so this might not happen that often, but surely it does happen. Why else would the folks at Bluetrek come 'out the box' with their touch sensitive answer button on the new 'Sense' Bluetooth headset? As far as interface upgrades go this is as much of a breakthrough for headsets as Macintosh's Mouse was for PCs. It's amazing no one has done this yet.

As far as functionality goes, Andrew Lim, of Crave UK said, "Call quality is relatively clear". The battery life is reported to be four hours talk time and five hours standby. This should provide plenty of time to communicate with your love ones and mates while commuting, provided your commute isn't absurdly long. Of course, if you're one to sport a Bluetooth headset all day like some robot than you may need a longer battery. However, if you use it sparingly, like while actually using the phone, than Bluetrek Sense has plenty of battery life for you. Bluetrek Sense will be available in the UK, at beginning of next year, for about $100US.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cyber-Monday Hype Pays Off

All the marketing hoopla about Cyber Monday must have spontaneously ignited the credit cards of gift shoppers. Pockets are still smoldering this morning after Monday's online sales jump of 21% over last year’s figures. According to ComScore (in Virginia), which tracks internet sales and traffic, Cyber Monday produced $733 million in sales.

Cyber Monday's lure is evident. This year’s Monday after thanksgiving or “get back to work” day saw more sales than the $667 million racked up by online retailers on December 13, last year busiest day.

Numbers of shoppers rose by 38%, but the average spent went down 12%. Trends like this make sense; affluent consumers have been shopping online for a while, as a wider diversity of shoppers take the first shaking steps towards the cornucopia that awaits the virtual shopper, the numbers will shift.

ComScore is reporting good news all around for online retailers. November, up until the 26th, has seen a 12 point gain against the total sales of all of November 2006. These gains show the American Consumer’s readiness to goof off at work by embracing the convenience of exercising their civic duty, to shop, online.


Read more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Canon's DVD Direct Connection to HDD and Flash Drive Camcorders

New Japanese Releases

Digital camcorders are great for having a video format that’s easily transferred and edited… on the computer. But if you need quick and dirty unedited copies, you have to first transfer the footage to a computer in order to output a DVD. This minor annoyance will soon dissolve quicker than a bad video effect when you fire up your Canon DW-100 portable DVD recorder. This Canon directly connects to select Canon cameras; allowing you to burn standard definition and high definition resolutions straight to DVD without computer intervention.

The Canon DW-100 also connects thru USB to Mac or PC for dual duty as an external DVD burner. Canon’s other market for the DW-100 is digitally savvy video editors that want to output their finely crafted footage in 1080p glory (it writes in Blu-Ray format). But the overshadowing benefit of the DVD recorder is the innovation of the direct connection to the Camcorder. This effectively eliminates the time and cost involved with distributing those videos to your fans, like Uncle Mike and Aunt Betty (yeah those fans). There’s definitely nothing wrong with pleasing your audience, but up until now you had to wait till you got home to make copies. Usually, this means you have to spend a ton on postage and mailers in order to get those copies to your die hard fans. Now they have their copy the same night and the harassing phones calls inquiring into the whereabouts of the irresistible footage will cease. Allowing you to focus on your next blockbuster.

So, for those events that everyone wants a video of: weddings, reunions, sporting events, theatre productions, graduations, and so on, the Canon DW-100 is the perfect solution. Just make sure you buy your DVD-Rs in the value pack. If your camera work is as stellar as this direct connect concept, you’re going to be very popular. ..via..

Read more!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Get Futuristic with Nespresso Essenza

The Jetsons had a capsule for everything, and Nespresso Essenza D100 is helping bring that Jetsons-like convenience to espresso makers. Their exclusive coffee pods eliminate the guess work involved with making the perfect cup of energizing elixir. The pods ability to put an end to the mess finely ground coffee can make, along with the long clean up sessions with the machine, is reason enough to use this thing. You’re most likely wondering if the coffee pods will taste fresh, me too (I can’t pop one in unfortunately); this is a justifiable concern when dealing with any prepackaged goods. According to the Nespresso their aluminum pods avoid tainting the taste of the grounds by having a barrier between the metal and the coffee. The grounds are supposed to last up to nine months, but they probably won’t be around long enough for anyone to find out, caffeine is addictive after all. Another nifty thing about your new adjustable serving friend is the water carafe. The large opening makes the carafe easy to fill and the unit’s design allows the carafe to be installed quickly. So if your sophisticated sensibilities want to take the time to enjoy the finer things of life, but your time constraints demand efficiency. This pod's for you.
Read more!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

