Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A segue from the Segway...

I don't really know how helpful the Segway has actually been to modern civilization... perhaps a step closer to the future as told by Pixar in Wall-E?  Maybe we really don't need our legs anymore?  But I guess the boys at Honda thought the Segway wasn't stylish enough.

Who needs a Porsche???

Imagine you and your date taking a stro...er... roll down the beach in a pair of these...

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Kind of LEGO!!!!

I love Lego!  I loved it as a kid, and I still love it now.  The blocks themselves haven't changed, all Lego blocks from way back still interlock with the current kits.  There are Lego sets for all ages.

Duplo is for toddlers, they have larger blocks and fewer pieces.

Regular Lego for kids, these would also include the franchised Lego such as Harry Potter or Star Wars blocks

Technic for teens and young adults, consisting of more complex kits and moving gears and more interactive pieces.

and the latest Lego line is Mindstorms... a robotics line complete with programmable CPU, various sensors, and mechanical parts for... well... people that know what to do with it:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wondering What To Get Your Folks For Christmas?

Still wondering what to give your folks for Christmas? Why not send them a Tech Support Care Package? From the wonderful people at Google comes 'Teach Your Parents Tech'.  A website that's dedicated to make tech simple to understand via a bunch of instructional videos.

I think this is a great site!  Quite fun to use too! Hehehehe!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recharge! A Momax Portable Battery review

I use Barnacle Wi-Fi on a regular basis.  At a mall, cafe, in my car or in areas of my building that don't get wifi, I use my X10 Mini Pro to tether my laptop, iPod Touch and iPad with Internet.  This does take its toll on the battery life of my little Android.

Although my battery can last me a couple of days with regular use, tethering is a huge battery drain.  Lugging around a charger is of no use if I can't find a power outlet to plug into, and not very pocketable.

Enter the Momax Portable battery.  There are a lot of other battery solutions out there.  And this review is more of portable battery packs in general.  Pick the portable solution that is suited to the device(s) you have.

What I likes about the Momax battery pack was that it had a micro USB plug, which can charge both my phone, or Bluetooth headset.  This also means that the chargers of my X10MP, Jabra Stone, and Momax are all interchangeable as well.  Big convenience for field/travel use.

It provides approx 1200mAh of power, which is a little over a full charge for my phone effectively doubling my battery life.  This gives me 8 full hours of tethered surfing or about 4 days of power with regular use.  Why not just carry a spare battery?  Portable battery packs allow uninterrupted use.  And having a standard charging tip, allows use on more than one device.

iPhone users may like the battery jackets instead that wrap around the phone.  These may make the phone a lot bigger but offer more usable power for the larger iPhones, and are more convenient to use since they act as a case for your iPhone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Safe To Touch. A Capdase Soft Jacket 2 Xpose Review

I'm not a fan of protective jackets.  Never had one on any of my mobile phones, iPods, or laptops.  I do have protective pouches or bags, but I take my device out when I use it.  So far, the only 2 protective jackets I own are the original Apple iPad case (but I only use it when I'm out... my iPad is out of the case when I use it at home) and my recent purchase of the Capdase jacket for my iPod Touch.

The only reason I've been looking for a case for my iPod Touch is for video viewing and FaceTime.  I needed something that could serve as a stand in both portrait and landscape orientations.  I found the perfect solution in the Capdase Soft Jacket 2.

Although I'm still not fond of having a protective jacket on my iPod, I like the fact that it's not bulky.  It's quite simple in design and the integrated kick stand works well and folds flat when not in use.  My only complaint is that the stand is a bit offset (dunno why) so it's slightly off balance when in portrait mode.  Not a big deal as long as the surface you're resting it on is sturdy.  It also comes with a screen protector (which I didn't bother installing either) and a soft neoprene pouch.  If you're looking for a simple stand solution for your iPod Touch 4, this is one of the sleeker solutions I've found.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home Theater Computers (and an HDX 1000 review)

Hooking up a computer to a TV or big screen isn't a new concept, but it's not a very popular setup just yet.  I recently tried the HDX Media Jukebox and was less than impressed.  It got rave reviews and all.  But I think the implementation, specially with the torrent system is very clumsy.  My dad decided to get one because he didn't like watching videos on his computer monitor and he didn't like having a keyboard and mouse by the big screen LCD TV.  So he asked me to set it up in their house.

The HDX1000 is not a new product.  The idea is that the media jukebox is an external hard drive and can play all the media (video, music, photo) you have in it on an external display via HDMI or Component out.  Theoretically it's a nice idea.  But the network system and torrent capabilities are less than stellar.  It's not for the average person looking to replace their DVD/BluRay player for ease of use.  The menu is a bit slow and can get frustrating at times.  Image quality and HDMI audio pass thru work great.  Only if you're watching HD content.  But if you're watching just random AVI or MPEG downloads, image processing is just OK.

