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All posts tagged "reviews"


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Seagate's BlackArmor PS 110 Portable USB 3.0 Drive

Posted by Jeff Deneen in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: Portable Storage Device
Manufacturer: Seagate
Where to Buy: Seagate; newegg.
Price: $179.99
System Requirements: ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 card; Power Dongle; USB Cable

Pros:

  • Form Factor;
  • Back-up software included;
  • USB 3.0 Speed;
  • Capacity.

Cons:

  • Until you have USB 3.0 in your laptop, you have to use an ExpressCard/34 card.

Summary: This is one of the first USB 3.0 Portable Drives to hit the market. Having half a terabyte in your hands is great, especially if you are a road warrior. The Seagate BlackArmor drive delivers speed, capacity, and portability in a solid, user friendly, package that provides for a complete system recovery in the palm of your hand or enough video for a weeks' worth of trade show video demos. It is a valuable addition to any traveler.

Read more...


Friday, February 19, 2010

Nikon D3S Reviewed by dpreview.com

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond3s/

"When the Nikon D3 was launched in August 2007, it had an immediate impact on the DSLR market, and not only in the professional sector.... A little over two years later, and Nikon is trying to build on the foundations laid by the D3's runaway success. Enter the D3S. Ergonomically, very little has changed. ... [B]ut the D3S does offer some significant improvements, not least a new 720x1280p video capture mode, and several minor tweaks designed to make the new camera more competitive."

Barnaby Britton, of dpreview.com, has published an extensive review of the new Nikon D3S, as befits a fairly expensive ($5,199 MSRP, US, body only) professional level DSLR. In addition to the new video mode, the D3S adds an even broader ISO range (all the way out to ISO 102,400!), and a larger memory buffer, to go along with dual CF slots, a Virtual Horizon Graphic Indicator, and batteries capable of approximately 4,200 images per charge. This is a large camera - note the relative size of the 3-inch LCD monitor in the photo above - and also apparently a complex one, "that rewards a careful reading of the bible-thick instruction manual, even if you are a habitual Nikon shooter." Nikon made several marketing decisions in the design and feature content of the D3S: read the full review to learn the details - and then let us know where you stand on the "Higher ISO vs. Higher Resolution" debate!


Friday, February 12, 2010

DxO Optics Pro 6 Elite Reviewed

Posted by Matthew Shanks in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: Digital Photograph Enhancement Software
Manufacturer: DxO Image Science
Where to Buy: www.dxo.com
Price: $299 USD (Elite), $169 USD (Standard)
System Requirements: 2 GB RAM minimum, 400MB space, Intel Pentium 4 or AMD equivalent processor, Windows XP, Vista 32 or 64 bit, Windows 7
Specifications: Version 6.1.1

Pros:

  • Automatic or fully customizable processing of batches or individual digital photographs;
  • Excellent noise reduction, optical fault and geometry correction;
  • Powerful, customizable and user-friendly;
  • Integrates well with Adobe Lightroom;
  • Comprehensive and easy to understand manual.

Cons:

  • No searchable help functionality;
  • Manual only available through support website, rather than within software;
  • Large output file sizes in TIF and DNG formats;
  • Some corrections not visible at zoom levels below 75%;
  • Exposure compensation data not available in EXIF palette.

Summary: DxO Optics Pro 6 is a powerful software package for digital photographers looking to apply automatic and quick processing to batches or individual photographs. It excels in noise reduction of high ISO RAW images, optical fault and geometry correction, and integrates well with Adobe Lightroom. I was impressed with the software's performance and recommend it as a standalone program or integrated with Lightroom, especially for those photographers now using new high ISO digital cameras. Read more...


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Music Organization: Which Application Wins?

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:30 PM

http://www.maximumpc.com/article/fe...mpared?page=0,0

MaximumPC has done an interesting side by side comparison of the big three options out there for music organization on your home PC. To be honest, most people will have a hard time really making much of a selection based on the software and are far more likely to be choosing based on what their device of choice is. In the case of the iPod and Zune, we’re mostly tied to using the software designed for it.

But if you don’t like your options with your current software solution, it’s certainly not impossible to use a different program to manage your media and a different one to load your player. The three that MaximumPC looks at are iTunes (of course), Zune, and Songbird. Read more...


