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All posts tagged "accessories"

Friday, September 14, 2012

It is Time to Stick with Android

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

"Specs? The UG802 is powered by a Rockchip RK3066 ARM Cortex-A9 dual core processor paired with 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB integrated storage, a microSD card slot for expansion an integrated HDMI connector."

I have been seeing lots of TVs coming out lately that act a lot like smartphones and tablets. Watching a show is no longer enough these days. You have to keep in touch with everyone on Twitter and Facebook, surf the web and look up that actor in that show who does that thing on IMDB. Sadly, a lot of us probably have TVs that do not have all these hip features. While buying a new TV is always a nice proposition, the recent wave of Android on a stick can turn your existing TV into an amazing App experience! The only caveat is that while the sticks are getting cheap in price, don't forget, you will also need a remote or keyboard to go with it!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Full Size Desktop PC Cases A Thing Of The Past

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:08 PM

"Bit-tech and Custom PC writer Antony Leather strolled into the Labs the other day and, proud of his work, showed me a system he'd just built for an upcoming feature. It's an impressively slick machine: Core i5-3570K, Nvidia GeForce GTX 680, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a custom water-cooling loop, all put together with the sort of fastidious tidiness you'd expect."

Components are getting smaller and smaller so its only logical the cases that holds them get smaller too. With the ever expanding availability of space efficient cases, mini/micro version of components, high efficient cooling systems and solid state drives, perhaps there is no longer a need for the classic full size tower PC case.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

StarTech Opens The Hard Drive Docking Port

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

" specializes in gadgets performing niche, yet handy functions. We reviewed their portable SATA duplicator last year, and this time around we have another interesting gadget from their stables. SATA and IDE hard drive docks / enclosures are a dime a dozen. However, the combination of features provided by the USB 3.0 SATA/IDE HDD docking station persuaded us to get a unit in-house for evaluation."

I know of more than one techie who has a closet full of hard drives. Salvaged from old computers, or as backups, or for archiving data, it is hard to beat the cost per gigabyte that hard drives offer. All that lovely data, but accessing it can be problematic. Docking bays are handy, however, having carts for them, or accessing your case may be convenient. There are USB to Sata adapters, but they pose some risks, leaving your hard drive open on a desk. The docking station solution, like the one StarTech offers, is a good compromise between archiving lots of hard drives, and accessing them when y ou need it. At USB 3.0 speeds, it looks very tempting.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

RCA's USB Wall Charger, Just Plug It In!

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad" @ 05:00 AM

"Most modern smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and other gadgets rely on USB-based chargers. Some of these come with their own AC wall adapters, while others include nothing more than a USB cable-meaning you have to plug them into your computer to get them charged."

The nice thing about this thing is that you just plug it into the existing outlet, so it's basically a cover. No need to replace the current outlet so you don't have to worry about shocking yourself silly. And it goes for the small sum of $15.00 USD at Lowes (currently out of stock in my area), or you can get it at for $12.47 USD (currently in stock with both white and almond colored versions).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Best Way to Keep Your Toys Juiced

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

"If you have kids, you probably know this already, but lots of stuff needs batteries. Remote control toys, Wii remotes, laser pointers (well, that is for me), flash lights, even Nerf guns. For me, I have found the best place to pick up batteries is at one of these “dollar” stores. Sure the batteries are cheaper, but are they any good? Who knows. Let’s find out."

Like any person that likes electronics, I tend to go through a lot of batteries. From remote controls, to cordless mice and keyboards to cameras. While many of these toys use rechargeable batteries, some even custom ones, I find myself using a steady supply of AA and AAA batteries. Yes, I know there are rechargeable batteries in those sizes like Eneloops and even regular NiMH, but they involve a high upfront cost, something that is not always feasible. For those of us who still find use for disposable batteries, Wired has a good review. An update has been added noting that the store-branded batteries tested were of the "heavy duty" type and not alkalines that the premium brands sell. If you buy disposable batteries, be aware of this. Heavy Duty and Super Heavy Duty batteries are not the same as Alkalines, and will always offer less power. While they may suit for very light use, like remote controls, if the device is something that needs more power, like a flashlight, or a smoke detector, you will want something with some degree of staying power.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Manfrotto Unica VII Messenger Bag ~ Near Perfect Camera Bag

Posted by Stacie Huckeba in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:17 PM

Product Category: Camera Bag
Manufacturer: Manfrotto
Where to Buy: Best Buy, Amazon
Price: $50 - $99 USD
Holds: DSLR with lens attached as well as 1 to 2 other lenses, 17" Macbook (15.4" laptop) and personal effects.
Specifications: Product Height 12.2", Product Width 7.5", Product Depth18.9",Product Weight 2.2 lbs.


