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All posts tagged "hardware"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nikon USA's Black Friday Sale

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 09:00 AM

Nikon has published their Black Friday Savings page, and there are some nice discounts, especially if you go for a DSLR + lens combo. Worth a look!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BUBBA|TWO: Big Network Features in a Small Package?

Posted by John Lane in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"eXcito of Sweden recently launched a follow up to their popular Debian-based mini NAS called BUBBA|TWO. I've got to say... the new incarnation has got everything I wished the original had and then some. For starters, BUBBA|TWO now comes preloaded with a streaming media server app (supports iTunes DAAP, UPnP media players, and soon Squeezebox network music players), a file server with shared user access to folders and photo galleries, improved web 2.0 inspired web browser interface, a built-in router and firewall."

The BUBBA|TWO is an interesting alternative for users who want a server at home, but don't want a full-sized computer or the setup headaches. This fanless device is nearly silent and very small (4.5 x 1.8 x 7 in) and only pulls 13 watts max, making it a big energy saver. Yet, it still manages to give you most of the functionality of a full server (firewall, router, file and folder sharing, media streaming, email, ftp, etc) using a easy to understand web based GUI interface. The only option on the device is the size of the internal hard drive, which ranges from no hard drive included up to 1 terabyte. Definitely worth a look!

Times: Is the YoYotech Fi7epower the World's Fastest PC?

Posted by John Lane in "Digital Home News" @ 04:30 PM

"Where might you expect to find the world’s fastest PC? In the air-conditioned server room of a Silicon Valley tech company, perhaps, or cobbled together by boffins at a university? The reality is different: in the showroom of an electronics store off the Tottenham Court Road in central London sits a glowing black monolithic machine, the YoYotech Fi7epower MLK1610. This desktop supercomputer, built by a small British company, is nearly twice as fast as the next most powerful PC in the world. "

This is one of the new Intel Core i7 supercomputers, showing just how fast the i7 quad core chips are (even without water cooling). The feature I find most intriguing on this computer is the use of an 80GB solid state drive as the boot device. It claims a boot time of mere seconds, using an optimized version of Windows Vista 64. I do question the terrible name, though. Try searching the web for that Fi7epower!

Blockbuster Brings Another Box to the Home

Posted by Timothy Huber in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:34 PM

"We've rubbed our eyes four or five times now, but the factual heat remains: Blockbuster -- of all companies -- has decided to dive headfirst into the movie set-top-box arena. We wanted to believe the rumors were false, but sure enough, it has joined VUDU, Apple TV, Roku and the Xbox 360 in the highly competitive market place for your digital download dollars. For a "limited time," the outfit will offer the 2Wire-built MediaPoint player for free with the "advance rental of 25 first-run movies, TV shows, foreign or classic films from Blockbuster On-Demand (previously Movielink) for $99." After that, rentals are $1.99 apiece, and a Blockbuster subscription is not required. The unit itself measures 8- x 8- x 1-inch and includes two USB ports, an SD slot, Ethernet / WiFi and an HDMI port, and it should be available at the company's website and in select retail stores very soon."

This has been rumored for a while and it hit the news today: Blockbuster has jumped into the set-top box business. While there are several other established options (Apple TV, VUDU, Tivo/Amazon, Roku/NetFlix, etc.), internet-delivered video-on-demand is still a very young market. Given Blockbuster's history, this is a logical step. The Blockbuster OnDemand library is seriously lacking, however. They only have about 2,500 movies available and it all appears to be SD content. It will be interesting to see how this whole market plays out!

Have you made a choice in the internet-delivered VOD space? Let me know in the comments.

Wal-mart Offering Low-End Magnavox Blu-ray Player for $128

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"With Thanksgiving this Thursday, shoppers will be lining up at the doors to stores on Friday for Black Friday deals. One of the best Black Friday deals I have seen so far comes from Walmart. Walmart is offering a full 1080p Blu-ray player from Magnavox for only $128. You aren't getting high-end features at that price so forget about DTS HD Master or Dolby TruHD sound like you would get from the PS3 or a higher-end dedicated Blu-ray player. Honestly though, the average consumer doesn't have the hardware needed to decode these HD sound formats, so it's not that big a deal that the player doesn't support it."

It's been said that this is the year that Blu-ray will "take off" - and by "take off" I mean actually start to gain some traction in the market, because by most accounts Blu-ray has been a sputtering, stuttering failure. Yes, it won the war against HD-DVD, but it's still getting throughly trounced by plain old DVD. Driving down the cost of the player is one important factor - I believe $99 will be the tipping point there - but the cost of Blu-ray media is by far the biggest factor keeping consumers away in my opinion.

