Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Auditory gold from around the world

Tivoli Audio, a leading maker of stereo products, has yet another award winning product to their name. The NetWorks Global Audio system recently received the Consumer Electronics Innovations 2009 Design and Engineering Award. Full press release from Tivoli Audio can be found here.

What does this all mean? Well, I don’t know about you, but standard American radio seems a bit lacking. Sure, you can stream internet radio to your computer, but the audio quality there leaves something to be desired. Even with wires, plugging your audio out to some good speakers or an amplifier the sound could be better.

Tivoli Audio’s NetWorks audio system takes care of the fidelity issues, and then some. Listen to stations from around the world, or stream music files from your computer via a wireless or Ethernet connection.

Another feature to make note of is the SupperBuffer™ which, according to Tivoli, “virtually eliminates Internet radio station dropouts.” That is certainly music to my ears, audiophile that I am.
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High Definition streamed into your home.

With everything going High Definition lately, as innovative as Roku’s Netflix player is, its standard definition is a little behind. At least, it was. Roku, Inc. announced yesterday that they have released support for streaming HD content. Full press release can be found here.

Bearing a price tag of just $99, significantly less than the average Blu-ray player, this advance in Roku’s set-top box is a beautiful thing that will not empty your wallet. Best of all, if you already own the Roku player, the software update will be delivered to you automatically and free of charge. Can it get any better?
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

‘They are 14 of 47.’

As announced yesterday, fourteen new companies joined the Open Handset Alliance, a technology and mobile group supporting Android as an open mobile platform. Complete press release, with the names of just who signed on, can be found here.

These forty-seven companies will be working together to provide us, the consumers, with stable and high quality mobile devices, advancing technology every step of the way.

What does this mean for us as consumers? For starters, less expensive handsets since the companies who produce the hardware will already be connected to the ones who make the software and applications.

Speaking of applications, since Android is open source, really any developer can produce useful or just plain fun add-ons. Developers can find out more at the Android SDK site.

Consumers benefit from the innovation by having a more entrhalling mobile experience, and developers can grab a slice of something that shows promise of being huge.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Etronics.com- ever evolving.

This blog is typically loaded with press releases and reviews of new products that will soon be coming on the market domestically, internationally, or both. However, we would be remiss if we did not mention some of the changes that are occurring on Etronics itself.

Over the passed few months Etronics has added toys to the already extensive list of product categories they sell. These are not your average, everyday toys, but some hard to find items… that is, unless you look on Etronics.

Also, we just recently joined the massive community of Twitter users in an effort to let the populous know of deals and sales offers as soon as they become available. If you’re a Twitter member, check for updates on our profile page. Not yet a member? It’s free to join, and informative to boot!

We now return the blog to your regularly scheduled tech news!
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Zune changes its tune.

Well, more accurately, they are changing how you buy your tunes. Zune, Microsoft Corp.’s digital music and entertainment service, announced today that agreements were made with major and independent music labels, which will add value to their subscription music download model. The agreements will allow subscribers to retain 10 files per month, regardless of their subscription status afterwards. Full Press release available here.

Whether this change in service will add significant value to the program, garnering more revenue for Microsoft, is uncertain at this time. However, this development does demonstrate that the company is focusing more on function than form when it comes to their players.

Since the Zune’s release back in 2006, numerous changes were made to the software and firmware of the players, but very few modifications to the size and shape. It seems the focus is more on presenting the user with the ability to find music they enjoy, than to present the world at large with a trendy fashion accessory that happens to play music.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Asus competes for business users.

The Asus company announced via a press release on Friday, their newest bid to gain a piece of the business technology pie, the P565.

This entry into the ever-filling market of cell phones that do everything, delivers speed and quality to the consumer. Utilizing Asus’ exclusive touch-responsive user interface, Glide, multi-tasking has never been easier. Quickly switch between applications without cumbersome click wheels, closely grouped controls, or a complex button combination; all that is needed, is to move a finger.

Boasting the fastest processor at present, 800MHz, the P565 is equipped to handle your photo and spreadsheet needs, as well as the e-mail and instant messaging, text documents, and web browsing… all at the same time without slowing down.

Now, speed is great, but means little to nothing if you are unable to see any of it. That is why this PDA has a 2.8”VGA High-resolution (480 x 640-pixel) touch screen. With such a clear and brilliant display, you will not have to worry about eyestrain and fatigue.

No release dates or pricing have been mentioned yet. View further details, and the official press release here

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apple Rumor: Macbook Nano/Apple Netbook

New York Times 'bits' contributor, John Markoff, has done some hard-nosed reporting about an unusual occurrence within Apple Computer: Steve Jobs on a conference calls with analysts. I know that doesn't sound too groundbreaking, but considering he hasn't taken part in one in eight years, it's news worthy. What's more news worthy is what was discussed.

