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.

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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.

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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.


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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..

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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.
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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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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..

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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?”

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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.


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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.

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