When you go shopping and you see a new movie in DVD format, and the super-deluxe version at that, you'll probably see a price tag of around $24.99. That same movie in Blu-ray format? Likely $35 to $40. So which, as a general consumer that probably doesn't know the difference between 720p and 1080i, are you going to percieve as being the much more expensive platform? With the world economy as it is now, Blu-ray has no hope of gaining real consumer traction in the marketplace - it will "win", eventually, by simply being there when regular DVD is eventually phased out - but that will take eight to ten years.

Tags: hardware, DVD, Blu-ray

Monday, November 24, 2008

VCR 2 PC Preserves Your Memories

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 AM

"VCR 2 PC is a VHS tape player, just like a VCR, and it features a simple, easy USB connection so you can connect your computer and take your videos wherever you want them. Because it uses standard, plug-and-play USB, you only need the single, included cable to send both audio and video straight into your computer. And the included EZ VHS Converter software was designed specifically to make it easy to enjoy your videos on DVD, iPod, PSP, or computer. You can even watch videos on your compatible mobile phones!"

Even with DVDs on their way out, many people still have large archives of old VCR tapes. ION Audio's VCR 2 PC seems targeted to these people who want to digitally store their memories. There are several devices that record direct from VHS to DVD, but this transfers directly to your computer through a USB cable, much like a capture card. The only real benefit I can see paying $200 for a VCR 2 PC over more traditional video capture is the automation it offers. If you want to do a lot of unattended conversions that might be worth it, but it only works for VHS tapes. If your tapes are of the 8mm persuasion, you lose that automation since it just acts like a regular capture card at that point. Does anyone still have years of old tapes they haven't converted yet? Would this one-click solution be enough to get you convert all those tapes?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dell Inspiron Mini 9: Not The Netbook For Me

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:27 AM

This is my review video of the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, Dell's first step into the world of low-cost netbooks. The Mini 9 that I ordered has Windows XP, a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 16 GB solid-state flash storage, 1 GB of RAM, a 4 cell battery, and an 8.9 inch at 1024 x 600 resolution. The Linux-based versions start at $349 USD, and the XP-based versions start at $399. If you get the XP-based version with every option, it's about $480 USD.

There's a lot to like about the Dell netbook, but it's not without significant shortcomings from my perspective. On the plus side, the build quality is top-notch. In fact, I'd venture to say that it's the best-built Dell notebook I've ever had my hands on. It feel very solid and durable, with a fit and finish that's light years above other netbooks. Considering how cheap most other netbooks look, you might think that's not saying much, but holding the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 in your hands just feels...good. The keyboard is a bit on the small side, but that's not unusual for a netbook with an 8.9 inch screen. Read more...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook Unboxing and First Impressions

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:50 AM

This is an unboxing and first impressions video of the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, Dell's first step into the world of low-cost netbooks. The Mini 9 that I ordered has Windows XP, a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 16 GB solid-state flash storage, 1 GB of RAM, a 4 cell battery, and an 8.9 inch at 1024 x 600 resolution. The Linux-based versions start at $349 USD, and the XP-based versions start at $399. If you get the XP-based version with every option, it's about $480 USD. Check out the video below, and watch for my review to follow shortly.

Please rate the video and subscribe to our channel. Thanks for your support!

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He's still searching for the ultimate netbook.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The "Super-Secret Spy Lens" for DSLRs

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 PM

"Remember that very first time you went out with your shiny new SLR, determined to shoot some Pulitzer-worthy people shots? You know, real stuff. Candid shots of people just living their lives and doing real things completely unaware that they were on camera. It's hard. People have a sixth sense for knowing when someone's taking their photo. Especially so when you've got an SLR and a big lens pointed right at 'em. Our Super-Secret Spy Lens is the answer."

I'm not entirely sure on the ethics of something like this - taking photos of people without their permission - but I have to admire the cleverness of it. I've heard of devices like this before, but haven't purchased one. I'm somewhat tempted to buy one, because I really like candid photography, but suffer from SPS (Shy Photographer Syndrome) and can count the number of times I've asked strangers if I could take their picture (here's one example). I also wonder what it does to the quality of the image captured. Anyone used something like this before?

