Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review of Sony HTIS100 BRAVIA Home Theater Micro System

Sony’s HTIS100 BRAVIA 5.1 Micro Home Theater System

Sony’s HTIS100 BRAVIA 5.1 Micro Home Theater System is really only about two-thirds micro. The system’s five, golf ball sized, satellite speakers are micro for sure, and easily concealable, but the subwoofer / receiver combo is a bit beastly. Though, considering the 450 watts it pushes, it’s forgivable that the tower is a little large.

Finished in piano black, the main unit has a 5x7cm display, five function buttons, a power switch, and is similar to a PC tower in size and appearance. The satellite speakers are cone shaped, metal, and finished in matte black with driver magnets finished in chrome. The center channel speaker has an IR sensor mounted underneath it for the remote, and all speakers have non-slip pads on their base.

The receiver rests at the bottom, while atop the BRAVIA tower there's a slightly awkward...
top mounted status display (this displays volume, mode, etc.). Recessed, the display is mounted at around a 45° angle, so you don’t have to be standing directly above the unit to read it. It should be easily readable while sitting at a comfortable TV viewing distance. This tower unit would fit well in an entertainment cabinet, but it’s also stylish enough to show off.

50 watts drives each of the satellite speakers, and given their size, they’re surprisingly powerful and have superb clarity; perfect at reproducing trebles and some higher range midtones. The 5" Mid-Driver and 6" Subwoofer mounted in the main tower fill out the system's sound.

I can’t really speak to another reviewer’s claims that the system’s reliance on the tower for so much sound reproduction makes the overall system sound unbalanced. The speakers were all close together when I tested the system, but I could hear vocals clearly through the center channel speaker, and overall the system thumps. Even at the loudest setting the system never distorted and the sound remained punchy and incredibly clear. I was quite impressed. Then again, when you’re dealing with this much power - it pretty much has to sound good.

The BRAVIA HTIS100 acts as an HDMI hub, allowing up to three HD components to be run through a single output. Video and audio from HD sources passes through the receiver in tact, as it supports the latest sound decoders as well as 24fps at 1080p.
System tested using the supplied iPod cradle (TDM-iP1) and an Apple iPod touch 8 GB playing Biggie’s "Kick In The Door"

Optional wireless rear-channel (WAHTSA1) and multi-room CD quality audio (AIR-SA10) supported with the addition of Sony’s S-AIR wireless technology.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

MiniEV Plans Put on Hold?

Mini Cooper RacingDriver's seatFriday I sent an email to Mini USA inquiring about the electric version of their popular Mini Cooper, or the MiniEV. I simply asked, 'How do I pre-buy a MiniEV?' The response I received was a vague form letter that raised many more questions than it answered...

Plans had called for a next summer release, possibly only in Cali!? According to Autobloggreen's diligent reporting we now know further announcements are excepted later this year, possibly around the time of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

from Mini:
-"Due to the unexpected, overwhelming response, MINI is currently reviewing our plans regarding the evaluation, test drives and distribution of the new MINI EV. Right now, it's not determined yet and details will be released with plenty of time for our customers to take advantage of this new technology. Regrettably, no further information is available at this time."

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Cut and Paste on iPhone with Magic Pad

MagicPad software from Proximi finally brings copy and paste to the iPhone. Something Apple developers have been apparently ignoring forever, gee thanks geeks. MagicPad also allows rich text editing. Colors, strikeouts, underlines, bold, italics, as well as various fonts at different sizes can be applied to any typed text. Now don’t go getting all excited and run over to the app store just yet, ‘cause Apple is still mulling over whether or not to offer the new app to us. Huh?

The only other small consideration… you can't carry the clipboard to other apps. Other than that MAJOR drawback, the app seems very promising. Text formatting is emailed in tact and the app is super simple to operate. Peep the demo video after the break…

via Company Site... Apple iPhone Apps

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Samsung's Latest Hybrid HDTV/Moniters

Samsung 22” HDTV widescreen monitor w/ ATSCFew hybtid devices make as much sense as these.

Samsung has just started shipping a hybrid that many saw coming from a mile away. They have just released their latest line of wide format computer monitors that will include an ATSC/ Clear QAM digital tuner built right in. The T220HD (1680x1050), T260HD, and T240HD (1920x1200) will be able to pick up the over the air or cable HD broadcast signals that most major stations already transmit.