RCA's Media Player Banks on the Fitness Niche

RCA Jet Stream Series media players promise fewer fitness related fumbles involving wired headphones. Jet Stream’s armband holder and wireless headphones provide this added security. RCA’s unwired wonder comes on the heels of Kleer’s market shaking…product enabling radio link technology. These digital RF wireless earbuds far exceed the sound quality of the compressed audio you get from Bluetooth connectivity. The prototype model had no wire connecting the two earphones (visually this was a design plus), but focus groups raised concerns about misplacing one earpiece so a wire connecting the earpieces, running behind the neck, materialized on the production model to alleviate these concerns.

Because there is one less transmitter, this modified configuration cost less to produce. This PMP is no sissy; it’s made for stressful situations, like the constant jostling of a morning jog or being drenched with sweat. Along with its 340 song capacity, 20 FM presets, and long battery life the RCA Jet Stream also integrates the most popular fitness gadgets into its software. With the stop watch, pedometer, calorie counter, and body mass calculator you can set more achievable goals, calculate your progress, and monitor your body’s changes closely for that added motivation. It’s a music player at heart, of course, so don’t forget to load up on those bass pumping workout tunes while you’re at it. ..via..

Read more!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clock Radios: a Timeless Gift?

When was the last time you gave someone a clock radio? The only time most people think to give one as a gift is when their child or friend makes the precarious trek to college. However, after four years of being soaked in beer and getting thrown across the room, most clock radios have thrown in the towel. As far as thoughtful inexpensive gifts go, the clock radio wins. Sleep schedules are important. The Sony ICF-CD843V gives it’s user a better chance at promptness while allowing them to wake up to the method of their choosing (CD, radio, or buzzer). The CD-R/RW playback option allows one to be coaxed to consciousness while enjoying their own burned CD mixes or any CD. The Sony has 25 station presets and radio reception is strong via the wire antenna, which is a unique feature to find on a clock radio. Reviewing users on the fringe of larger areas found the radio could tune in stations that were previously unavailable to them. Along with radio, the unit’s digital tuner also tunes in TV audio and weather stations.

The sound quality was highly regarded among users as well, many noted the superior sound reproduction and powerful bass boost mode as being the deciding factor in whether or not to make the purchase. Having woken up to this clock radio first hand (many hotel chains have this model) I have to concur. The dual display of the alarm time and the actual time is useful and the alarm modes, themselves, are versatile. There’s nap mode, which lets you choose your nap duration (20 to 120 min) with one button access, while the main alarm stays set to your preferred wake time. The snooze setting functions similarly, one touch of the snooze bar gives you 10 minutes, press it again and you have 20 minutes, and so on, up to an hour. Again, you can do this without having to reset you alarm to a later time.

The major drawbacks of the Sony ICF-CD843V are the lack of battery back up, the odd shape, and the LCD display.It doesn’t read well at an angle. Conversely, the LCD does have a brightness adjustment so it won’t disturb users that are sensitive to light while dozing off. The unit’s shape is touted by Sony as being space saving, but the lack of a battery back up is pretty unforgivable. Why would Sony overlook this key feature? Battery backup has been a major feature of clock radios since they were first introduced. Maybe, Sony is betting gift givers, and gift receivers will be so distracted by the other great features that they will overlook this shortcoming. Plus you can always buy a battery back-up.

Read more!

Black Friday Cometh

Black Friday Cometh, it’s just two days away. That steady march to the gift giving season is quickly becoming a foot race. You’re not going to brave the masses at the mall…are you? Of course you aren’t, you’ll go online to Amazon,,, Shopzilla, or a similar site. At these sites you’ll more than likely find the best price is here at So, don’t waste your time, cut out the middle man, go directly to the source of good deals…us. We have thousands of great gifts just waiting for your cleverness to match them with that perfect somebody. If you’re short on gift ideas there are the tried and true gifts, like Braun shavers. Braun makes a great shaver, along with many useful kitchen appliances, and Braun is constantly making improvements to their technology. So a newer shaver is always a welcomed upgrade from the previous year’s model (plus those blades don’t last forever).