  • Lightweight;
  • Cost Effective;
  • Lots of Storage Space.


  • Shoulder Pad is not Comfortable;
  • No Regular Tripod Attachment;
  • No Easy Access Side Pockets.

Summary: The Manfrotto Unica VII Messenger Bag is a great camera bag for photographers on the go or who travel frequently. It is stylish and has an easy access top zipper that lets you get to all your gear in a hurry. That same zipper makes it easy to grab your laptop out for airport security checkpoints and, yes, the whole bag is carry-on friendly for both domestic and international flights.

The ability to carry a pro body with a battery pack attached and a 17 inch laptop along with other lenses and equipment without weighing a ton or requiring you to stop and find a place to sit your bag down in order to access your equipment is a lifesaver. The messenger bag style makes it easy to carry around all day and doesn't scream "I have an expensive camera in here!". The price point on this can't be beat - at $50 - $100, it easily compares to bags twice the price. Read more...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Increase You Geek Cred With These Peripherals

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

"You're a veteran tech geek. Your friends and family always look to you for advice when buying PC gear or gadgets. Yet there's still stuff you don't own, and don't realize you need. Now, it's true that many of you may have a couple of the items on this list. But there's likely gear here you don't have, and didn't realize you could use."

Nobody should do without gifts this holiday season, or at any time for that matter. You should consider rewarding yourself with a gift every month from this list, or any other. After all, being the resident techno guru for everyone is hard work and you should get some just desserts! Besides, some peripherals are really cool and useful. For me, the power screwdriver probably would be my first choice. A manual screwdriver, while handy in a pinch, can lead to extremely sore muscles if you have to work on the guts of any computer. What are your must haves?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reminder: Audioengine A5+ Speaker Contest Closes on Friday

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 03:00 PM

Just a quick reminder that our giveaway contest to win a set of Audioengine A5+ speakers (valued at $399) wraps up on Friday at noon, so enter now!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cost / Performance Shootout at the SSD Corral

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 09:00 AM

"It’s no secret that replacing your notebook’s hard drive with a solid state disk can dramatically transform your computing experience. With even last year’s SSDs, tasks such as opening large files or starting bulky applications take mere moments to complete. And if you own a notebook powered by one of Intel’s 2nd Generation Core Series CPUs, you’re in for a whole new world of fast, courtesy of SATA III, a high-speed interface Intel included in its new chipsets starting in 2011."

One of the secrets of enhancing computer performance is to remove bottlenecks, and a few years ago the biggest (and cheapest) way to gain added performance was to add memory. Today, memory seems to be no longer an issue, so we've moved on to the venerable hard drive as the point where data flow slows down. As SSD prices drop, expect to see the hard drive start to go the way of other past drives, and be replaced all or in part by solid state drives. We already are starting to see hybrid (multi-drive) systems, where the boot (OS and programs) drive is an SSD, and day-to-day data is still stored on a spinning drive.

This review tests SATA III SSDs from Samsung, Intel, OCZ and Patriot, and they also do an interesting comparison on cost per gigabyte, ranging from $1.53 (OCZ 240GB) to $2.31 (Intel 120GB). Retail prices are expected to be lower. Their comparison hard drive was a 500GB 7,200rpm model, but at a significantly lower cost per GB. The tests are interesting, and the SSDs perform as expected, with Samsung's 830 winning the shootout (cost today $229 for 128GB and $429 for 256GB).

Please note that these performance tests were done on laptops with Intel's current chipsets (supporting SATA III). Older systems will not see this performance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Audioengine Introduces A5+ Premium Powered Speaker System

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:31 PM

"The Audioengine 5+ (A5+) active speakers deliver audiophile-quality sound and features at a price that continues to set the standard for affordable high-quality audio. Connect your iDevice, computer, TV, or any other audio component for great stereo sound. The goal of Audioengine is to give our customers a high-end listening experience at affordable prices with easy to use, high-quality products. The Audioengine 5 powered speaker system was Audioengine's flagship model and has become a best seller, winning numerous awards along the way. The new A5+ incorporates the same award-winning design as the original A5 but includes customer-requested upgrades and features."