Classmate PC Convertible Touchscreen Netbook

Posted by Chris Sacksteder in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

From http://www.mdg.ca

Product Category: Netbook/Tablet PC
Manufacturer: Intel
Where to Buy: Amazon Affiliate Store
Price: $449-$507 USD
Specifications: Intel Atom 1.6Ghz processor, 1GB memory, 60GB disk, 8.9" touch screen. Details below.

Pros:
  • Good price for a touch-screen convertible tablet;
  • Sturdy and well built to take some rough handling by children or adults;
  • Easy to use;
  • Runs Windows 7, though not an option from all resellers as of this writing.

Cons:

  • Limited support from resellers, none from Intel;
  • Keyboard may be too small for touch-typists;
  • Processor too slow for built-in web cam to be useful;
  • Toy-like appearance may be unacceptable to adults.

Summary: The Classmate Convertible PC is a small touch-screen tablet PC built by Intel (see their cool promo video) and re-branded and sold by a number of different retailers under various names (Schoolmate Convertible, M&A Companion Touch, CTL 2Go Convertible Classmate). Its toy-like appearance is designed to be attractive to children, but its ruggedized construction could make it useful for adults as well. The fairly low powered Atom processor is typical for this size of netbook and adequate for most functions. The touch screen works well for applications a child might use and the pen input with Windows 7 is very usable. Touch typists may find the small keyboard difficult to get used to.

Read more...


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Klipsch ProMedia Helps You Go Wireless! Well, Kinda, Sorta Wireless.

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:30 PM

http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/01/...rs-impressions/

"We should start by explaining a little about what a buck under $200 gets you. The 2.1 system includes a ported, side-firing 6.5-inch subwoofer encased in an 11 pound box that measures 9.5- x 9.8- x 10.2-inches. Also within that is a 2.4GHz wireless receiver and amplification for all of the drivers involved: 50 watts for the subbie and 35 watts per satellite."

Sound generally is not at the top of your average computer user's list of deal breakers. Most desktop computers I see on sale generally get bundled with speakers that cost less than a coffee at Starbucks. Laptops, while improving, at still largely limited by physical dimensions to ever really sound that great. Those that know the difference usually open their wallet a little for a decent set of computer speakers. Klipsch, well known for good speaker sets has come up with a wireless version of their ProMedia 2.1 speakers. Engadget gives you the details on how these sound, and the price, at just shy of $200, is pretty reasonable, however, I really have to question the value of wireless computer speakers. Because the speakers still need to connect to each other, and wireless power is still years away, you still have a tangle of colourful cables. Going wireless only really saves you one cable. Sure, you can now put them anywhere you want, but I imagine most would just set it up at their desk, where it wouldn't matter, not down the hall in the baby room. Am I missing something here?


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Photovisi Makes Collages Easy Peasy

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

http://www.photovisi.com/

"At photovisi.com you first select one of the many collage templates, add your photos and then customize by dragging photos around. After the collage is finished, it's available for download."

Cameras are everywhere. Whether they are the ones that come built into phones, tiny ones that fit into your pocket, or large professional ones that need a bag to carry all the accessories. Companies are working hard and fast to provide various online ways to make use of your photos. A newcomer to this is Photovisi. Their service is to allow you to create a photo collage through a web interface, and then buy various products with that collage printed on them. Trying out their service, I found it really simple to use, but with some limitations. Read more...


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turtle Beach Ear Force X4 Wireless Xbox 360 Gaming Headset

Posted by Matthew Shanks in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:30 AM

Product Category: Wireless Headsets / Headphones
Manufacturer: Turtle Beach
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $149 USD
System Requirements: Compatible with the Xbox 360 and home theater systems.
Specifications: 50mm diameter speakers, 270g, >20 hours battery life with 2 AAA batteries.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight and comfortable for long periods of use;
  • High build quality, good industrial design to match the Xbox 360;
  • Microphone works seamlessly with the headphones;
  • Excellent recreation of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

Cons:

  • Fairly expensive;
  • Chat connector still wired to controller;
  • Muddy bass during loud scenes with deep bass;
  • Line of sight required for IR transmitter;
  • No low battery indicator, microphone volume suffers with low battery before speaker sound loses definition.

