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05.31.2007

Smart Robotic Lamp

Posted by Evan    Category: design
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05.31.2007

Update: The BlackBerry Curve arrives today.

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Evan just alerted me that the BlackBerry Curve goes on sale today on the AT&T (once Cingular) website and in their various retail outlets.

At first, I had written off the Curve in my search for a smartphone because it doesn't come with 3G. However, now I'm giving this follow-up to the BlackBerry Pearl a second look. With a full QWERTY keyboard, 2 megapixel camera with a 5x zoom lens, and impressive slim design, it doesn't feel as clunky as most smartphones, while coming packed with features. 3G might not be the deal breaker I thought it once was.

The BlackBerry Curve will be available for $199.99 with a 2 year contract and online discount.

Posted by Ray    Category: cell phones
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05.30.2007

Microsoft Surface: touch sensitive table

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Touch screens are all the rage, as seen with the upcoming iPhone from Apple. Not to be undone, today, Microsoft has just introduced a touch screen table that they are calling "Microsoft Surface." A key feature is that it has multi-touch, so that many users can interact with the screen at the same time. Initial customers are Harrah's Entertainment, Starwood Hotel and Resorts and T-Mobile. It is reminscient of the work of Jeff Han from New York Universty that was seen all over youtube.

Check out the demo videos on the Seattle PI website for examples like digital menu ordering, photo editing, and painting.

Posted by Ray    Category: design
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05.30.2007

Palm Foleo - the mobile "companion"

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I'm unapologetically a Palm lover. Despite the death knell that has been clanging for years now about the aging OS and clunky hardware, I've been a faithful Treo user for years and years. That's why I was so hopeful when I heard about the "major major" announcement of a new Palm device. I had dreams of a total iPhone killer- something with onboard GPS, a super-slim form factor, with amazing media player features.

See the picture above? The new Palm Foleo isn't the Treo in the photo, something that might be beautiful and sleek and ready to jump out of the dark shadows of that photo to show off its almost paper thin silhouette. No, it's the device, looking much like a stripped-down laptop, that's next to the Treo. It is, in fact, a stripped down laptop, running Linux, which is kind of puzzlingly being deemed a "smartphone companion." It seems to me sort of akin to giving a little baby a blue whale as a pet. It is aimed at being the go-between of phone and computer - providing a bigger screen and full-size keyboard, but really not all that much else. At 2.5 lbs, the Foleo is bigger than some ultra portables which have an optical drive built-in.

The advantages over a standard notebook computer? It powers on and off instantly. Hmm. I'm actually at a loss as to what else. Even though a companion device brings to mind something smaller which adds a bit of functionality, the Foleo is pretty much crippled without a smartphone, it's just a big, fat, kind of dumb companion. It has connectivity options: wifi, but not WWAN, although there is a bluetooth connection so you can connect to your phone's data connection.

Continue reading "Palm Foleo - the mobile "companion""

Posted by Mia    Category: devices | highlights
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05.30.2007

DRM-free tracks on iTunes Plus

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For music lovers, the Apple launch today of iTunes Plus, is bigger than the descent of the iPhone from the heavens. The new option for iTunes customers features DRM-free (digital rights management) music tracks that offer - for $1.29 per song - high-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for "audio quality indistinguishable from the original recordings." Figure that the tunes plus will have twice the sound quality of existing downloads. And as you, the all-important consumer, know, DRM-free tunes mean you can listen to them on any device or platform.

If you look closely at the slections, you'll notice they only have the rights to EMI’s digital catalog at the moment, but considering that includes artists such as Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, John Coltrane, Robbie Williams and more than a dozen of Paul McCartney’s classic albums available, it's a good start.

“Our customers are very excited about the freedom and amazing sound quality of iTunes Plus,” said god, I mean, Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year.”

To upgrade your library of previously purchased EMI content to iTunes Plus tracks, it'll cost you just 30 cents a song and $3.00 for most albums. To go to iTunes Plus, go the iTunes store and they'll prompt you to upgrade to iTunes 7.2.

For more information, check out the Apple press release.

To hear today's webcast, click here: EMI.

Posted by Evan    Category: current affairs
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05.30.2007

TeddyCam - Baby Monitoring System

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Alright, when I first got this TeddyCam Baby Monitoring System, which is just as cute and cuddly as it looks in the photo, my first thought wasn't of spying on a nanny, the purpose for which I believe this was originally intended. No, I was thinking I could spy on my husband in the home office or watch my daughter and her friends in her room. But I'm a better person than that (but not by much apparently) so I gave it to my neighbor, Stephanie, who has a beautiful baby boy, Carson.

She reported that it was an easy set-up,and since there are no wires between the TeddyCam and TV, she could monitor her baby on the TV, without hassling with wiring. (A built-in 2.4GHz transmitter sends video signals to the receiver you connect to your TV.)

Since the bear is outfitted with an advanced baby monitoring system (the camera is in the nose) you can relax in your living room with a huge image of your little one on the big-screen TV and the TeddyCam fits perfectly in with all the other stuffed toys in the nursery.

Because it's a wireless system, you can use the TeddyCam in any room of your house, so long as there's an AC outlet nearby, and a TV within 100' to 300' (range varies, depending on the layout of your home).

The TeddyCam is built with a 1/3" CMOS black & white camera, with 582 lines of resolution and an incredibly low minimum light level of 0.5 lux - perfect for capturing images even in low-light situations, such as a nursery. It also includes a four-channel 2.4GHz receiver, complete with a directional antenna, as well as two AC power adapters and an A/V cable that connects between the wireless receiver and your TV.