First off, the economic tailspin isn't worrying the hipster computing giant. One analyst noted during the call...
Apple currently has "enough money in the bank to hire all of the engineers in Silicon Valley for a lifetime."

with $25 billion in the bank, no debt, and a growing army of loyal clientele, Apple is positioned, like no other company in the industry, to develop a netbook computer that will provide the full computing experience for under $500.

And Markoff has some interesting news about this possibility as well; "A" search engine company [contacted Markoff, stating they] "spotted Web visits from an unannounced Apple product with a display somewhere between an iPhone and a MacBook."

Furthering this storm of speculation is Snow Leopard, Apple's latest incarnation of their lauded OSX, said to be optimized for a touchscreen interface; just the kind of interface a 'Macbook Nano' or Apple Netbook machine would be sporting.

I think that battery capacity and lifespan will be a deciding factor in how quickly, if at all, this will come to market. That screen looks like a battery killer to me.

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Amazon slashes Dash Express by $100 for the day

The once $600 Dash Express has hit a very nice price point today, and most likely today only. Amazon's Gold Box deal of the dayhas these formidable networked navigators for a mere $200. The units dipped to the $300 mark in June, but this once in a blue moon, $100 off makes this a unheard of deal, definitely worth looking into. And hey, that’s pretty darn good for a 4.3-inch GPS device of any sort, even if those maps are still ugly.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Netflix finally brings 'Watch Instantly' to Macs via Silverlight

In a move that is likely to cut into iTunes rentals, today Netflix announces they will finally offer streaming content to their Mac using subscribers.

Though, I wouldn’t boot up the old PowerPC just yet, in order to access Netflix streaming content you must be running an Intel-based Mac loaded up with Microsoft's Flash-type browser plug-in, Silverlight. On top of giving us "breakthrough navigation for fast-forward and rewind," Silverlight, will also maintain the content’s DRM via PlayReady, Microsoft’s content access and protection technology.

By now you may be thinking, “who wants all that evil Microsoft code on their Mac,” especially when you consider this feature is in limited release and is only being offered to newer subscribers, for now. Which, for those of us that have been waiting ages for this feature to be worked out for Mac, is mad disappointing.

I just subscribed to Netflix about two month ago and it definitely doesn’t work for me yet. On the other hand, I can hold off on that Netflix compatible Blu-ray deck, at least until my stock portfolio rebounds.

Press release in expanded article.


Based on Microsoft Silverlight, New Player Features Enhanced Dynamic Streaming, First-Time Use for Macs and

Breakthrough Navigation for Fast-Forward and Rewind

LOS GATOS, Calif., October 27, 2008 – Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced it has begun the deployment of Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the instant watching component of the Netflix service and to allow subscribers for the first time to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year.

Silverlight is designed for delivery of cross-platform, cross-browser media experiences inside a Web browser. It is expected that Netflix members who watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their computers will enjoy a faster, easier connection and a more robust viewing experience with Silverlight, due to the quality built directly into the player. Among the viewing enhancements with the new player is a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding. The new Netflix player takes advantage of Play Ready DRM, which is built into Silverlight, for the playback of protected content on both Windows-based PCs and on Macs. That had not been possible with previous generation technologies.

"Silverlight with Play Ready offers a powerful and secure toolkit for delivery of dynamic streaming, which offers faster start-up, and higher quality video, adapted in real time to users' connection speeds," said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. "Members who enjoy watching movies and TV episodes from the growing library of choices that can be instantly streamed at Netflix will be thrilled with this next generation improvement of access and quality, on a broader range of platforms, including Intel Macs and Firefox."

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Moment of ZEN: Touch Sensing Art Mirror

Vanity, taken to a whole new level...

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Yamaha's Audiogram Series Brings Powerful yet Affordable Audio Recording to any Computer

Yamaha’s AUDIOGRAM 6and AUDIOGRAM 3turns any computer into a recording studio. These intuitive tools record audio from virtually any microphone, instrument, or audio device. The included USB cable supplies the unit’s power as well as providing an interface with the computer.

Truly a complete recording solution, the AUDIOGRAM Series bundles revolutionary hardware interface with professional grade software. CUBASE AI, the included music production software, turns any computer into an easy-to-use, 48-track, music production system - capable of producing professional quality demos.

“The AUDIOGRAM 6 features 2 XLR combo inputs with preamp, two stereo inputs, and one-knob compression for dialing in the desired sound from microphones and instruments, and a USB jack for connecting to a computer.

The compact AUDIOGRAM 3 features one phantom powered combo input switchable for microphones or instrument recording, a stereo input, a stereo and headphone output and a USB jack.

The AUDIOGRAM Series are now available for $149.99 retail (AUDIOGRAM 3) and $199.99 retail (AUDIOGRAM 6)."

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Samsung Teams up with Netflix on the BD-P2500 and BD-P2550

Today, Samsung announced a firmware update for two of their existing Blu-ray decks that enables streaming media playback.

The web’s most popular streaming content providers, Netflix and Pandora, have teamed up with Korean’s colossal consumer electronics manufacturer to bring streaming net-based media to those among us who desire a full cinematic experience, but loathe digital cable’s price gouging.