Summary: The Turtle Beach Ear Force X4 Wireless Xbox 360 Gaming Headset is a well thought out product that caters to Xbox 360 gamers, while still allowing home theater enthusiasts an outlet to listen to music or movies wirelessly and without disturbing others in their homes. It provides excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and its integrated microphone and chat features allow for complete immersion during online chatting or competitive multiplayer games. While it could use some improvements, it remains a piece of hardware that I continue to enjoy using in my home theater. Read more...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Engadget Has a Squeezebox (by Logitech)

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/06/...x-radio-review/

"We tried to find something not to like about the Squeezebox Radio, but didn't have much success. We thought the bright screen would keep us awake at night, but it kindly turned itself off even as it kept the tunes pumping. We thought it'd forget to wake us up after we unplugged it and moved it to a new room, but sure enough our alarm settings were still there (5:44am, ouch), because they're stored online. About the only thing we can find as a serious fault is a 45 second start-up time, which is rather obnoxious if you just want to get some tunes rocking while you're chopping broccoli. The lack of a remote is a drag, too, as is having to pay extra for a battery pack. Oh, and it's impossible to keep clean. But, for a very fair $199 those seem like minor faults, all. We love this thing."

Looks like an ideal alarm clock/bedroom radio. It will stream most Internet radio standards or pull from your home network. Especially cool is that it will pull posts from your Facebook wall so you can see what fun your friends had while you were sleeping before even getting out of bed.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hands on with the Myine IRA Internet Radio

Posted by Don Tolson in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

Product Category: Internet Radio (streaming audio)
Manufacturer: Myine
Where to Buy: Amazon.com [affiliate]
Price: $129.99 USD
System Requirements: WiFi connection to the Internet (either 802.11g or n); Stereo system or powered speakers with analog AUX input via RCA jacks or stereo 3.5mm jack.
Specifications: Main unit is 50.8mm (2in) x 152.4mm (6in) x 76.2mm (3in), 726g (1.6lb); Remote is approximately 85mm (3.4in) x 40mm (1.6in) x 2mm (0.08in); Screen is 67mm (2.6in)

Pros:

  • Very simple to set up and use;
  • Huge station list which is updated automatically, with up to 40 storable as favorites;
  • Sound quality is very good.

Cons:

  • Volume output is on the low side (depending upon station);
  • Menus are difficult to read from "couch" distance :-);
  • Can only access the menus using the remote.

Summary: Although diminutive in size, the Myine IRA (Internet Radio Adapter) packs a fully WiFi capable, Internet browser which can select and stream clean, stereo audio from a list of over 11,000 stations around the world. Whatever your music or information preference, you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own living room/den/entertainment room over your existing sound system. It literally sets up in seconds. Read more...


Thursday, September 24, 2009

AVS Video Converter 6

Posted by Chris Baxter in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

AVS Review Figure 0

Product Category: Video Conversion Software
Manufacturer: AVS4YOU
Where to Buy: AVS4YOU.com
Price: $59 for Unlimited Access or $39 for 1 Year Access
System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows XP, 512MB of RAM or higher (1GB of RAM for Vista), and 1.5GHz or higher CPU (3Ghz/1.8Ghz Dual Core for Vista)

Pros:

  • Simple easy to use interface;
  • Included profiles make it easy for people with limited video editing experience;
  • Priced right.

Cons:

  • Conversion times seemed a bit slow;
  • Changing the priority for the conversion seemed to have little effect on the CPU usage or the overall conversion time for the PC I used while testing.

Summary: AVS4YOU is currently offering all of their software titles for one amazingly low price. Is the software worth it? To find out I take one of their flagship products for a spin. Read on to find out what I discovered.

Read more...


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HP Makes Sure You Got Served

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

http://www.mediasmarthome.com/artic...ands-On-Review/

"It hasn't all been teddy bears and fluffy bunnies. HP's focus on simplifying the MediaSmart Server has left enthusiasts, like me and others who read in-depth reviews of Home Servers, wanting more power, flexibility, and control over features like the Video Converter and Media Collector... without resorting to registry edits and other complex hacks. Is it even possible to give power users the features they want without overwhelming the everyday user?"