My girlfriend was concerned that Mr. Teddy was warm to the touch, but here is what I heard back from Smarthome Category Manager, Brian McCullough about the TeddyCam:

It's OK for the TeddyCam to get warm but it shouldn't get hot to the touch. Electronics typically get hot and need ventilation. Due to the nature of the TeddyCam, the camera is hidden and thus enclosed. It's going to get warm because the camera can't exhaust heat easily. There is no danger.

Stephanie much prefers TeddyCam to her old baby monitoring system, and didn't seem to harbor any nefarious plans for the Bear.

And stay tuned to Popgadget because we're giving away one of these TeddyCams in an upcoming email (but you have to be an email subscriber to qualify, so sign up for your free Popgadget emails),

The TeddyCamicon is available at SmartHome now for $53.99 (normally $59.99).

Posted by Evan    Category: cameras | home
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05.30.2007

Golden piggy microSD card reader

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Memory card readers come in all shapes and sizes these days, but I think this USB Golden Piggy one is by far the most disturbing of the lot.

What bothers me is not the device's exclusivity to microSD cards, as they're becoming increasingly popular for use with cell phones and digital audio players, or the fact that I prefer silver (well, okay, platinum) over gold. No, what makes me uneasy and carries with it the potential of keeping me up at night is - do I really have to tell you? - that this 55 x 20 x 18 mm pig needs to be beheaded every time I want to plug it into my Mac or PC's USB 2.0 port.

I don't want to be a tattletale or anything, but surely it's just plain irresponsible not to tell PETA about this.

Searching for microSD card readers?
Find it at thefind.com

Posted by Jenn    Category: peripherals
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05.29.2007

Intel announces the world's slimmest laptop

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If you are among those people who believe that beauty and brains do not go together, take a look at the latest notebook series announced by Intel (code-named Intel Mobile Metro) and you will be forced to think again.

This collaborative, no-holds-barred effort from Intel and Ziba Design has resulted in what is poised to be a trailblazer among laptops. Needless to say, Intel must be mighty pleased with the final specs. At a mere 0.7 inches thick, the notebook is the thinnest in the world, satisfying the company’s intention of making it the Razr among laptops.

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The improvements are simply iconic. Starting from the lovely colored, magnetically-attached folios that serve the dual purpose of being a fashion accessory as well as a wireless charger for the notebook. And ending at matching leather straps that you can attach to the notebook, turning it into a chic purse to carry along.

And thrown in-between (though not casually) are other irresistible features. Check emails or schedules on an external display screen attached to the folio, without even opening the notebook. Once you open the notebook, indulge in the sleek end-to-end monitor that gives you the experience of a high-end flat-panel TV. Icing on the cake is the always-on, built-in wireless internet connectivity via WiMax, Wi-Fi and EV-DO to target users on-the-go.

Taking the prohibitive cost factor into consideration, it remains to be seen whether all of these features will make it into the version that finally goes into production. I fervently hope that at least most of them do, even if it places this notebook in the luxury segment. The beauty is expected to hit (shake) the market by the end of 2007.

Posted by kanchana    Category: computers | current affairs | highlights
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05.29.2007

BodyGuardz protective film for iPods and other portable devices

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Not everyone wants to protect their iPod, cell phone, PDA or portable gaming device with a thick case that hides its beauty, however luxurious the case may be. So many devices now come in enticing eye candy colors that are meant to be shown off, not covered up. While I use leather or plastic cases for some of my other devices, my red iPod nano prefers to be naked or just barely covered in something thin and transparent.

BodyGuardz are meant for those of us who like to look at our pretty devices in their natural state. It's a transparent film that covers your device and protects it from scratches that can result from everyday handling (though, obviously, not from internal injury caused by more severe accidents) The company claims that it's the toughest film in the market. Priced $24.95, it's available for the BlackBerry 8800, BlackBerry Pearl, iPods, Treo 750, Motorola RIZR Z3, Nintendo DS Lite, Sony PSP, and many other devices.

Posted by Hoyun    Category: accessories
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05.28.2007

Every bartender wants a BottleCycler

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Some people see bartending as a fun and glamorous way to make untaxed spening money, but those thrill seekers always fail to consider the more mundane aspects of the cocktail business. Someone actually has to clean up at the end of every night, and that includes carrying out all those empty bottles. For a long while I worked at a wine bar, and it wasn't uncommon to take the glass trash out four or five times in a night. I would have treasured a convenience like the BottleCycler.

The BottleCycler is simply a steel box with a couple of blades that spin around to break up glass bottles. Bartenders place empty bottles in the top, and the bulky bottles are turned into broken glass. The blades break the glass directly into a wheeled trash can so there's no contact with the condensed glass at all. The company claims that the volume of the empty bottles is reduced by 80% - so instead of having several boxes a night to carry, there's just a single trash can to wheel out once a week. High volume bars won't be a problem for the BottleCycler as those whirring blades inside the machine can handle up to 100 beer bottles a minute.

I would be thrilled if my local Health Department would make these machines a restaurant requirement to protect against employee injuries. I've seen some pretty nasty accidents where a broken beer bottle stabbed through a trash bag on the way to the dumpster. This way hospitality employees have no chance to come in contact with dirty broken glass, and there's no way to even accidentally get caught in the bottle crusher.

Pre-crushing the bottles also helps save energy in the recycling process - smaller garbage trucks are able to carry more glass at once and they need to make fewer collection trips. The company leases their bottle crushers to establishments, and then carts away all the broken glass for recycling. Their system is a pretty big time saver for an eco-friendly nightclub as there's no need to color sort bottles. BottleCycler takes care of the color divisions using sophisticated sorting machines back at the recycling center. The system is still Australia only for now, but I'm sure that we'll see similar concepts popping up around the world in the next year.

Posted by    Category: eco
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