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Archive for the 'Gadgets' Category

Hands On: Tony Hawk RIDE

( Gadgets and PAX 09 )

So this is the game with the crazy plastic skateboard. I got to watch it being demoed by an Activision guy – and then saw some journalists fall off. Repeatedly. The level of enthusiasm wasn’t exactly overwhelming to be honest (even N’Gai just wanted to watch the demo).

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Squeezebox Boom

( Gadgets and Music )

A few weeks ago Slim Devices (now part of Logitech) released their latest network audio player, the Squeezebox Boom. In a departure from previous designs this model includes a built in amplifier and speakers, making it a great portable music source. Anyone who knows me probably knows of my Squeezebox obsession, and I’ve been testing this new one for a few months now.
The design is clearly aimed for three situations – the kitchen, the bedroom and outdoor use. The Squeezebox functionality works very much like the previous models (excellently) and as usual there are lots of neat design details such as a magnet in the remote so it will stick to the fridge door.
Sound quality is, for a device this size, amazing. Forget the Bose Waveradio, the custom DSP processing in Boom manages to squeeze exceptionally flat response over the full frequency range – and for times when you want a little more boom, there’s a connector to add a subwoofer.
From a portable point of view I’ve taken to running it outside during cookouts, synced to the indoor system so the music sounds great everywhere. Being able to plug in one power cord and having access to all your ripped CDs, radio and online services such as Pandora and Rhapsody is great – even in a house with as many Squeezeboxes as mine!

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Tivo Series 3 Gets Un-gimped (at last!)

( Gadgets )

So the Tivo Series 3 (and the new, cheaper TivoHD) are awesome. The only problem is that there are some great features which are present on the older Series 2, but not on the newer machines. These features include things like Multi-Room Viewing (watch a recorded show on a different Tivo than the one which recorded it), Tivo-To-Go (download a recorded show to a computer/portable device) and the ability to stream your own video content to the Tivo.

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iPhone: Two Months On

( Gadgets )

So as promised, here are some random thoughts on the iPhone now I’ve been using it for a couple of months.

First, the good stuff:

  • The interface is awesome. It looks great, of course, but it also works amazingly well. The response is usually very snappy, and the animation is smooth as silk. That’s not unusual for high end applications on full-sized computers, but it’s completely unheard of on a handheld device. I know a lot of people think the iPod interface is pretty snazzy (I’m not one of them!) but this thing blows it out of the water. The closest I can think of is the PSP’s menu system, but even that doesn’t really come close. All the little graphical flourishes add so much to the overall experience – delete an item and watch it get sucked off the screen, attach a photo to an email and watch the image shrink while the blank message comes up from behind it – it’s all 3D and feels like a flash demo rather than a real product. iPhone makes even the latest version of Windows Mobile, Symbian or Palm look like Windows 3.11.

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Seam Carving

( Gadgets )

I just watched a short presentation (quicktime video) about a new technique for image resizing called “Seam Carving”. Typically images are shrunk either by simply scaling – which can make them hard to see or understand; or by cropping – which causes a loss of content, and even meaning in some cases. This new technique is essentially a very smart crop, which figures out which parts of an image are less important and removes those first. The end result is amazing to watch, the software seems to magically recompose the important parts of the image (people, buildings, etc) into a smaller space without visible distortion. Very cool stuff.

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PS3 Reduced to $499

( E3 and Gadgets and Videogames )

So we now all know what we already knew, the PS3 has been officially cut in price by $100 to $499 for the 60GB model. Taking up the slack in the upper atmosphere is the new 80GB model (as previously seen in Korea) for the original bargain price of $599. If $100 seems like a large difference for just 20GB, Sony seem to agree so they’re also throwing in a copy of Motorstorm. Still seems a little bit of a stretch to me – I think I’ll wait until the heavily rumored rumble controllers come out. Oh and, you know, some decent games to actually play on the thing.

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TiVo Series 3 Review

( Gadgets )

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to watch TV without a DVR. My memory for schedules and lack of tolerance of commercials makes regular live programming a bit of a nightmare. The problem is, I also like HDTV and subscribe to cable – which rules out the most common solutions (TiVo, ReplayTV, MythTV, MediaCenter etc) as they all lack either the ability to decode the encrypted signal or the ability to record in HD. The only choice was the DVR offered by the cable company themselves, the Scientific Atlana 8300HD. Alas, it sucks. Completely. It’s slow, unreliable, hard to use and lacks many basic features. I wouldn’t wish this abomination on my worst enemy.

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William Kamakwamba’s Windmill

( Gadgets )

William & his Windmill19 year old William Kamakwamba from Malawi has a blog. Given the infrastructure in that country that’s no mean feat on it’s own, but the subject he has chosen for his first few posts is the windmill he built next to his house using an old bicycle and plans from a donated American middle school text book. This windmill, costing something like US$10, is now providing power for his family and neighbors in the middle of the African scrub. It’s a great and inspirational story.

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iPhone

( Gadgets )

Just picked up the new Apple iPhone yesterday. As with the 770 I’ll be back with more comments soon, but initial impressions are below. It’s a very fun little thing!

  • Screen is awesome

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Nokia 770

( Gadgets )

Thanks to the greatness that is woot, I recently picked up a sweet little Nokia 770 handheld internet tablet for a bargain $130. First impressions are good – the screen is great, the software seems to work nicely and the wireless was essy to setup. I’ll post more thougts on it soon.

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