The hybrid display offerings will range from 22 to 26 inches making them perfect for a monitor upgrade - with the added benefits of being a TV. The addition of an ATSC tuner will also take care of that pesky DTV transition. Samsung doesn’t skimp on inputs either. The new line sports more connections than a presumptive presidential candidate, with composite video, DVI, component, TV (digital TV / analog TV) and front and rear HDMI input. If only I didn’t own an iMac... On second thought, I could go for a totally unnecessary second display, I need a new TV and these are sick looking.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Lumix DMC-FX37 Slim Digicam

The latest slim cam from Panasonic's Lumix line features everything one should expect from the brand that many professional photographers carry, as their compact. The FX37's 10.1 Megapixel performance is coupled with an 5x zoom ultra wide-angle 25mm lens. This is unique. I sold cameras for six years and never saw any compact, film or digital, that went beyond 28mm. The panny almost has a fisheye lens compared to other point and shoots.

Lens range is the real selling point here, but there are many reasons to love the FX37. This all inclusive panny will also give you 2.5 fps, auto image leveling and full HD video.
Panasonic DMC-FX37
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Free Gas Sound Good to You?!, a new startup out of Cali, will pay you in petrol for allowing them to advertise their partners on your car. (Sorry Hummer owners, they don't accept your vehicles into their program for obvious reasons.) We’re talking about those sticker ads you’ve seen on buses and vans, usually for the next hot album to drop or something similarly youthful. Up until now people have been given cars to compensate them for being driving advertisements.

Free gas has just recently become a more viable payment, and these brokers of marketing material have certain vehicles they give preferential treatment to. Cars with a youthful appeal and those that have a whole lot of vertical real estate, such as the Sicon xB, are the prime candidates. is completely inventive, brilliant, and insidious. They’re paying people with the one thing that is essential to getting their partner’s advertising in front of more eyes – GAS. Do ya think free gas might change people driving frequency?

Don’t think they're not going to be keeping an eye on your car and their ads, they have hired a firm to track the movements of their leased advertising space, in the name of protecting their partner’s brand image. Would it really hurt to be associated with mayhem? What if the white SUV in the OJ chase had an Oreo ad on it? Would people have stopped buying Oreos?

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Coby makes HD Radio Affordable

Coby HDR-700 and HDR-650Due out this August are two HD radio receivers, the HDR-700 and the HDR-650, from that value brand we’ve come to love – Coby. These latest Cobys aren’t quite the $5 headphones - stocked at your local bodega - that you’re used to picking up. These HD radios pack some serious sound in a seriously small package.

The HDR-700 is a portable cordless tabletop HD radio with an integrated rechargeable battery and splash-proof casing, making this Coby the perfect travel companion. The portable tuner/player sports an SD card slot for MP3 playback and, of course, is able to pick up crystal clear free HD broadcasts – anywhere. Price to move with you at $149.

The HDR-700’s partner in tuning is the component HD radio receiver, the HDR-650. Its brushed aluminum casing and diminutive stature allows it to easy assimilate into any stereo system. The alarm and sleep functions let you wake or rest to perfectly clear brilliant sounding audio. Sure you’ll have some ads to contend with, but what’s the alternative… paying for radio transmissions? No Thanks, I'll just pay $99 bucks for this little guy and have all the radio programming one person can handle.

Press Release

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Sony's Latest Standalone Blu-ray Players

Try as the might; Sony just can't seem to make a standalone player that competes with their own Playstation 3. Something tells me they're really not trying that hard. Their latest player the BDP-S350 is priced the same as the Playstation 3 40GB at $399.99.

It only makes sense they'd rather you purchased a video gaming system that takes more than one media. When you buy a Playstation your not gonna just watch movies on it. Your gonna get some games too, even if your not a gamer per say. So the licensing royalties made off those Playstation games roll in. Plus, you need a remote and another controller right off the bat.

The initial reports on the player from the frontlines...
make it seem that Sony's tryin’ to pull one over on us. Hands on reporters had noted the cheap feel of the new unit and felt the asking price was inflated. Sure they’ve inflated the price, why not? It’s a new technology that people will fork over big bucks to be a part of.

Prices will come down. I think some technology reporters are getting too use to the pace of blogging and expect the world to follow suit. Sorry guys the market and the market alone will decide when the price can fall, and not even Sony can make more people buy these things.

Press Release

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Google Phone to Launch on T-Mobile

October 1st is the alleged launch date of T-Mobile’s own 3G network. Coinciding with TMo’s 3G launch is the first Google phone, the HTC’s Dream, which has been running Android for months. Dream is a top contender to dethrone the iPhone.

When TMo's network goes live, it will be the only competing network to AT&T’s HSPA network, but the high might be short lived - as many other Google partners have similar phones and launch dates in mind.

Considering the apparent consumer appetite for new phone technology seems even this slight edge on the competition could translate into huge numbers for T-Mobile. I couldn’t tell you if they’ll be a run on these phones, Apple fans are a special breed, but I think there are many more people anticipating a Google phone then had anticipated the iPhone release. How willing they will be to go for a relatively unknown brand, HTC, remains to be seen.