The Samsung BD-P2500and BD-P2550both get to take a break from their usual disc spinning duties by connecting via Ethernet to Netflix’s vast library of movies that are available as “watch instantly” titles. These titles can only be watch on a computer if the system is running Windows. So, in addition to giving you access to a richer experience through your home entertainment system, if you own a Mac you can access Netflix streaming movies without installing Windows.

Pandora, an easy way to discover new music and stay up-to-date with our favorite artists, is supported only on the BD-P2550.

If you own one of these decks now, you can update today, free of charge. More info can be found at: www.samsung.com/bluraysupport

Press Release
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Review of Sony ZSS4iP, Take the Party with You

Sony’s latest iPod boombox, the ZSS4IP,has been unleashed on our shores, and here’s the hands on review.

The first thing you have to contend with, if you're an iPhone or iPod Touch user, is swapping out the dock ‘window’ frame. The boomer ships with the Plexiglas dock frame installed, swapping this frame for the frame without the glass allows for direct touch control.A retractable latch holds the frame in place; simply depress the small panel release buttons (these are really tiny) and the dock frame releases. Next is getting your iPod docked. To be honest, this took me a few tries. The way you have to load the iPod makes it difficult to see the actual connector and lining it up with the super thin end of a Touch is tricky.A cutout in the frame gives you access to the ‘home’ button, this is slightly awkward and it was at this point I started thinking the gimmick of the tape deck-like dock, outweighed its usefulness. On the other hand, it is still a very desirable feature if you plan on going mobile with the blaster. With the iPod securely held in place, music lovers can hit the streets with the reassurance that their iPod won’t fall from its perch.The LCD is mounted facing front, just above the dock, a configuration that makes it ideal for a bookshelf or nightstand. And, because the touch controls will likely be used most frequently, this placement only makes sense. Of course, all music can be controlled by the remote, too.

Power output is four watts. The up side to limited power consumption is extended battery life. And, while this might not seem like a lot of power, in the hands of Sony engineers it’s plenty of power to provide punchy sound. I listened to several songs from different genres while testing the ZS-S4ip and found the Megabass gave you that kick in the back that only hard-hitting bass can delivery. Technologies such as reflex cambers and bass boost have all but been perfected by Sony, and the latest iPod blaster dips into a Sony’s large well of sound engineer knowledge.This type of stereo would be perfect for college student returning for the grueling 2nd semester, small apartment dwellers, or for those that just need a bit of portable sound in their lives. I’m thinking about strapping one onto my handlebars, and hooking the power up to a Hymini wind generator. Party on.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Asus Newest Navigator has your Safety in Mind

Asus’ newly announced R710 portable navigation device features an optional Heads-Up Display, or HUD, that helps you keep all eyes where they should be... on the road. The directions, speed and all other pertinent information is projected on the windshield. The device has the tradition touchscreen like most other navigation devices out there, as well as an enhanced Bluetooth 2.0; cementing this device as the it machine for the safety conscious.

A light-sensing chip optimizes the HUD’s visibility; making it easier on the eyes. While the microSD card slot supplies media playback that makes everything seem easier.

Asus has not announced release or pricing information, and no specific maps are available for North America, only worldwide. Russia, China and Taiwan navigation support have been mentioned so far.
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nikon intros web browser, video player, headset combo

Nikon is breaking its self-imposed mold as a producer of professional grade imaging products and venturing into PMP (personal media player) territory. This is definitely not the pocketable gear we’re use to carrying. In fact, this new gear is a totally departure from the conventional forms that PMPs take on.

The ‘Media Port’ UP300x media player is a self-contained headset unit - with a slight twist. Nikon has turned what could have been a run-of-the-mill headset into one-of-a-kind wearable computer.

They’ve achieved this status by... including Wi-Fi connectivity and mounting a retractable display on the headset. This minuscule monitor drops down in front of one eye and supplies the viewer with 640x480 video goodness. The display tucks away for music playback, or for when you’re not into looking like a robot.

The dropdown display allows owners to watch videos while on foot or on public transportation, without being entirely oblivious to their surrounding. Though, maintaining a brisk stroll with the viewer engaged seems like it would take some practice.

Embedded Wi-Fi supports web browsing with Flash and JavaScript, as well as media purchasing directly from an online store.

Another nicety on the highest-end model, which makes for a truly hands free experience, are motion sensors that activate the player’s basic controls and browsing capabilities.

Nikon is keeping this one on the island of origin, for now, launch is set for mid-December and prices are $685 for the 8GB, and $490 for the 4GB.

Supported media formats include: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and WMV for videos, and AAC, MP3, and WMA for audio tracks.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Seafaring Just Got Easier - Thanks to Garmin

Mariners rejoice, today Garmin announced a newly enhanced GPS receiver to aid in decking out your dinghy this upcoming season. Serving both practical and frivolous purposes, you can pick up this newly announced unit without the guilt associated with buying a device that only serves to entertain… if that kind of guilt affects you.