Any crafty chef, or challenged cook, will welcome our classy cookware offerings into their kitchens (browse all our brands offerings here). Our cookware selection is greater than any box store could offer, from beer makers to ice cream makers, from countertop grills to outdoor barbeques there is something for the foodie in all of us. Black Friday’s madness is not inevitable. There are those who need to save those couple bucks by fighting the masses. The real price might be their sanity. Do yourself and your constitution a favor, and shop online. It’s dangerous out there.

Read more!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

GE Cell Fusion Cordless Phone

Gift Ideas

These days, landlines get no love. Cordless phones are about as hip as a hip replacement. Most likely, your cordless phone got shoved to the side, along with your 56k modem, sometime around the turn of the Millennium. Despite the cordless phone's battered image they've improved quite a bit over the years. Rapid developments in the telecommunications industry have forced cordless phone makers, like GE, to come up with more creative and integrative solutions. GE Cell Fusion is one of these. Cell Fusion uses a dedicated, less congested, radio frequency (1.9GHz) known as Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication or DECT, which avoids interference from other wireless devices. DECT, in and of itself, doesn’t warrant any special praise, but Cell Fusion also uses Link to Cell technology.

This allows GE’s cordless handsets to sync with up to two Bluetooth enabled cell phones at once. Link to Cell, gives you all the stability of landlines, with the free long-distance of your cellular plan. Your phonebook is synced up too. Not only do you have the added convenience of managing your cell and landline calls on one handset, you get fancy cordless phone features too, like battery back up and push to talk between handsets. GE’s Cell Fusion is not a bad gift idea for those landline users on your list, if there are any left.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is Cambridge Consultants’ Wi-Fi "RadioPro" a Platform for Success?

Portable internet radios don’t share the stage with other MP3 based players…yet. Cambridge Consultants, a marketing and product development firm based in England, is betting that lowering the eBOM (electronic bill of materials) for possible portable Wi-Fi products is the key to initiate a surge of interest in the technology’s marketability. Their new platform “RadioPro” is a dedicated portal of over a 10,000 radio stations, a software development kit, and two chipsets that include a Multimedia Application Processor and WiFi chip.

The SDK allows for customizable menus and automatic firmware updates. RadioPro will be offered to manufactures at the low price of $15 per unit, which should bring the actual consumable product cost to about fifty bucks or so. In order to illustrate the point, the firm has developed a Wi-Fi product of their very own. It was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in the beginning of the year. Their version is sort of goofy looking; it would take an aesthetically conscious company to really present this technology appropriately. Looks are a big part of creating the desire to acquire that is needed for the portable Wi-Fi radio market to be fully realized.

Read more!

Monday, November 12, 2007

In-Car Robots..."R2" Cute

On the Horizon
Who couldn’t use a little company on those long road trips? The advent of radio gave drivers that sense of riding with someone else. Obviously, radio falls way short of being a replacement for human interaction. Well…there’s always the phone. Cell phones quench that thirst to converse, surely. What if your needs are more diverse? Say you can’t drive another minute without your favorite tune blaring in your ear or you need to search a location on your GPS while speeding along the highway. Should you distract yourself from driving long enough to complete these tasks? These and many other minor dilemmas will soon be a thing of the past for drivers. In-car robots promise to “serve as a driver's partner to share the driver's feelings, react to the driver's situations, and communicate with the driver.”
Facial recognition software can already read and copy facial expressions successfully. Through constant video monitoring, these Robots would be able to read your facial expressions and determine your emotional state or level of alertness. The system would then offer music and lighting that would complement your emotions by calming you, waking you up, or just helping maintain your pleasant state of mind. The in-car robot possibly would suggest for you to pull over and rest, or maybe even attempt to cheer you up. In addition the robot would have control over all car electronics that required your input. Car gadgets would be controlled by the robot via voice command. These robots are in the developmental stages, car manufactures and after-market manufactures (Pioneer) have started displaying these technologies on the car show circuit. Lovable ‘toy-ish’ robots have popped up in concept cars like the Nissan Pivo 2 which was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last week.