Monday, November 3, 2008

120Hz TVs: That Just Doesn't Look Right!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:22 PM

Chris' post on the Mitsubishi LaserVue TVs reminded me of something I've wanted to post about for a while: I really dislike the way TVs with 120Hz refresh rates look. My local home theatre store, a Visions branch, had the same movie playing on two different TVs. One was a Pioneer Kuros at 60Hz, and one was an LG at 120Hz. The movement of the actors on the screen of the 120Hz TV looked completely bizarre. I thought at first it was just one of those "you're not used to it yet" types of things, but the more I watched it, and compared it with the 60Hz that I was used to the more I thought it just looked...wrong. The movement was exaggerated and, frankly, unrealistic. This is obviously the way TVs are moving, so ultimately I might have to get used to it, but I'm sure not excited about that prospect. On 120Hz TVs, can you toggle it back to 60Hz? Where do you stand on 120Hz TVs? Did I just not give it enough of a chance? Or do things at 120Hz look as bizarre as I think they do? Sound off...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Samsung Notebooks Come to North American Shores

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 PM

"The X360 will feature 128GB of SSD storage in a system sized much like the MacBook Air at $2,499. The MacBook Air with the 64GB SSD option retails for $2,598. Samsung's X360 weighs 2.8 pounds and achieves the lightweight by using a magnesium chassis and aluminum. To compete with the cheaper MacBook Air with an 80GB HDD at $1,799, Samsung will be releasing the 160GB X460. The X460 will retail for $1,899 providing twice the storage for $100 more. Samsung is also going to be launching a line of larger desktop replacement notebooks for business users. In addition to full notebooks, Samsung will also be unveiling its NC10 netbook in America. The NC10 will retail for $499 and features a 10.2-inch LCD and 160GB of storage. Samsung's NC10 will slot right between the higher-end Asus Eee netbooks and smaller full-scale notebook computers."

I know there are quite a few fans of Samsung products out there, so I'm sure you will be happy to know you can now get them in the US without having to resort to import companies. I'll be especially interested in the specs and design/build of their netbook.

HP Mini 1000 Product Specifications

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:08 PM

Here are the specifications for the HP Mini 1000. Look for my summary tomorrow morning/afternoon of a conference call I attended on Monday. This is one netbook I'm quite excited about!

Operating System Options: Genuine Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Basic Service Pack 3 for ULCPC Program, or Mobile Internet Experience (MIE) built on Linux (Ubuntu).

Processor: Intel Atom N270 Processor (1.6 GHz)

Chipset: Intel 945GSE + ICH7M, 533MHz FSB

Memory: DDR2 SDRAM, 533MHz, one DIMM slot. On the XP Home model, the options are 512 MB or 1 GB (there's a hard limit of 1 GB due to the operating system). On the HP MIE model, options are 512 MB, 1 GB, or 2 GB. Read more...

The HP Mini 1000 Mobile Internet Experience in Pictures

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:06 PM

The HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition in Pictures

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:03 PM

The HP Mini 1000 in Pictures

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:01 PM

HP Expands Mini PC Portfolio Designed for Mobility, Social Media and Fashion

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 PM

Here's the official press release for the new HP Mini 1000 series netbooks. Look for a bunch of tasty photos to follow right quick!

"PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 29, 2008 – Following the success of its education-focused mini PC introduced in April, HP today expanded the HP Mini family with three models of a new HP Mini 1000 line. This array of minis – one of the widest offerings in the industry – addresses the needs of Internet-centric consumers, mobile professionals, always-on social media enthusiasts and fashion-forward women.

“Staying connected to your world – however you define it – is increasingly important to people on the go,” said Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager, Notebook Global Business Unit, Personal Systems Group, HP. “That’s why HP is excited to address this new high-growth market with a portfolio of head-turning mini companion PCs that are fun and easy to use.” Read more...

Monday, October 27, 2008

HP Mini-Note 1000 Pops Up: Starts at $399

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:31 AM

"HP's update to their popular MiniNote netbook has shown up on their consumer website, Called the Mini 1000, it appears to share a similar design to the older MiniNote, though it is now in a black colour. This likely means that in the move to the consumer side, HP has ditched the aluminum build for glossy black plastic like on the competing Aspire One, Dell Mini, and EEE <insert arcane model number here>. Based on the model number, it would be safe to assume it has a 10" screen, as reported by James and Kevin at jkontherun last month. While the MiniNote used a very high resolution (full WXGA, 1280x768) 8.9" screen, I would assume that the Mini 1000 (too many Minis....) has the same 10.2" 1024x600 (WSVGA) LED backlit screen as the Wind, S10, the EEEs, and whatever else. A starting price of $399 puts it a full $100 cheaper than it used to be, and at the exact price point of the Wind, S10, and EEE 1000H."