Garmin is towing the line, with the GPSMAP 640 touchscreen portable. It comes preloaded with comprehensive street and marine charts, but with a major change in the form factor. Garmin was looking to merge the look and usability of their popular Nüvi series with this highly specialized, albeit dated looking, GPSMAP portable.

For this refresh, Gamin has slimmed down the case, ditched the antenna, and beefed up the screen. The end product looks striking similar to every other PND out there, but boasts an intuitive, waterproof, 5.2” touchscreen display, with an 800 x 480 resolution, surrounded by a much thinner beveled case, and tons of tidbits for the sailor.

The docking cradles, that compliment the system, are specific to the application. Dock the unit in the marine cradle and the GPS starts up in marine mode, and vise versa for the car. This certainly beats scouring the menus to change modes.

Data presented on this meticulous monitor could save you some major headaches. Garmin’s BlueCharts has been upgraded to include shaded depth contours, port plans, wrecks, and restricted areas. Upgrade again, to BlueCharts g2 Vision, and get automatic chart plotting.

Seafarers will find endless uses for this detailed navigational information presented on the GPSMAP 640, but add the optional XM radio/weather satellite receiver, and you’ll be good to sail the seven seas endlessly - without incident or running out of tunes.

Press Release

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spotted in the Wild: The New Kindle

New Kindle
    The hopes of Kindle users will seemingly be fulfilled. Etronics Blog's piece on the Kindle 2
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Google Turns Ten

In honor of their 10th birthday, they've brought back their oldest available index. Take a look back at Google in January 2001.

They've even setup a timeline for you internet historians out there.
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Nintendo DSi announced, US Gamers Set Reminders for One Year from Now

As excepted Nintendo has announced their refresh of the DS. The Nintendo DSi.

"The displays are slightly larger, at 3.25 inches apiece, and there's an external three megapixel camera as well as a front-facing camera located on the inside hinge. The DSi has an SD slot and internal storage, photos taken on the card can be transferred directly to the Wii Photo Channel."

"Nintendo is also launching... an online "DSi Shop," which will sell content directly over WiFi, including a free browser app and "DS Ware" games. The company will offer free wireless connectivity at "Nintendo Zone" hotspots located in select Japanese McDonalds locations. As currency, the shop will use the newly-renamed Nintendo Points (formerly Wii Points). A 1000 will come free with the handheld until March 2010, and content will be priced in 200 / 500 / 800 point brackets."

"The DSi will be offered in white or black finishes, and will cost ¥18,900 ($178) when it launches in Japan on November 1st -- the rest of us will have to wait until next year." Which should be plenty of time to save up that money you make selling candy on the train.

From Engadget

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Pioneer Introduces New GPS Models

Pioneer announced four new in-dash navigation head units; two double-din receivers, the AVIC-HRZ099/88, and two single-din the AVIC-HRV022/11. All of them feature a 40GB HDD, and text-to-speech. The $2495 HRZ099, flaunts an 800x480 pixel count on its 7-inch widescreen, while the others proudly display 480x234 on the same size monitor. To optimize and tailor to each person, the new product line, dubbed carrozzeria for the Japanese market, features “My Set-up” or customizable user preferences. These are stored for quick recall.

Revolutionary networking capabilities have been integrated into Pioneer’s latest latitude and longitude pin pointers. They use... a social network-like “Smart Loop” system; where traffic information can be shared with other device users in a "smart traffic information loop". The high-end model is set-up to provide you with additional information through this network by giving you a “Smart Loop Drive Report”. Information in this report may include which route will be the most fuel efficient, or how safely other drivers are driving.

If that “smart loop” traffic info isn’t cutting it, you can flip on the TV tuner and get a traditional traffic report. TV tuners are present in all but the lowest price model of the line. While on the subject of tuners, every new model uses a signal amplifying radio tuner, for improved reception in those dark, foreboding urban canyons.

The 50W x 4-channel amp provides the top two units with punchy power, while the disc player supports CD, DVD-ROM, DVD-VIDEO, DVD-R/RW, CD-ROM, CD-DA, and CD-R/RW formatted discs. Additional media can be loaded onto the HDD through USB drives (additional equipment maybe required). Supported media file formats are: DVD, WMA, MP3, DivX, WAV, and MPEG-4, units are also iPod ready with video playback.

These are set to drop on the pacific island of their origin by Halloween night. Prices will range for $1795 to $2495. No word on when these beauties will be making landfall in Cali, and consequently blessing the rest of us with possible ownership.

Press Release

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Nintendo to Announce a Refresh of the DS Thursday

In 2004, Nintendo brought touch to portable gaming with the launch of its DS series. Since then, touch-controlled gaming has been adopted by the iPod Touch, with the additional benefit of enhanced gameplay through the Touch’s accelerometer.

With sales of DS systems falling, Nintendo is making plans to nip this possible market shift in the bud, and taking into account the fast-paced sales of games offered at Apple’s online store, Nintendo should be nervous.