Read more!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pioneer's New Speakers Appeal to the Whisky Lover

Maybe we here at have that, it’s Thursday evening, “I need a drink” bug. But this pair of speakers from Pioneer’s European site got us kind of excited, and even more ready to tie a few on. If you’re not a whiskey connoisseur you can still dig on this concept on an environmentalist level. Pioneer has started recycling Suntory distillery’s White Oak whiskey curing barrels into finely crafted speakers. (Suntory is a Japanese whisky producer; you know…the company the hires Bill Murray to model in the movie “Lost in Translation”). Pioneer has discovered reusing these 100 year old barrels not only saves virgin trees, but also renders a richer immersive sound than newer materials. The inherent rigidity of White Oak reduces vibrations and sound resonance thus producing a crisper sound. These aren’t mass produced; each pair is a “true original”. It’s doubtful they’re hand made, but they’re certainly limited. So grab yourself a nice single malt on the rocks, throw a record of your favorite crooner on the Hi Fi, and get your grown man or woman on…with your own pair of pioneer “pure malt” speakers. If you can get your hands on them let us know, seriously.
Read more!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gphone Myth...Demystified

Tech News
A single ‘G’phone is too narrow-minded for the far-sighted folks at Google. Their vision is much more encompassing of all ‘smart’ phones, open source developers, and end users. Android is the love child of Google’s relations with the Open Handset Alliance. Android is the answer, apparently, to those proprietary mobile phone technology blues. Even Apple’s iphone, which was billed as breaking the binds of limited mobile browsers, is limited by Safari Mobile’s lack of Flash or Java plug-ins, not to mention the carrier contracts. Android is a platform that includes an operating system, user-interface, and applications; all the components that make a ‘smart’ It also has the added benefit of allowing any software developers to write and test apps. Then, submit them for super wide distribution. No web apps or hacking skills needed. This idea has crazy potential. There are 2.7 billion mobile phone users in the world. Think about that for a second…here on the planet Earth there’s 1.1 billion internet users, 800 million cars, and 1.3 million land lines phones. No numbers even come close to this staggering statistic. If Google pulls this off they will have successfully tapped into be the biggest market in the world. Just another day at the office for this global Super-corporation. If anyone can coordinate such a strategic’s those crafty Californians at Google.
..Via Google Blog..

Read more!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The New GUI Wars: Denon AVR-3808ci vs. Sony STR-DA5300ES HDMI Receivers

Product Comparison

The Denon AVR-3808CI and the Sony STR-DA5300ES both use a new GUI menu. Denon’s text and graphics are not as slick looking as the Sony’s, but they are very readable and work
as designed. The Denon is the least expensive receiver to offer GUI and also will display album art and track info from digital media sources. Digital media plays through the Ethernet port or the USB port. The integrated USB is designed to access mass storage devices like hard drives or flash drives. This addition of a USB port greatly expands the Denon’s capabilities. However, for proponents of Apple there is a bit of a catch. If you’re an iTunes fan you’ll need to purchase Twonky Media software ($40) in order to play your iTunes library. Even with this extra hoop they make you jump through the Denon still won’t play your iTunes store purchases. The Denon really likes Windows Media Player, Microsoft's new sticker on the front of the unit touts the receivers ability by saying the Denon "playsforsure" Window Media Files.

The Sony’s GUI is a bit more up-to-date looking and the inputs names can be custom labeled. This might come in handy if you end up using all 6 available HDMI 3.1 connections, Denon’s receiver has 4 HDMI jacks (that’s plenty). As far as digital media playback, Sony has their proprietary Digital Media (DM) port. Sony offers up four adapters that support the use of this port. They are designed to interface with WiFi, Bluetooth, iPod, and of course, Walkman. These don’t seem as if they’d be big sellers, especially due to the fact that there are so many inputs in this flagship receiver that you don’t have to use their DM port compliant items. The Sony STR-DA5300ES GUI’s drawback is it was found to have problems displaying the GUI on some HD sets. Make sure if you choose the Sony that the merchant will accept returns.

Video conversion technologies are a big reason these guys cost so much. In both receivers the video conversion technologies have been enhanced.They differ a bit though; the Sony up-converts only analog signals to HDMI. The nice thing is you are given selectable resolution choices that run the gamut of HD set resolutions from 480i all the way to 1080p. The newest processor tests revealed the great strides Sony has made in their video processing technology ('Jaggies' are a thing of the past). The Denon offers more video conversion modes. Along with analog to HDMI conversion, the Denon also up converts among the various analog formats. The low analog to high analog conversion allows for non-HD video component owners to get the best performance possible from an analog signal. The Denon’s analog video processing works in several ways, but basically it takes the composite video (lowest quality analog signal) and converts either to S-Video (middle quality analog signal), or component video (highest). Which one you’ll use is depended on your TV. These added video conversions options make the Denon a little more versatile.