Latest Demo Vid after the break...

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

‘Look Ma No Cams’, Lasers Record Radiohead’s Latest Music Video

Real-time 3D recording had eluded us – until Aaron Koblin, Scott Hessels, and Gabriel Dunne (a group of researchers at UCLA), inspired James Frost to direct the world’s first music video shot entirely without cameras. Instead he used a LIDAR Laser and a geometric texture-mapping laser (for facial closeups).

His inspiration came from a project called “Celestial Movements”. With this project the aforementioned researchers used lasers to record the movement of manmade aerial vehicles in the night sky. They then compiled data sets into one image, or animated still images to create stunning visual representations of the data. But, rather than being strictly creative, this project “combines science, statistical display, and contemporary art”.

The first purely creative endeavor using 3D laser imaging is this new effort from Radiohead, the video for "House of Cards". Known as innovators, Radiohead was the obvious choice for real actualization, especially because James was in tight with their manager. Realizing this piece required two rented lasers, teams of technicians, and scores of quad cores. Luckily, the moneymen trusted James’ vision.

The end result definitely has a psychedelic vibe, psychedelia for the post-information age. It reminds me of the old Amiga Video Toast effects from early nineties videos. The similarity isn’t the look of the laser’s effect, but rather this video, like toast effects, is the earliest implementation of an exciting new tool for video artists. Still in it's infancy, it holds so much promise to inspire innovation.

Think you can do better with your own 3D rendering software? Download the original CSV files and prove it. Or just get a snippet to play with till you get board of it.

"Making of.." video after the break.


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Friday, July 11, 2008

Apple has first day jitters in NYC

Here at the 14th St Apple store in Nyc, the activation computers apparently went down, leaving many would be iPhone buyers stranded outside - prompting the store to hand out Apple golf umbrellas to beat the heat, of course they're black.

Upon arriving I noticed an impromptu on-the-street unboxing. When I asked "how long did you have to wait" I got a reluctant response, "too long, 8hrs". Obviously he wasn't proud of it.

Damn... is a phone worth that much of my time - No way. I ask a salesperson if he thinks they'll sell out like the last release. He says Apple stopped the supply of the first iPhone due to unlocking issues and jailbroken phones, "[Steve] wants us to have this phone". The thing is, I just need a phone - mine went for a swim on the 4th, guess I'll go another weekend without. They'll have more Monday.
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garmin Says: Get Out There

Some of us fight it - but let’s face it - summertime is best spent outdoors, not mouse clicking. Garmin wants to help us get out there this summer. Their new Oregon series of handheld GPS receiver is specifically designed for some serious trekking and adventurous fun.

Designed to suit the demanding needs of outdoor, marine, and fitness enthusiasts the new Oregon series handhelds retain the rugged engineering of their predecessors, the Colorado series, while adding simplicity of use via a bright responsive touchscreen.

Maybe your buddy has some data on his Colorado or new Oregon you like to grab? Good thing these directionally enlightened devices wirelesses exchange tracks, waypoints, and geocaches between other Oregon units and Colorado models.

The new series has five distinct models to choose from –this way you only pay for the maps and info you’ll use. All model sport an SD card slot for having their mapping data updated. Model breakdown after the break…

“The Oregon 400t gives hikers preloaded U.S. topographic maps in state-of-the-art 3D elevation perspective. The Oregon 400i offers anglers shoreline details, depth contours and boat ramps for U.S. inland lakes and navigable rivers. The Oregon 400c is a saltwater specialist, providing chart coverage for the coastal U.S. and Bahamas. The Oregon 300 features a worldwide basemap with shaded relief. The Oregon 200 provides a basemap that can be easily supplemented with additional mapping or charts for your adventures on land or at sea.”

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Panasonic's Waterproof VideoCam for the Extreme

Surf, sand, and snow - are things that camera users traditionally shy away from, but our ravenous appetite for videos of our lives demands more from manufactures. Users expect more; Panasonic has answered their call.

They've engineering the Panasonic SDR-SW20 to take what you can dish out. This scenester will go places other cameras only dream of going. The fearless filmer is SD based, has a 10x optical zoom, and sports DVD quality video to compliment it’s waterproofing (up to 4 feet) and the dust/sand proofing.

So go ahead - ski the triple diamond, or surf those ten-foot swells, just bring this panny along and the world can share in your triumph.

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Portable USB DTV Tuner for Mac

So you wanna watch broadcast DTV, anywhere you’re at - on your Pentium PowerBook or MacBook. As if, free streaming videos of low quality bootlegs, high quality network sites, VOD, and podcasts aren’t enough. Then again, no one can have too much Judge Mathis in their life?