Although, they aren’t quaking in their boots just yet, the fact remains that one in five Japanese own a Nintendo DS.

Nevertheless, the company is scheduled to present... an unnamed "new product" at a news conference in Tokyo, on Thursday, and the speculation is it will be a new version of the DS.

The Tokyo based Nikkei Business Daily, reports the refresh will included a camera, music player, and updated WiFi, hopefully with WAP support.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Slingbox Pro HD is Now Shipping

Are you experiencing an out-of-home HD deficiency? Wish you could watch streaming HD video anywhere you have high-speed Internet connection? If so, realizing your dream is only $299.99 away.

The "first of its kind, Sling Media Slingbox PRO-HD is capable of streaming both SDTV and HDTV"

At long last, months after the announcement at CES, Slingbox HD PRO is shipping… so, your fix imminent. "Slingbox Pro HD transforms laptops and a wide range of smartphones into personal, portable TVs.”

Supported Audio and Video Sources

  • Basic Cable TV, Set-top Box, or Digital Cable Set-top Box
  • Digital Video Recorder (DVR) such as DISH, TiVo, Comcast, ReplayTV, or one provided by your cable/satellite provider
  • DVD Player/Recorder
  • Satellite Receiver such as DISH or DIRECTV
  • Video/Security Camera
  • Apple TV
  • Windows Media Center
  • Digital Antenna
  • Digital Cable (clear QA)
  • HD component input support for 720p or 1080i
Streaming in HD-resolutions is only available for Windows.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fuji Real 3D Brings Lenticular Printing Home to Roost

Photokina has been overshadowed this week by T-Mobile/Android/HTC Dream news. Nevertheless, interesting news of advancements in photographic technology is what Photokina is all about, and the event never disappoints us photo dorks. Of the many press announcements floating to the surface, one I ran across really caught my eye.

Fujifilm has announced it’s proposed 3D digital camera system; the Finepix Real 3D system...
It's all a concept at the moment. So, I’ll try to restrain my excitement over this tech until I see it in action.
Real 3D is an inventive blend of old tech with new, it’s a stereographic twin lens camera, nothing too new about that, other than using a digital sensor instead of film. The real advancement with ‘Fuji Real 3D’ is in the camera’s LCD screen, corresponding digital frames, and the actual photos printed with the system’s lenticular printer.

No View-Master or Dorky Glasses Required

The camera’s LCD and the system’s digital photo frames have filters that effectively combine the images creating 3D illusions, without the glasses. So if you’re hoping you’ll look like the McFly hating goon from Back to the Future, Sorry.

Best of all is the printer, which uses a super fine pitch for lenticular printing, producing a 3D effect that will have more in-between images making the effect smoother and more seamless.

This whole system reminds me of these disposable 3D cameras that I used to sell. The prints from them were cool, but expensive (about $25 for 12 prints, in 1999). I’m very interested to see what price this system lands on, wherever it lands it won’t be cheap. And hey, you can always view the images on a new Panasonic 3D HDTV.

from dpreview

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Go From Rags to Riches (and back again) with Apple

Tired of seeing your hipster-savvy developer friends make fists full of cash off of the asinine game they developed for Apple’s iTunes App store? Now, you can stop complaining and learn how to do something about it.

To help encourage the admittance of more indie developer’s into this Apple beneficiary enclave, Qantm - a self-proclaimed global media college, is offering the first accredited coursework in iPhone development. The course is “specifically for designers who want to produce games and applications for the world’s most iconic instrument.”

Luckily for students, this particular college experience requires moving to some of the greatest cities in the world, outside of NYC. “Following the London launch, the iPhone course will be available in Qantm colleges throughout the world, including Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Amsterdam, Berlin and Munich.”

Don’t forget to mention Steve Demeter’s story when you pitch this idea to your financer.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Memorex intros $269 MVBD-2510 Blu-ray Player

High priced Blu-ray technology may have just bought the farm. Finally, Blu-ray players are beginning to drop to a reasonable price. Memorex has just announced their entry into the Blu-ray arena, the Memorex MVBD-2510.

Sporting a price tag of $269.95, this new offering falls in the very sparsely populated category of players under $300. Not quite the bleeding edge tech you get with a profile 2.0 player, but of those who can enjoy a movie without watching every possible extra, this will totally work out just fine.

Product Features

  • Progressive scan Blu-ray Disc player 1080p capability for higher definition video content
  • Full HD 1080p, DVD up-conversion up to 1080p (480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p), 24p, 60p video frame rate
  • Multi-channel audio content (supports more advanced Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD)
  • 16:9 / 4:3 picture select
  • On-screen graphical user interface
  • Slow motion function (2x - 4x - 8x)
  • RW/FF play function (2x - 4x - 8x - 16x)
  • VFD display


  • HDMI v1.3 digital output
  • Component video output
  • S-video output
  • Composite video output
  • Optical audio output
  • Analog 5.1 channel audio output
  • USB 2.0 input

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Review of Yamaha YSP-4000 Digital Sound Projector

Today, at one of our distributor's trade shows, I got to see Yamaha's exclusive sound projection technology in action. Admittedly, I was surprised. Their beam technology, present in the YSP-4000, is truly astonishing firsthand. I, like you, was skeptical that a sound "bar" could really give you the surround sound experience that you get with separate speakers. I found out that this technology is much better than I initially thought.