Last, but most definitely not least, the big question, how do they sound? For the price, these things should sound amazing and don’t let you down. There are very few sound quality differences that are worth noting. They use 7.1 surround sound, have Digital Sound Processing (theater, jazz, concert, ect.), and have internal processors for Dolby true HD and DTS-HD. These HD sound processors allow newer disc players like the new Panasonic DMP-BD30 to utilize their own digital HD sound signal capabilities. Again, the differences are slight. The Auto calibration mic from Sony is stereo, Denon’s is mono. Conversely, the Denon outputs 130W and the Sony 120W. Sony and Denon don’t make this decision easy. These HDMI receivers are too evenly matched to pick a clear winner. It really comes down to what type of home theater system they will be integrated into.

The Sony has more connections than a Hollywood casting agent, I mean six HDMIs is a lot, but than again it’s a bit future proofed by having so many. It has a multitude of options for video resolution output and the GUI menu is customizable. Although, that goofy GUI display bug (testers found it did work on all sets) is a bit concerning.

The Denon is less money and it allows for more digital media interfacing options while giving you more information about what you’re listening to. The Ethernet ports allows for remote repair or calibration by Denon authorized installers and when disc content catches up it could be used to access movie extras that are on the internet.

So, it is left up to you to decide which options are more important or more applicable to your specific home theater setup. It’s that age old sales question, “So, what are you going to do with it?”

Read more!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca 3.5 (to be 'round' or not to be 'round')

The Germans invented the limited access highway...the Autobahn (a.k.a. the interstate to us in the U.S.). They arguably make the most refined automobiles available anywhere mainly to deal with the speeds at which they are driven. Point being they take their driving pretty seriously. Plus, they’re German; they’re kind of serious all around. So who better than Blaupunkt Travelpilot to tell you how to get where you are going and how fast you should drive to get there.

Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca 3.5 Edition GPS is no square. Why did they go round? Well…not being present at the design meeting, one can only speculate, but my opinion is the round design serves to better mesh with the round display features that are present on most cars like the speedometer or tachometer. Also, in the crowded GPS market it stands out, on several blogs people are talking and debating about why it’s round. Simply put, in terms of free press this is a stroke of genius. The practicality of this round design is questionable. It needlessly takes up space.

Enough with the fluff let's get to the nuts and blots of the device. Its specs aren’t groundbreaking 400 MHz processor, 64MB SDRAM, 3.5in screen, 1GB on board memory that is expandable through MMC/SD/SDHC card slot 256MB - 4GB. It has preloaded in the flash memory all major European roads and detailed maps of UK/Ireland. There are some more impressive things about the Blaupunkt. You can use the card slot to play music or view pictures while still getting guided navigation. The device comes with a DVD loaded with detailed maps of 21 European countries (most of the time you have to pay separately for this information). It is also touted for being forgiving to bad spellers when typing in a destination.

The Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca 3.5 (round) Edition is a square in the sense that it doesn’t like speeders. It knows the speed limit and will warn you audibly and visually when you foot gets too heavy. One would assume this has got to be an optional feature. It uses TMS for live traffic rerouting even if you’re not using the GPS to calculate your route. So as Blaupunkt points out, “Rest assured: the round TravelPilot will always keep you on the straight and narrow.”

For drooling purposes only not available in the US…yet. We’ll keep you updated.


Read more!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Models Lose Jobs to Holograms (now they'll really starve)

Target, Inc., not content with mere humans modeling their trendy inexpensive threads, has decided that their clothes will be better represented by high definition holographic projection. Maintaining their ultra-hip image Target's Nov. 6th and 7th fashion show at Grand Central Terminal will be be a fashion first, sort of. What will be new is this show will feature just 3D-virtual clothes that dance around and interact with each other(and no fashion models at all).

Kate Moss as a Holographic Model
This technology isn't new it just the application that is inventive. Musion Systems, Ltd., a UK company, has engineered the light show for Target. The show will be replayed every ten minutes for 12 hours straight. Thus democratizing the exclusivity of fashion shows while saving thousands and reaching millions over the two day event. Average show costs run upwards of $200,000, and last 15 minutes.