It seems it was just the other day that I was talking about the release of the HP MediaSmart EX-485 and EX-487 servers and here HP has pulled a trick from the video card industry and announced the EX-490 and EX-495 less than a year after the release of their previous generation. Maybe sales are disappointing and they feel they have to "upgrade" things to get more attention. At least the upgrades seem substantial for the premium server. HP has changed up their hardware for the MediaSmart servers with every generation, and now they're creeping into dual-core territory. It would not surprise me if in a few months, they announce a quad-core server! Still, the focus of their upgrade, and rightfully so, is the software, which seems to be getting better with every iteration. It is almost enough to consider not doing home-brew. Still on the fence? Check out MediaSmartHome's review, which goes through a lot of detail of what a Windows Home Server can do!


Shure SE210 Earphones: Pure Audio Delight

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

Product Category: Earphones Manufacturer: Shure
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $97.78
System Requirements: Any MP3 player with a 3.5mm headphone jack
Specifications: Headphones have a frequency range of 25Hz - 18.5kHz with a 26 ohm impedance. They come in black or white and have an 18 inch cable with a 36 inch extension. The headphones pack up easily in a small travel case and come with a deluxe fit kit of 7 different tips to easily fit almost any ear size.

Pros:

  • Amazing sound, it blew me away;
  • Lots of fit options, ensuring a comfortable, tight seal;
  • High quality construction that should stand up to long term use.

Cons:

  • Somewhat expensive;
  • In-ear design takes getting used to.

Summary: No matter what you use as an MP3 player there is a universal law that applies to your device of choice. The included ear buds suck. Sure, there’s different levels of suck, but in the end they’re all pretty horrible. There was a brief period of time when the Zune came with the premium sound isolating earphones and those were certainly a step up from the usual throwaways you get. Still, to really appreciate your Zune or "other" MP3 player you only have two avenues to really get the most out of your music. Read more...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Audioengine AP4 Passive Bookshelf Speakers

Posted by Ron Hostetter in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: Passive Bookshelf Speakers
Manufacturer: Audioengine
Where to Buy: Amazon.com [Affiliate]
Price: $249.00 (black or white), $325.00 USD (bamboo)
Type: 2-way passive, front ported speakers.
Specifications: See Audioengine's web site for full specifications.

Pros:

  • Great sound from small desktop speakers;
  • High quality construction;
  • Threaded mounting inserts on the back and bottom for versatile mounting options.

Cons:

  • Passive speakers - make sure you have an amplifier;
  • Lack of front grill may not fit for all decors;

Summary: Audioengine brings its legendary active speaker sound to a less expensive passive speaker. The AP4's provide great sound for your existing stereo or home theater system. Read more...


Saturday, July 18, 2009

EVGA Introduces The Dual Monitor Interview

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

http://hothardware.com/Articles/EVG...-System-Review/

"EVGA's Interview Dual Monitor System incorporates a pair of 17" widescreen LCDs with an innovative rotatable stand that allows the user to flip a panel over to share a desktop display with someone sitting across from them on the other side of the desk. These twin TFT displays support a native resolution of 1440X900 and rotate 180 degrees vertically and 90 degrees horizontally."

Watching the review provided by HotHardware, I have to agree with their conclusion that the EVGA Interview is targeted towards businesses and institutions. The Interview is designed to save space and time with its ability to switch from a dual monitor to a desktop sharing device and the premium it charges makes its value for a regular consumer questionable. Gamers tend to be very particular about their monitors with a focus on low latencies and a high screen resolution. Developers and others who deal with a lot of data also tend to favour higher resolution displays. Even accepting these limitations, the one thing I find lacking with the EVGA Interview is the ability to rotate the monitors. The twisting and turning seems useful, but I believe the ability to rotate one or both of the monitors into portrait mode much more valuable.


How I Learned to Stop Deleting And Love A 10TB RAID Array

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews...-raid,2344.html

"Need more capacity? Want more hard drive performance? Knowing that hard drive prices are about to drop below $80 for a 1 TB drive, we decided to create the ultimate RAID array, one that should be able store all of your data for years to come while providing much faster performance than any individual drive could. Twelve Samsung 1 TB hard drives helped us to reach speed records and an impressive 10 TB net capacity."