As soon as I stood in the middle of the 5-beam feed from the YSP-4000, I thought for sure they had connected some rear speakers. I turned around; only to find...

it was merely an upright sign that the sound beam was bouncing off of. This was incredible enough on it's own, but then I asked about the tech behind this sound focuser's tricks, and things got really interesting.

Rocking built-in digital amplifiers, which power 40-2W directional speakers and 2-40W stationary ones, this bar servers ups more variety than you local pub ever will. A variety of beam settings means the sound can be directed in a myriad of ways. The most useful of which is the YSP-4000’s directional mode; with this mode the sound can be directed to one area while the other areas of the room receive very little of the sound. If you love loud, but your companion would rather have quiet this Yamaha is a perfect solution. Best of all, you don’t have speaker placement and wires to contend with.

You have to get a Subwoofer to get the full home theater experience, but if you’re looking for the perfect partner for your new HD flat panel television, this is the one.

Other specs include: XM Satellite Radio Ready including XMHD surround, analog video to HDMI Upconversion, HDMI Upscaling (up to 1080i), Dolby Digital, DTS, Neural, and proprietary surround processing.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Interesting New Looks for Sony iPod Docks

iPod-mania hasn’t eased up much since Tuesday’s “Let’s Rock” event got everyone all worked up. Sony is riding this wave of excitement, hopefully all the way to the bank (they’ve been in a bit of a slump, fiscally). But, if they keep pumping out sweet iPod accessories, like these two shiny new jewels, their stockholders should see a tidy sum on their next dividend check.

First up is the latest entry into the Dream Machine line. Donning an interesting circular façade, the ICF-CD3iP will accommodate CDs, iPods, and iPhones of all descriptions. Along with an iPod dock, which charges the device, this dream of a machine will allow other MP3 player to jack in through the line in. Maybe, Sony had their line of player in mind. Other niceties included alarm time exchange between the iPods alarm and the clocks alarm, comprehensive remote, and 30 presets for your AM/FM channel surfing needs. Price is rumored to be hovering around $100, with availability reported to be some time in October.
More iPod alarm clocks

Next, from Sony, is the ZS-S4iP...

This is a Boom-box dock that completely integrates you iPod into the design of the boomer, making for a seamless look that is quite striking after always seeing iPods set apart in their companion devices. The mechanism works much like a cassette deck with an eject button giving you access to the dock. Two 2W speakers provide the aural experience, and the box takes a myriad of CD formats, in addition to the radio tuner. Look for this to be available around October as well with a selling price around $140.
More iPod Boom boxes

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Apple's New iPods are Rumors No More

Below are the new iPod ads that are already making the rounds. If you haven't heard, the freshly announced 4th gen Nanos use the accelerometer technology found in the Touch and iPhone, and Apple has ditched the 'stocky like Rocky' look, to ventured back into coveted tall, thin and skinny territory (much like Steve himself). Additionally, new colors match the artsy players to primary and secondary colors, while silver and graphite round out the newly available Nano array.

The iPod Touch got a much needed...
volume control rocker switch, but no GPS. Price cuts did happen, much to my chagrin, and range from minimal to substantial. The updated 2.1 firmware adds a playlist genius, so if you're a mix master skills aren't up to snuff, the device intervenes and helps you fill in the blanks. The Touch has always been more than a media player and Apple's marketing plan reflects their new aspirations for the device, a portable gaming system. This new ad leans toward adding gamers to the loyal music lover demographic.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

iRobot Pet Proves: You Can Teach an Old Robot New Tricks

As much as we love them, our pets tend put us into hairy situations. And, I’m not talking about getting caught not scooping the poop, either. It’s a sad fact that we humans are far too content with constantly cleaning up their hair, dander, and all the other ungodly things our pets get themselves into.

We don’t have to take it anymore. iRobot’s Roomba 530/560 just got an upgrade for those pet parents who have had enough of the endless cleanup...
The 532 and 562 (dubbed the pet series) feature beefed up sweepers and large sweeper bins that hold three and a half times the fur of the previous models.

Priced $349 and $399 respectively, the pricier 562 is clearly the better bot. For a mere $50 bucks more you’re given the option of programming the vacuum to clean on a schedule that works for you. Also, instead of the three rooms you get with one full charge of the 532, you can get one more clean room out of the mechanical maid before it saunters back to it’s charging station.