If you recall my review of the HP 2133 Mini-Note, you'll know that while I was impressed with the build quality, I was less impressed with the choice of the underpowered VIA CPU, the limited battery life, and the generally poor performance of Vista on the hardware. Speculation abounds on the exact specifications, but I agree with the above assessment: it will have a 10 inch screen, run the same 1280 x 768 resolution as the 2133 Mini-Note but be more viewable due to the bigger screen size, and will likely be using an Intel Atom CPU running at 1.6 Ghz. I just hope they can bump up that battery life, or offer a 6-cell battery that isn't too big. It's great to see HP re-vamping the Mini-Note so quickly - it's going to be a great Christmas season for netbook buyers!

Friday, October 24, 2008

MSI Wind BIOS Update Provides CPU Overclocking

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"We've long since known that MSI was a fan of overclocking. After all, just about every last one of its gaming notebooks come with one-button OC'ing courtesy of the Turbo Drive Engine technology. Now, it seems that the company is giving the spoils once reserved for the Crysis crowd to those with netbooks, or more specifically, the Wind. The freshly released (and absolutely official) v1.09 BIOS update enables simple overclocking by mashing Fn+F10, giving users the ability to push things 8%, 15% or 24% beyond their normally specified limits. Electric Feel over at ElectricVagabond has found that the update provides up to a 30% boost in performance..."

While it might seem strange to overclock a netbook, the fact that it's so easy and can be done from within Windows means that it's highly practical to crank the CPU up when you're using an application that takes more grunt. I haven't loaded up Photoshop Elements or Lightroom on my MSI Wind, so I doubt I'll be overclocking it, but it's nice to know that I can do so if I wish. I wonder what it does to the battery life though? Heck, I'd prefer to underclock the CPU once I was in Word 2007 typing up a document if it meant saving some battery life.

Canada Now Dumping Ground for iPod-Nano-That-Never-Was

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:08 AM

I wrote about the issue of the 4 GB iPod Nano that Apple created, then never announced, last month - but what I didn't expect to see was these 4 GB Nanos show up in Canada. The screen capture above is from the Best Buy Canada Web site. I'd heard rumours of the 4 GB Nano showing up in smaller European markets, but for Apple to release them in Canada - when the Apple Canada Web site doesn't even list the 4 GB Nano as a product - is decidedly curious. Apple must have made a lot of these 4 GB Nanos for them to end up here. What's kind of crazy is the price point - they're only $20 less than the 8 GB Nano, while the 8 GB Nano is $40 less expensive than the 16 GB Nano. $20 to double your storage is a no-brainer - $40 to double your storage is a bigger jump. Has the 4 GB Nano shown up in your local market?

Monday, October 20, 2008

HP Releases Two New Desktops and 25.5 Inch Monitor

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 02:00 PM

HP has released a trio of new products that are quite stylish - although I'd have preferred to see a new Slimline computer in this mix. Most consumers don't need full-sized computers like this. I dig the paint jobs on these though!

This is the HP Pavilion Verde Special Edition a6645f PC. Rolls off the tongue like peanut butter, doesn't it? I'm impressed with how much hardware they can pack into this for $579: and AMD Athlon X2 4850e dual-core CPU at 2.5 Ghz, NVIDIA nForce 430 chipset, 5 GB of DDR2 RAM, 500 GG 7200 RPM hard drive, and an NVIDIA GeForce 6150 SE graphic card. Really? A 6000 series GeForce, still? The HP Slimline computer I bought earlier this year has the same GPU, and it's not powerful enough to run the screen animations on the Zune software at full tilt - they really need to let that GPU line pass away gracefully instead of cramming it into new desktops. That one issue aside, this looks like a decent computer.

The equally long-named HP Pavilion Phoenix Special Edition a6655f PC is going to be available from Best Buy on November 9th for $659. It will ship with an AMD Phenom X4 9150e Quad-Core CPU running at 1.8 Ghz, the NVIDIA nForce 430 chipset, 5 GB of DDR2 RAM, a 640 GB 7200 RPM hard drive...and the same lame GPU as the machine above: the NVIDIA GeForce 6150 SE.

The short but obscurely-named HP w2558hc boasts a massive 25.5 inches of screen real estate, and an equally large HDMI logo on the front of the monitor. I sure hope that's a sticker that can be peeled off - why would someone need to be reminded that their monitor has HDMI? The w2558hc runs at 1920 x 1200 resolution, has a 3000:1 contrast ratio, a 3 ms gray to gray speed at 1920x1200, a 2 megapixel web cam, and according to the spec sheet, integrated rear-facing four-watt speakers. The price? A very reasonable $599. The HP screens are super glossy though (I have a 22 inch version), so you have to want the hyper-gloss effect. It makes things look nice, but if you have any sort of sunglight hitting the monitor, all you see is glare.

The full press release for all these products is after the break. Read more...

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