Musion filmed the models in the clothes then digitally removed the human parts (so I guess the models aren't done away with completely but I can't see them) and project the HD video images using an old world magic trick, a technique that used mirrors. Musion uses foil sheets instead of glass mirrors. This certainly makes things a bit less cumbersome.

Target, with this approach makes it easier for customers...sorry 'guests' envision themselves in these pieces. But it may have the reverse affect of creeping them out. Halloween is over guys headless models would have worked better last month.

Read more!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Panasonic DMP-BD30K Blu-ray Disc Player

Just Announced
So, you think you want a Blu-ray player? Well your timing is dead on; this is the first Blu-ray player to use newer technologies many avid AV heads have been waiting for. The Panasonic DMP-BD30K Blu-ray disc player uses the ‘final’ standard profile (who knows if it’s really finalized, nonetheless) it is an impressive upgrade. Conversely, HD-DVD has had most of these enhancements from its inception. The upgrade, A.K.A. profile 1.1, gives this Blu-ray player some unique capabilities, among the Blu-ray playing sets. These enhancements include picture-in-picture mode upgrades, which are unusable until Blu-ray disc content catches up, and an internal decoder for both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. These additions compete more directly with HD-DVD.

The Panasonic DMP-BD30K is a quite the upscale piece of technology… literally. The video signal from content recorded in 480i/p, 720p, or 1080i is up-converted using high-speed image processing technology. Pixel Precision Progressive Processing (P4HD) generates each one of the resolution enhancing pixels using information drawn from up to 60 pixels surrounding the original image’s pixels. This debonair disc spinner than categorizes these generated pixels into 16 motion categories: stationary, slow moving, fast, and so on. This image processor effectively does away with those screwy pixels, rendered by older up-scaling technologies, which get stuck or make jagged or choppy images.

Panasonic took this up-converting a step further, they are very seldom out done, by utilizing deep color (12 bit) reproduction via HDMI and 3:2 pull down. CNET reviews were most impressed by these video rendering features. 3:2 pull down optimizes the image processing based on whether the source of the footage is video or film. Sticking with the “Panasonic Family Time” theme, if you own or are looking to own a Panasonic HD camcorder you can watch your cinematic musings with the onboard SD card slot present on the player at full 1920x1080. The price of this player is a bit of a sticking point and you can get a Playstation 3 that plays Blu-ray and does a lot more…for less, although AV purists should be quite content with this decked out disc player’s capabilities.

Read more!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Passwords be 'Damned', I Want to Draw

Tech News
Remembering all those passwords got you down? Do you use the same password for all your accounts? This practice can be a bit risky to say the least. What if someone found out that one password? The damage could be widespread. No worries mate the British are here to help. Newcastle University researches, Dr Jeff Yan, a computer science lecturer, and PhD student Paul Dunphy have developed emerging Draw a Secret(DAS)for drawing rather than typing your pass code. To even use DAS pass codes you would need something that allows you to interface using a stylus. Devices such as tabletsor Smartphoneswould allow for this type of interface. This DAS type of security measure would be difficult, if not impossible, to hack or reproduce.
DAS apparently has failed to take off due to the difficulty of remembering where you started your pass-drawing when you assigned it. So in the enduring spirit of trail and error, they’ve added a background image(BDAS). In hopes that this will enable you to remember where to start that scribble you foolishly made your pass code. This direction makes sense, drawings are potentially easier to memorize. However, making a drawing that is complicated enough to be effective and that you can consistently reproduce is a challenge in and of itself. Plus, how many more ways will we give ourselves to enable our memory to go soft? Although, if you’re an illustrator this is most likely right up your ally.