The Roomba Pet series effortlessly cleans your home’s floors, giving you more time to enjoy the fun part of being a pet owner. These should arrive on our warehouse shelves very shortly.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T500, 10MP Digital Still Camera with High Def Video Capture

With the announcement of the Sony Cybershot DSC-T500, Sony’s popular T-series gets a big boost this season. High Definition (720p @ 30fps) video capture has, at last, reached this ultra-compact series. Along with the higher resolution, you’ll have: a choice between wide and full screen recording, up to 10 minutes of recording time per clip, and MPEG4 formatted files with AVC/H.264 codec for video compression and stereo audio files (this keeps files surprising small). In addition, to HD video recording, the Cyber-shot can also capture up to three stills during your youtube uploadable ten minute video shoot.

Most other features are pretty run-of-the-mill (for a t-series model), face detection, large LCD touchscreen, and an ISO of up to 3200. Couple all these features with a newer Carl Ziess 5x optical zoom lens (33-165mm) sporting optical image stabilization, and you’ve got a unique and formidable photo producer that you’ll be proud to brandish.

Press Release

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Apple Event is On

Apple's invite...
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Google Chrome: a Fair, Smart, Safe, and Different Web Browser

Later today, for us on the east coast, Google will launch a completely different type of browser. Chrome is an open source browser that takes a fresh approach to dealing with web page content. Based on the web as it exists today with all the apps, and interactiveity that wasn't there 10 years ago.

Google's supposed internal document explaining the product, a 38 page comic, was first leaked and is now linked to on Google's blog.

With chrome everything is confined and processes execute in their own environment, meaning any JavaScript will load externally in it's own space. Your browser will continue to load anything after the script. Even if the JavaScript process fails the page won't.

And since processes are confined they can also be easily quarantined, thus improving machine security.

The folks at Google use the web just as much, if not more, than we do. So the underlying concern here is an overall improvement in its functionality. To that end, the Gears team built its API into Chrome.

The Gears API's goal, is to improve all browsers. This means, anything that works well will be adopted by Chrome. At the same time, if deemed worthy by others, these native apps developed over web apps will become standards available for all browsers, because it's open source.

Update: it's live!
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Sony Blu-ray Home Theater System BDV-IT1000

Sony’s European press centre has a release that may interest those of you shopping for that new Blu-ray Disc Home Theater in a Box. This is Sony’s first crack at marketing a Blu-ray HTiB, even though they are the main innovators of this tech. As a result, many loyal fanboys have been waiting impatiently for an announcement along these lines. While under development, Sony appropriately code-named the project ‘Pockey’, which is a chocolate dipped cookie stick. This perfectly describes the stick-like speakers that complement the aesthetically pleasing style of this sleek system. Providing the power to blast is a 700w 32-bit amp, with integrated BD player. That should be enough power to blow your socks, hats, shirts, and pants off.

Spec sheet after the break...

BDV-IT1000 at a glance

* Super-slim speakers made possible by finger-sized full-range drive units
* All-in-one home cinema system with integrated Blu-ray Disc drive
* Full HD 1080/24p picture quality with Deep Color and x.v.Colour
* Wireless rear speakers for great surround effects without cables
* BD-Live Ready: upgradable to Profile 2.0 for extra content and downloadsvia Ethernet port
* DVD upscaling to 1080p
* Two HDMI input terminals for connection of games consoles, HD TV decoder boxes or other sources, and one HDMI output
* Optical digital and analogue stereo inputs. Also composite/component video in
* Upconversion to HDMI for analogue sources
* Fast, perfect ‘one-touch’ set-up with Digital Cinema Auto Calibration
* BRAVIA Sync for integrated operation with other Sony components
* XrossMediaBar onscreen display for simple, logical operation of all functions
* Connectivity with Network WALKMAN® and iPod® players, Bluetooth devices and home Wi-Fi networks via DIGITAL MEDIA PORT, plus Portable Audio Enhancer
* 700W total power: 5x100W plus 2x100W for subwoofer, using efficient, high-quality 32-bit S-Master digital amplification

Press Release

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nikon D90 has Arrived to Advance your Artistic Tendencies

With the newly announced D90, Nikon is finally blazing new trails in digital photography (after playing catch-up for years). Recently, Nikon has been: developing their own sensors that push the limits of low-light sensitivity while producing less noise, improving their Vibration Reduction (VR) lenses to the allow sharp handheld shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/15 of a sec, and, the biggie, integrating HD video recording w/sound (720p @ 24fps) into the D90, a DSLR first.

The HD video files are formatted in AVI; these are easily imported in most video editing software. 5 minutes per video clip is all you get, and the camera can’t adjust the focus automatically while recording, because the mirror is up, but that doesn’t stop you from manually adjusting the focus through live view, if you're up to it.

Other cool new features include the an HDMI port, simulated Fisheye Effect, Straighten, Distortion Control, and up to five faces can be detected with the face detection software. Once the faces are identified the photographer can then press the zoom key to quickly verify that the focus was accurate; something portrait photographers will love.

The D90, the top model of the DX format cameras in Nikon's line, is set to drop in a matter of weeks. The body will be sold for at or around $1000, while the kit, with the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-105 f/3.5-5.6, will sell for around $1300. I think I've found my new backup cam to the D300.