It's not all bad though... for techies that have a dedicated home theater room, it is a better solution for "viewing only" situations.  The remote is fairly straight forward and works like a regular DVD remote.  It offers more functionality than your average DVD/BluRay player and has way more playback capabilities.  It functions as network storage and a torrent client (but the torrent files must be downloaded using a computer then transferred to the HDX before it can start downloading the file for you) so you can leave it on the whole day to download for you instead of leaving your computer on.  Rear connectors are also standard so connecting to your LCD, plasma, projector display and your surround processor isn't a problem.  Full connections for composite, component, HDMI (w/ HDMI audio), digital coax, and regular RCA line-outs are all found at the back.

Would I personally use it?  No.  I prefer having a full blown computer.  Image processing is much better, response is faster, and it's just more functional over-all.  But you do need a mouse and keyboard to run a HTPC like this.  And hiding all the wires and adapters can become a challenge.  I ended up designing a prototype TV cabinet specific for my rig.  It houses my Mac Mini, 4TB HDD, iPod dock, iPad dock, hidden USB hubs, M-Audio Firewire interface, UPS, DSL modem, wifi router, power strips, AV receiver, center speaker, and LCD TV all in one neat cabinet.

As for my dad, I had to set everything up and write down a list of instructions on how to operate the thing depending on the video source he wants to play.  It's not quite as easy to use as the Apple TV, but it is way more flexible.  Quality playback for HD content is excellent, specially since it supports HDMI Audio so it's a one-cable setup.

What about you guys?  Do you have your computers hooked up to your LCD TVs?  Send me photos of your rig as well! :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It's almost Christmas!  The next few posts I'll have will be some small gadget gift ideas.  Let's begin with gift ideas for the ever popular iPod or digital music player.

I've been noticing more and more people using circumaural headphones (full-sized) out in the streets.  I really do prefer how these sound over in-ears, although for travel and convenience, there are a lot of good in-ears nowadays.

The main advantage of upgrading from the included iPod earphones is almost like going from an AM radio to a full sized stereo system.

My personal fav are my AKG K240 DF mated with a Corda 2Move amp, although it seems that Jan Meier (no relation to John Mayer) no longer has crossfeed built into his smaller portable amps)  But for traveling, I bring my smaller AKG K324P or K81DJ (aka 518DJ) ... although I'm personally partial to AKG, there are many brands that are excellent, like Sennheiser, Grado, Etymotic, Shure, and JBL to name a few.  Some of the newer brands like Skullcandy, Monster and Urbanears sound decent as well, and have very funky designs too!

Seeing as how a music player is almost as common as having a mobile phone, it does make sense that the earphones, which are the most visible part of the gadget, look good aside from sounding great.

If you're planning on giving a set of earphones to a girl, they have very nice and classy designs as well.  Swarovski crystals, Lady Gaga designs, pastel colors, smoother shapes and designs and color coordinated wires/cords all help remove the industrial look that earphones used to have.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Mobile Office

Seeing as how most of you have Android or iOS devices,  I'd like to hear from all of you.  Take a photo of your mobile office IN ACTION... no "gadgets lined up on my desk at home" photos.  In a cafe, while walking, at the beach, in the woods, on a boat, by the pool, strapped to your MTB ... any place except at home or a traditional office.

Photos can be taken with any camera.  Hi-res is preferred but not required.

I want to post photos of how people use their gadgets around the world.

Photos will not be used for commercial purposes or sold, just for fun.  By submitting, you give me permission to post the photo on my blog for entertainment purposes only.  (No obscene photos please)

Please indicate the gadgets in use in the photo, type of internet connection if any, and how you use them.   And let me know if you'll allow me to use your name and country when I post the submitted photos.

ONE PHOTO ONLY!  So make it a good one.

All faces of people and plate numbers will be blurred out for privacy purposes (unless you want your face seen, then indicate that in your email as well)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Android App of the Day: Textdro

Have you ever wished you could type out SMS on your computer and press enter and have it sent via your phone?

There are a few apps that allow you to use a full-sized keyboard on your phone which I find a bit clumsy.  A more elegant way of handling SMS while at your computer is to use an app called Textdro.

The free version only allows manual connection via WiFi so you have to enter the IP address of your phone (the app shows the IP).  The paid version allows Bluetooth, and auto-wifi search.

How it works is you install the app on both your Android phone and computer (Windows, Linux and OSX).  Once installed, any new SMS coming in will pop up on your computer screen much like an IM client like Yahoo or MSN.  Simply reply and click send.  All incoming and outgoing SMS sent via Textdro is still kept on your phone.  It's as if you sent it from your handset so no worries about not having a copy of the SMS on your phone.


Past Tech Gospels

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