Bar none, Audioengine makes the best speakers I've heard at any similar price point. They simply sound incredible - I reviewed the original A5's back in 2007, and they still sound as good today as they did back then (actually, even better since I bought an Audioengine S8 subwoofer and added it to the mix). With the built-in 3.5mm input jack, they make a great accessory for smartphones, MP3 players, laptops, tablets, etc. I love the sound of AudioEngine speakers so much I have three pairs of their smaller A2 units in my home office. You get the point. :-) AudioEngine's release of the new A5+ speakers brings with it a $50 price increase, making them a pricey accessory at $399, but a set of speakers like this will last for years, through multiple computer upgrades.

What's new about the A5+ over the previous A5's? To quote Audioengine, "advance tuned cabinet with rear-ported waveguide, improved thermal management, upgraded speaker connector binding posts,remote control, variable preamp line out, RCA and mini-jack inputs, and new stand-mount 1/4" threaded inserts". I don't see anything in that list that would make me want to replace my A5's, but if I buy another set of speakers, I'll take a serious look at the A5+ speakers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Playing 'Smarter' with the Samsung BD-D6500 3D Blu-ray player

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

Product Category: Internet connected Blu-Ray player
Manufacturer: Samsung
Where to Buy: Amazon [affiliate]
Price: $199.99USD, but on special for $114.95
System Requirements: Plays Blu-Ray, 3D, DVD +/-R(W), CD DA, CD-R(W) discs
Specifications: Dimensions - 17in (430mm) x 8.2in(209mm) x 1.3in(33mm); Weight - 3.8lbs (1.7kg); Outputs - HDMI, Component Video, Composite Video, Optical Digital Audio (Dolby/DTS 7.1), Analog Audio (2ch).


  • Small, compact and light;
  • Plays just about any type of video disc;
  • Internet capable, via wired or wireless (b, g, n) LAN.


  • Not able to easily connect/share with other network PC's;
  • Limited content available in Canada;
  • Only cable provided is for 2 ch stereo and composite video.

Summary: When Samsung first approached us about doing a review of the BD-D6500, I was very excited about the fact that here was a Blu-Ray player with built-in Wi-Fi connectability. The stars in my eyes forsaw a possible replacement for my big, bulky media PC -- using this player to access all the music, video and pictures on my home network -- as well as having a really cool, sleek blu-ray/DVD player. Did it work? Let's take a look... Read more...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Digital Picture Frames: I'm Looking for Options

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 01:47 PM

Hi everyone! I'm looking for opinions on digital picture frames - it seems like it's hard to find frames with decent sync technology built in, especially since FrameChannel went belly-up. I'm looking for a photo frame, probably in the 10 inch range, that I can push pictures to. Maybe that's via an RSS feed, maybe that's via email, or a Web service. The point is I need the ability to put pictures on the frame remotely without any local interaction. Yes, you guessed it, this is for both set of grandparents and I want to be able to add photos to the frame remotely so they'll just show up.

I've spent a few minutes researching potential photo frames, but what I've found has shocked me: it's a virtual wasteland of cancelled products and failed companies. Many of the picture frames I was familiar with a few years ago no longer exist. I'm looking for suggestions - though in searching for an image for this post, I came across the Kodak Pulse and it looks like it might do the trick. It can't pull down photos from RSS feeds, but I can email photos to a special email address and they'll appear on the frame - so that's the next best thing.

Any others I should be looking at?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Surrounding yourself with the Samsung HW-D550 Audio Bar

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

Product Category: Home theatre audio
Manufacturer: Samsung
Where to Buy: Amazon [affiliate]
Price: $499USD (regular, but now on special for $310)
System Requirements: wall power for both the sound bar and the sub woofer unit; digital audio (HDMI / optical) or analog sound source.
Specifications: Dimensions: Soundbar - 1056mm(41.6in) x 80mm(3.15in) x 45mm(1.77in); Subwoofer - 178mm(7in) x 360mm(14.2in) x 295mm(11.6in). Weight: Soundbar - 2.06kg(4.5lbs); Subwoofer - 5.3kg(11.7lbs). Power (total): Soundbar - 2 x 80W; Subwoofer - 150W. Total Harmonic Distortion - 10% at reference. Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20KHz.


  • Compact unit which can be easily wall mounted under the TV screen;
  • Wireless Subwoofer can be placed anywhere without cables showing;
  • Multiple audio inputs available (and selectable with the remote) to allow this to become the audio 'hub' of the home theatre.


  • Only two HDMI inputs;
  • Midrange is emphasized a little too much (for me);
  • 'Surround' sound is more reverb/delay than actual repositioning via sound processing.