A Video of Chase Jarvis and his lucky crew that got a sneak preview, playing with the new Nikon D90 after the break.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kindle, Out of the Boardroom and into the Dorm

Amazon’s latest ploy to sell the online retailer's far from red-hot e-reader, Kindle, may be the marketing strategy that finally gives the device the wings Bezos seeks. Target: college students. They have to buy books, and at the beginning of each semester the college bookstore is no picnic, it’s pandemonium – pushy crowds, long lines, and overworked stockers. Wouldn’t it be nifty it hop on the Sprint EDVO network and download the textbooks needed right to your Kindle, for less? Not to mention the environmental savings, or the money saved on publishing.

The latest incarnation of the Kindle is set to drop around September or October, at the much more reasonable price of around $249 or $299; making it the perfect second semester Christmas gift for that diligent student on your list. Along with a bigger screen and a slimmer, sleeker case, the rumors have also suggested the reader will have a, much needed, updated interface, and larger keys with better placement. The hope is Kindle will jump several generations with these advancements. Making a final product seem more like a 4th gen device than a 2nd. Time will tell.

But, if history is any indicator...
Amazon may have a hard row to hoe. Book publishers have noted the number of electronic copies of books sold has declined while hard copies remain steady, and the New York Times hasn’t had a run on subscription through Kindle; stating, they’ve seen a ‘very small number’ of subscription since it’s launch. Add to that, the fact that I never see folks sporting these in NYC, and I really wonder who’s buying these things?

The college crowd is a fickle demographic, but get them in your corner and you can start shopping for that summer home. Amazon will have to be aggressive at promoting the advantages of this system over an iPod or laptop, in order to capitalize on a student's limited resources. I read the NYT everyday on my iPod; it’s free, and great for me. I’m the kind of reader they should be convincing. Just stick to you guns Amazon, if you'll know how to sell anything it’s books.


Update: Drop date speculation has been confirmed to be false by Amazon spokesman Craig Berman. Source: NYT
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Apple Rumors: New iPods, iTunes 8, and a Price Drop?

Digg.com’s founder Kevin Rose: is either - quite well connected, lucky enough to get random emails by Apple insiders, or is just looking for blog traffic. Really, it’s probably all three. A self-made gentleman of the blog-o-sphere, Rose is taken quite seriously by most bloggers and podcasters, as his information is the stuff of dream posts. Hard hitting, late breaking, unconfirmed tech rumors… revealed.

We bloggers crave this type of inside track so badly that we’ll believe most anything. Rose revealed on Sunday’s “This Week in Tech” that he has received unsolicited anonymous emails, which included...

PDF files of reference photos and technical specs for the new nano. The photos released, show a rounder, thinner, and longer body design, in addition to a wider screen. Who knows if the emails are from people working for or with Apple on the latest iPod nano design, but the information is thought to be creditable.

Rose also wrangled up some insider info on the iTunes 8 release, however remained tight lipped about the purported new features, in hopes of avoiding ridicule if his information is found to be false. Of course, that’s silly because people are going to ridicule and discredit him, either way. He also won’t release the full photos of the nano with the technical specifications attached to protect the sources anonymity. OK, then. So we should just take his word for it? Seems as if.

Rose also added what seemed to be his speculation of an impeding price drop. Making the assertion that the current iPhone price, of $199 w/ two-year contract, has been taking sales away from regular iPods.

I personally never really considered buying an iPhone, the service contract always seemed like a rip off, so I bought the iPod Touch, no contest, no debate, no wavering. It seems counter-intuitive that Apple would readjust their entire iPod line's price point to match a discount that is given when a two-year contract is signed. I don’t see it happening… good thing we’ll only have to wait a few weeks for all to be announced (Sept. 9)
. I hate not knowing whether I'm right.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Sony's S-AIRPLAY Helps You Play Harder

Sony knows where there’s a party - there’s an iPod, and their latest product announcement just made large soirees a little easier to throw (at least in the music department). With the new S-AIRPLAY system, Sony has made multi-room audio practical, inexpensive, and a cinch to setup.

Using their own S-air wireless technology, which has garnished user praise for...

its high bitrates and resistance to outside interface, iPod tunes or radio transmissions, can be transmitted from the main docking station to the satellites speaker/receivers situated in other rooms; up to 10 at once.

The main docking unit also sports RCA interfaces for connecting up to a television, helping you get the most out of those downloaded videos. Each satellite speaker has a source select. Using the S-AIRPLAY system’s dual source feature, any unit can bypass the iPod audio, in favor of radio transmissions, while other satellites continue playing iPod audio.

Satellites also handle remote control over the iPod track selection, and even incorporate the standard clock radio functions of a sleep timer and alarm; making them a great addition to your nightstand. The AIR-SA20PK will arrive in warehouses next month; MSRP is set at $400. We can do better than that…
check the main site for a great deal on this and more Sony products.
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