Storage is cheap. 2TB hard drives have started becoming available while prices on smaller sized drives are dropping ever further. Tom's Hardware decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to see what one could do with a wad of cash and the dream of a massive storage array. I do worry about using a RAID 0 array that involves 12 drives and think that their exploration into a RAID 5 setup to be much more appropriate. Their comparison against SSDs also suggests that for performance, hard drives definitely have passed their prime. Hard drives are for economy and storage capacity now, that is clear. I've never reached 10TB myself, though I did once reach about 5TB of storage, spread across three computers, several years ago and it cost me a lot more than $1000. Anyone have bragging rights to the largest storage "facility" in their home?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sony Shows Off Their CMOS With The DSC-HX1

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydschx1/

"While the HX1 may not feature RAW file recording, there are many manual settings such as three noise reduction settings, many white balance settings, a full range of manual modes, and many others for the photographer who wants ultimate control. Does this combine to make a compelling package that should command your money?"

CMOS based cameras are becoming increasingly common but it seems as if the technical limitations that have kept them restricted to the more expensive cameras are still plaguing them. The Sony DSC-HX1 definitely has a lot going for it, and offers wonderful tweaks and controls for someone bitten by the bug. Still, I'm not wholly convinced that now is the right time to jump on the CMOS bandwagon. The quality of images, while greatly improved and mostly comparable when compared to their CCD based cousins doesn't justify the cost. Maybe another year will see CMOS cameras bloom in all their glory.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Mezzmo: The Ultimate Home Entertainment Software

Posted by Chris Baxter in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Product Image

Product Category: Media Sharing Software
Manufacturer: Conceiva
Where to Buy: www.conceiva.com
Price: $69.95 USD
System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Minimum of 512MB RAM, Minimum of 50MB free hard disk space, Minimum of 1024x768, 24 bit resolution display, CD/DVD writer (recommended), and Internet connection (recommended).

Pros:

  • Easy to setup and get running;
  • Supports a wide variety of popular devices;
  • Clean, attractive interface.

Cons:

  • Program still has some bugs that need to be worked out;
  • Kind of expensive compared to alternatives.

Summary: Mezzmo claims to be the ultimate home entertainment software. It can organize your entire media collection, stream music and video anywhere in your house, rip and burn music CDs, and includes a free media player. With a list of features like that their claim might be right on the money, but as we all know, what looks good on paper doesn't necessarily deliver on what it promises. Fortunately I was able to get my hands on a copy and after putting the software through its paces, this is what I found:

Read more...


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Fails To Dazzle

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:30 AM

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canonsx1is/

"In September of 2008 Canon announced dual successors to the S5 IS. The cheaper of the two models is the Powershot SX10 IS, which features a 10 MP CCD sensor behind a 20X image stabilized lens, with the more expensive camera - the SX1 IS - adding RAW mode, a CMOS sensor, faster continuous shooting speed, and HD 1080p video recording."

If you're looking to take a step above camera phones and point-and-click cameras, it is a good bet you have investigated larger, heftier cameras that won't fit in your pocket. Of course, these cameras don't just offer a larger body, but a wealth of additional features and controls both in hardware and software to let you take stunning pictures. The Canon SX1 IS is positioned to be one of these, especially with the use of a CMOS sensor, but DPReview remains unimpressed, actually favouring its cheaper sibling's results. I haven't taken the leap to a better class camera than what is on my phone, but when the time comes, I want it to provide a noticable difference. Looking at the test pictures taken with the camera it looks like I'd be passing by the SX1 IS.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Slacker Is Anything But

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:30 AM

http://www.applethoughts.com/news/s...adio-rocks.html

"Slacker is an Internet streaming radio service (US only). User can access Slacker in a variety of ways, including browser based web streaming, via wi-fi on the Slacker Portable Radio Player, and via wi-fi over the Slacker application for iPhone/iPod Touch, the subject of this review."

I just finished a review of Slacker over at Apple Thoughts. Although the review is specific to the Slacker application for iPhone/iPod Touch, the service itself is cross-platform, so I thought a number of you here might also be interested.


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