4800 Watt System Guarded by Dogs
Sony's 1600 Watt Xplode audio amps drove us crazy at CES. Three of them were ganged together in the trunk of this highly-modified mini-pickup truck, guarded by two Aibo Sony robotic dogs. Not shown in the picture were the hideous bits on the arms and legs of the photographer. We understand that at full volume, you can add at least 20mph to the current speed of the vehicle.
Handmark Announces Mobile Data Push
Cashier the 411 charges
Handmark, maker of numerous PDA titles from dictionaries and the Bible, announced a new push (and pull) mobile data delivery service. It's designed to provide everything from 411 services through to weather forecasts, news, market, sports, and by using their portal, there aren't any captive mobile carrier costs connected. $39.95, it works across a huge number of browser based mobiles, hand-helds, and devices that have a peer Internet connection. Two carriers we talked to claimed that the service might be illegal. if not immoral and fattening, we're sure.
Blowing Bubbles: Step's Bluetooth Boom Mike
Cone of Silence Continues
Maxwell Smart would only talk secrets under the Cone of Silence. That same principle is incorporated into Step Communication's new Bluetooth mobile headset, called the Step 1150. Its unique quality is its ability to cancel microphone noise. Anyone traveling down the road with their window rolled down knows that the breeze makes it nigh impossible to use most headphone gear. The 20 gram Step headset uses patented noise cancellation and acoustical effects to cut wind noise and other ambient noise back to allow for intelligible conversation. We tried the demo, and have to admit that the Step headset produced audio quality judged by the people that we called, as though you were calling from a closet. $99 with cable or $169 with Bluetooth.
XRay the Auto
Cutting your diagnostics
One of the great nicks comes from every automotive service shop, when they charge you for a "diagnosis". Indeed most cars made in the past seven years, and many in the past 20, have built in computers or controllers that deliver engine diagnostic codes. These codes usually have to be read by expensive diagnostics gear often provided by the auto's manufacturer. AutoXray (from MidTronics) had kit from basic (for one auto brand) to multivendor hand-held diagnostic code readers for a simple $169. While these devices can't fix problems, they can pinpoint causes and clear service engine lights (at least until the car's controller coughs another error code). Here's a way to thwart those minimum charges by getting the AutoXray kit, connecting them to your car's computer, and learning what's wrong for your self.
Rocking Hard Tape Replacement
Drop This Disk
Many portable hard drives suffer from drops. We saw Olixir Technology's mobile DataVault 3DX drive system, and had to look. Indeed this drive has a seriously hardened case about the size of a VHS tape that can take up to 200Gs of shock (half-sine wave while operating) and up to 1200Gs non-operating. The drives come in flavors from 80-250GB, with USB 1.1/2.0, IEEE 1394/FireWire and Serial ATA wiring kits available. Connectivity is available for Windows, Macs, and Linux-driven hardware. A chassis sled is available so that the drive can be dropped into a system via Serial ATA interfaces. Olixir says that their target market is tape drive replacement, but their clientele seems to find ever-more interesting uses for their drives. No longer do we need worry about tossing drives out the window, or for that matter, off a cliff. And while we're sure they won't be used as data hockey pucks, we're worried that data will soon live for ever.
The Final Universal Remote
The fight for the TV remote control may be over soon. Evolve demoed its RD1300 Guide Remote that has an LCD panel built into the remote. Choose your programme sources from their website, and you can use your notebook or IR- compatible device to download all of the programming for your favourite entertainment. Scroll the through channels and find out immediately what the programming is for each channel. You can look at the guide, and select directly. Evolve is about to start selling push content that can be downloaded to their monochrome (colour soon) remote control with logos, and so on. We envisioned commercials on the remote control, but the Evolve people laughed that one off. There were highly detailed instructions on usage with up to four devices (TV, Cable/Sat, VCR, and DVD) being highly articulate in our admittedly short sampling. Currently sold through Radio Shack, you'll see new versions soon. As we have eleven remote controls in the house, we'll be happy to retire some, soon.
D-Link and AOL to Counter MSN and MCX
You've Got Home Media
Microsoft asked the question in its marketing, "Where do you want to go today" and D-Link and MSN prime competitor AOL answered the question at CES with a new set of media services that compete with Microsoft's MSN and MCX that we described earlier.
D-Link announced a new set of wireless media players-the kind that allow TVs and stereos in the home to be connected wirelessly together. D-Link media players now allow an AOL connection to be the content source (as an example: up to 175 channels of CD-quality music) in D-Link and AOL's Digital Home concept. While not an entirely full spectrum content source, the deal allows users up to six months free [email protected] upon purchase of a D-Link Network Media Player.
The Network Media Player comes in DVD and 5-in-1 flash player models that also allow home or AOL-sourced content to be similarly shared and viewed on connected TVs and radios. Together, it's a example of how the home media center marketplace is shaping up: you'll generate your own content, share that content, and subject to third party content sources, blend content into mix- and-match ensembles for each entertainment room in the home. You've Got Content.
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