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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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

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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..

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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?

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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.

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