Read more!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Alpine iDA-X001 DMR Made for Apple iPod

These days, it seems as if the electronics market is slowly becoming overcrowded with iPod accessories. This trend is due to the pervasiveness of iPod ownership…many companies are happily making millions off iPod accessory development. Yet, leaders still emerge.
Alpine iDA-X001 Digital Media Receiver designed for iPod
So it only makes sense that, to their mutual benefit, companies like Alpine would join forces and work cooperatively with Apple to develop integrative iPod technologies. Ultimately, with one common goal in mind…quenching that mobile music thirst. Now, the new kids on the block known as digital media car revivers (DMR for short) are redefining the way we look at are car audio systems. On the Alpine iDA-X001 there‘s no disc player and definitely no cassette player. Instead they’re a multitude of possible add ons, optional: CD changers, Blutooth technologies, satellite radio, and HD radio are available, but who needs ‘em. This jewel gives you jog wheel music library navigation and album artwork (with 5th generation iPods) displayed on it crisply render LCD display. The connection is all digital through high speed USB 2.0. Generic USB flash memory drives, with MP3s present, can also be play over the system. Most users rate this unit high and the only drawback is the jog wheel is a bit cumbersome. A touch wheel would be nice. Maybe next time guys try a touch wheel.
Read more!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Denon AH-D5000 Delivers Devastating Sound

Deal of the Day: Denon AH-D5000 Headphones
Your discerning musical taste deserves the very best in audio output. An important component of any headphone system is blocking out the extraneous noise. This allows you to easily get lost in the music. Denon realizes these facts. Their acoustical engineers have spared no expense developing the Denon AH-D5000, the ‘Cadillac’ of over the ear headphones. They have those same ‘Cadillacesque’ wood accents around the outside of the phones. The big difference being these bits of refined timber serve as sound resonators so they actually do something, besides exude refinement. The cord itself lets you know the Denon AH-D5000 isn’t for the light hearted music listener. This cord is cloth covered, a bit of old school technology to provide that extra level of refinement, and very high grade. DJ’s, studio engineers, and serious audiophiles, you will thank yourself for this investment. Not to mention the impression they’ll leave on your eardrums. Denon delivers superb sound reproduction, as usual.
Read more!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Car Stereo Bluetooth From Sony

Have you been getting those annoying tickets for not using a hands free device with your mobile phone while driving? (I've gotten a couple.) Wired headsets get tangled and break and those Bluetooth headsets kinda turn everyone who wears them onto a Cyborg. If you have one and rock it more power to you. Bluetooth through the car stereo system seems promising yet has the possibility of being overpriced, but so does having a car. The safety of you and yours is the good reason for spending money on this technology. Plus, you may not have updated your car head unit in years so this is a perfect excuse to do so.

The Sony MEX-Bt5000 has just arrived. It's slick looking and inexpensive (if you buy smart)'s definitely worth the bucks. Especially if you factor in those traffic ticket fines. This receivers' most stunning feature the Bluetooth 2.0 capabilities this allows you to connect your phone as the audio source. You can then play audio streams straight from your phone. This would be an upgrade for most high end car audio owners. iPods plug in along with CD changes. This unit is iPod friendly. Which brings me to this question. When the iPods going to get Bluetooth?
Read more!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Etronic's Catchy Phrase Contest

We know we’re a clever bunch over here at, but even great minds have brain farts every once in a while. So we’ve decided to shift the pleasure (or burden) of constructing a market appropriate catch phrase to you, our untapped resource…I mean valued customer. What will you win if your savvy word-smiting is chosen as the catchiest phrase? (in addition to the adoration of your friends and family) You’ll receive a sweet piece of engineering, an official 1988, made in Japan, Sony 20 inch Trinitron television. We were all pretty excited to find this gem in the warehouse. (Sort of a buried treasure) Maybe you’re thinking this is a relic, a dinosaur even. You couldn’t be more wrong. This television was manufactured at a time when quality control was high, defects were low, and Sony’s were really expensive. This vintage technology uses surround sound stereo speakers, has video component connections, and is cable ready. You can enjoy Pong or Playstation 3 on this Sony. It is completely unused, still in the box, has a manual, and comes with one of those huge remotes that could only be from the eighties. What other reasons do you need? It’s a Sony.
Read more!

Samsung's uses tiny technology to make high capacity flash memory

Samsung has implemented their tiny (.03µm/30nm) chip processing technology to make huge strides in flash memory storage capacity, up to 128 gigs. With this amount of flash memory you can store 40 individual DNA profiles, 80 DVD movies, or 32,000 MP3s just to give you an idea of its potential. These are going into production in the second half of 2009. This is going to have ramifications throughout the digital world. It will affect media players, cameras, USB flash drives, mobile phones, DRAM anything that uses NAND flash chip technology. The capacities of these devices will grow without the products themselves growing. Sweet work, Samsung, keep putting the worlds manufactures to shame with your developments and I’ll keep buying more of your stock.
Read more!