AVerMedia was hocking their latest Volar USB DTV tuner for Mac at a Taiwanese Trade show earlier this year. To be more exact, the ones they were showing were DBV-T, the Taiwanese broadcasting standard

When they ship to the US, they will be DTV compliant. The projected US launch date is the end of the year, price is speculated to be around the same as their other USB TV tuners, about $80 or so. PC version out now.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nikon D700 is Offically Announced!

Nikon D700It’s finally happened. Nikon has released us professionals and photographic enthusiasts from DX format hell with their announcement of a full frame digital SLR, the Nikon D700 - although it may be a little late.

Many photographers that couldn’t or wouldn’t lay down five grand for a Nikon D3 still desired a full frame sensor. Thus, Nikon unwittingly forced many photographers to switch, albeit reluctantly in many cases, to a Canon. Even after decades of Nikon use the Washington D.C. bureau of the Associated Press outfitted their staff photographers on Capital Hill with Canon gear a few years back.

The Nikon D700 is still a bit pricey for your average shooter, at $2995, but what you get for all that scratch is a supped up, rugged, speed demon with a taste for action.

Making the case for Nikon

For starters, the Nikon D700 rips off 5 frames per second (up to 8 fps with the battery pack grip), has a measly shutter-lag of 0.4 milliseconds, a blazing start up time of .12 seconds, and a give me more card write speed of 35MB a second.

Improved noise reduction and a wider dynamic range coupled with an ISO range that can be stretched from it's native 200-6400 ISO sensitivity to an ISO range of 100- 25,600 means that whether you're shooting in intense light or low light, you'll cope with ease when you pack the D700.

Believe it or not, there are those of us that contract a case of “butterfingers” every now and again. Luckily for us, Nikons in the D700’s range don’t seem to mind the occasional tumble; in fact, their ruggedness is legendary among photojournalist.

Did I mention action... Nikons have the superior auto focus system, the 51 AF points, 3D tracking (to lock on to moving subjects), and 46 sensors the photographer can activate (which define a focus area) will make sure - whatever it is that your aspiring to capture, it will be in focus.

Freeing us from the viewfinder is Nikon Live View, which allows photographers to compose the subject on the LCD, something even point and shoots have always done. Sony Alpha A350 was the first DSLR with this feature. Another first, for Nikon at least, is the D700's self-cleaning sensor.

With a little extra software you can control the camera functions remotely via PC, but as for composing a shot from New York that is being photographed in Beijing, you're gonna need all little more than just software. Some assistants and superior communication skills wouldn't hurt.

these should be ready to ship at the end of the month.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Google Adsense & Creator of Family Guy Make High Budget Webisodes

Seth MacFarlane, creator of the Fox's hit cartoon comedy 'Family Guy', has a bit of time in between contracts with Fox. Even after successfully negotiating a new, nine figure, multi year contract with the media conglomerate... Seth still wants more. But, not just more money, more raunchy humor and coarse language – freed from the FCC's watchful eye over network television.

That's where his new project “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” comes in, it will be distributed on the Internet via Google AdSense, and will be free to watch ('after a word from our sponsor').

The ads will run as videos before the show or banner ads at the bottom of the video's window during the show. Using Google’s massive amount of marketing data, the cartoon shorts will be place on sites that directly target Seth’s audience of mainly young men.

The ads, at times, may be hard to distinguish from the actual content. Seth will also be animating some of the characters in the ads, added even more revenue to his coffers and AdSense’s.

MacFarlane, who will see a percentage of ad revenue, has created a stable of new characters to star in the series. These will truly be shorts; Seth described the installments as “animated versions of the one-frame cartoons you might see in The New Yorker, only edgier.”

The shorts will be served up in 50 two-minute episodes as opposed to the older Webisodes format of longer episodes broken up into short installments. MacFarlane flat rejected the older format as not making any sense saying, “Why wouldn’t you just release the whole thing at once?”

In developing this new form of distribution, Google and MacFarlane have created a Business model that allows for multimillion-dollar web-only productions, a real Internet first.

This original content distributed through AdSense means thousands of sites will be displaying “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy”, simultaneously. Opposed to only having one website where folks can go to watch, these videos will be pretty much everywhere all at once.

With AdSense, ever time a mouse clicks an advertiser gets to pay, and a consumer is exposed to their brand. Making it a winning proposition for all involved. It’s this kind of thinking that will save many media companies from succumbing to declining ratings and lost ad revenue. I’m just glad Seth MacFarlane got to Google with this idea before Rupert Murdock did.

Source: NYT

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