Summary: For a guy who is used to a separate amp, speakers and tons of interconnecting wires, working with an 'all-in-one' sound unit like the Samsung HW-D550 was quite the treat in some respects. But how does it compare where it counts? How does it sound compared to the separate components? All-in-all, it wasn't spectacular, but not too bad. Let's take a closer look and listen.... Read more...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

V-MODA Vibrato Headphones Reviewed: They're Worth It

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:30 AM

If you've ever shopped for headphones, you've likely come across V-MODA. They make a variety of headphones in different price segments, but I've never reviewed any of them until now. I was offered the chance to review the V-MODA Vibrato headphones ($129.99 USD from Amazon), and since I'd heard good things about V-MODA headphones, I said yes. I'm glad I did, though that conclusion took some time to get to. Confused? Keep reading. Read more...

Monday, August 1, 2011

iTwin: Your Missing Link Has Been Found

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

iTwin first picture

Product Category: File Sharing Utility
Manufacturer: iTwin, Inc.
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $99.99 USD
System Requirements: Windows 7, XP or Vista (32-bit or 64-bit)
Specifications: Size: 90mm x 21mm x 8mm; 50g. Symmetrical USB (2.0) connectors, LED activity lights.


  • Easy to use.
  • Can connect two computers to copy files when other means don't work.
  • Easier than connecting to a remote file share.


  • May not be as good as connecting to a file share.
  • Needs access to company's server to operate.
  • No local help or trouble-shooting options.

Summary: This is a unique little device that enables secure file sharing between two (and only two) computers, and may be just the thing you need when other methods are blocked by company firewalls or home routers, or are simply too difficult to set up by a novice user. The company's slick marketing-oriented web site may over state its features, but it works well. Read more...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Nikon Lenses on the iPhone 4 Becomes Reality

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

The ultimate camera is now here: Attach legendary Nikkor lenses to the iPhone 4! For US$250 you can buy kit that has a casing to allow a converter tube for F-mount lenses. Time to sell that D3S and D3X?

Friday, June 17, 2011

WD Nomad Provides Rugged Protection For My Passport Hard Drives

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 05:30 PM

"Some risks are worth taking; losing your files is not one of them. WD Nomad rugged case cradles your My Passport portable drive in its polycarbonate case and shock-absorbing cushion lining, protecting your drive from drops, spills, dirt, dust, and scratches as you work and play."

If you own a WD portable hard drive and use it in rugged conditions, then this new product will be of interest. WD has released the WD Nomad, a durable case designed to protect My Passport® portable hard drives from drops as high as seven feet, moisture and spills and other mishaps associated with active, on-the-go lifestyles, such as those of outdoor photographers, adventurers and other road warriors. The case features a polycarbonate exterior and shock-absorbing elastomer cushion inside. It conforms to strict military standards (MIL-STD-810G) for ruggedness. The heavy-duty latch and silicon liner seal out dirt, dust, and moisture. Our Read link has all the information you will need to evaluate the new case.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vogel's RingO: A Universal Tablet Mounting System

Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad" @ 10:00 AM

There are 15,873,213.5 iPad cases and stands, and dozens of iPad mounts. While that statement may not be completely accurate, it would be fair to say there are a lot. So what's with another review of the same old stuff? In a word, "System". A complete and comprehensive eco-system of compatible cases, stands and mounts for tablets. And as far as I can see, there may only be a few tablet "Systems" in existence. We're going to look at one - Vogel's RingO Universal Mounting System. Welcome to the Pros, my friend.


Monday, May 9, 2011

The LapDawg X4: A New Breed You Can Cuddle With

Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Laptop Thoughts Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

When life's circumstances breed new technology, great things happen. The LapDawg X4 is a good example. If you use your laptop to get your email in bed, browse the Internet from the chaise longe, or work in non-office environments, the LapDawg X4 is for you! Or, if you are just looking for the ultimate in ergonomic adaptability, you need to read on. Read more...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Olympus Introduces the LS-20M

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

"The company, best known for its cameras and voice recorders, just brought those two worlds together by announcing the LS-20M, a handheld whose relatively high-end audio specs should help it go toe-to-toe with Zoom."

As tiny as electronics are these days, we are finding companies willing to mash together all manner of gadgets into one. You would think that with all those mp3 players, iPods, iPhones, iPads, Androids, Playbooks and Flips that this Camcorder and Voice recorder hybrid would not stand a chance. Well, it might not. But, if its audio recording fidelity is any good, and it focuses on ease of use, I can see some potential. Not everyone wants to have to swipe, mash, swipe, swipe, mash, mash their way to recordings.

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