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February 28, 2005

UltraStethoscope Works Through Clothes

Highland Innovation Centre, Ltd. shows off their new UltraStethoscope, offering "improved sensitivity, convenience and PC compatibility." A teaching version will be available soon, allowing multiple users to listen simultaneously. ("Hear that? That's pneumonia," et cetera.) "The improved sensitivity of the UltraStethoscope allows it to operate through several layers of clothing," which ruins half the fun of metal-on-flesh hissing. PC connectivity lets users store and compare sound samples and volume control prevents the customary hearing loss associated with someone flicking your 'scope when you're not looking.

06:39 AM in Gadgets | Permalink

February 25, 2005

Sony planning another stab at the "iPod Killer"

Rednwhd3A report on the Register suggests that Sony's set to try again with the grabbing of Apple's pie, plotting the launch of a portable music player to end all iPods. The company's president, Kunitake Ando, said that the new player, planned for the end of this year, will be "much more competitive than the iPod". Saddened by the loss of the top slot, Sony is hoping that an agressive plan will enough to win back its number one position. The key to Sony's success is simple: make a music player that's as easy to use as the iPod and it can beat Apple. This means developing new software that makes Sony's Walkman products more straightforward to use (preferably so that the app doesn't keep making my laptop cry, thanks Sony). The company has already gone some way to seeing the error of its ways by adding native MP3 support to its players on top of its own ATRAC format. Now it's planning on doing the same for its MiniDisc players, apparently. Speculation that Sony might one day buy up Apple has been one of life's constants over the years, but Ando attempted to put those rumours to bed, saying that Apple is now just too expensive to acquire.


06:35 AM in Apple iPod, MP3 players, Music | Permalink

February 24, 2005

TeenTech Portable DVD Player

TeentechJust like any sensible manufacturer, TeenTech has got its eye on the kids' consumer market, but the TeenTech Portable Colour DVD/CD player is for the adults as well - how else are you going to get your squalling offspring to stay quiet in the car? With a 3.5-inch colour screen, remote control, 2 headphone jacks to stop sibling rows, and an external speaker, the portable player can handle VCDs, CD, and MP3 Playback as well as DVD. It's a nice price, as well, at just $99 on Amazon. Only problem is, judging by those reviews, the plug is liable to blow up at any moment, leaving you with a scorched and disgruntled child. Still, if it keeps them quiet, who's complaining.

06:02 AM in Gadgets | Permalink

February 23, 2005

New Sober Worm Spreading Quickly

A new version of the Sober worm wriggled out of its hole early on Monday and set about quickly attacking computers in Europe and the U.S., a security services company says. The worm is a mass-mailer, meaning it spreads itself via e-mail using contacts listed in the address books of computers it infects.
he first instance of the worm, called W32.Sober-K-mm, was intercepted by U.K. security company MessageLabs. The company detected 663 instances of the worm in the first hour, and the figure climbed quickly to more than 2,200 instances over the next five to six hours, prompting MessageLabs to give it a high-risk rating, says Maksym Schipka, a senior antivirus researcher with the company.


06:01 AM in News | Permalink

February 21, 2005


The holidays have come and gone, and if the snowballing searches are any indication, many music lovers received iPods (+36%) from ol' St. Nick. So now that you've had a couple of weeks to figure out where the earphones go, you're likely wondering what else you can you do with your new toy. You're not alone. Searches on iPod accessories (+139%) and modifications are jumping in the post-Christmas period, as proud owners seek ways to make their MP3 "playas" uniquely their own. Of course, all the usual suspects are spiking -- stuff like protective cases (+940%) and mini-speakers (+1,661%) -- but some less obvious iPod extras are busting out as well. Most notable are iPod tattoos (a cheap but effective way to spruce up the white box's outer shell) and iPod voice recorders (for recording your vocal ramblings for posterity). Interest in things you can buy is hot, but the hottest iPod search is "podcasting," a free and legal (for now) way to download Internet radio broadcasts to your iPod (or any MP3 player). Perfect for those who like to listen to something new every day instead of the same ol' Raffi tunes, this trend is expected to really take off in the coming months.

08:58 AM in Apple iPod | Permalink

February 18, 2005

Consumer Reports' Five-Step Guide to Buying a High-Definition Television

Sky-high costs may have scared many consumers away from large-screen high definition TVs until now, but prices have dropped sharply and the March issue of Consumer Reports says that they could hit new lows in the coming months. Even with prices falling, a big-screen TV is still a four-figure investment, and shoppers will find a host of new display technologies to consider along with a growing list of unfamiliar brands. The March issue of Consumer Reports offers a step-by-step guide to buying a high-definition television and advice on financing, warranties and installation.

The experts at Consumer Reports recommend that shoppers ask themselves these five questions when shopping for a high- definition television.

1. How big a screen? - CR recommends that TV shoppers consider not just price but where they will be watching when determining screen size. Bigger screens not only take up more space but require more viewing distance. The experts at CR recommend at least five feet for a 36-inch screen or smaller set, and seven to nine feet for larger screens.

2. Thick or thin? Big-screen TVs range from a few inches to a few feet deep. LCD and plasma sets are the trimmest and priciest. No matter how large, they measure less than six inches thick, and typically cost about $1,800 for a 26-inch LCD; $4,000 for a 42-inch plasma. Rear-projection models using LCD, DLP, or LCoS technology offer a middle ground for both bulk and price, around 15 to 20 inches deep, and typically cost about $1,200 to $3,000 for a 50-inch (or so) set, depending on the technology.

3. Which type of display technology? CR outlines the following choices: traditional picture-tube sets (CRTs) - best for a fairly big HD set at a fairly low price, though bulky; LCD flat-panel models - best choice for a smaller flat-screen set; plasmas - best choice for a very big, very thin set; rear- projection models - best choice for a jumbo TV for less than the cost of a plasma set; and front projectors - best choice for video buffs who want a theater-like experience on a giant screen and are willing to deal with a complex setup.

4. Why HD? The experts at CR recommend that consumers who are springing for a big-screen set get a digital, HD-capable model. Those sets can display the sharpest, most detailed images. Plasma shoppers may want to consider an enhanced definition (ED) model. Though technically a step down, viewers may not notice the difference unless viewing up close.

5. HD-ready or built-in tuner? HD-ready sets require an external digital tuner such as an HD cable or satellite box or a set-top box used with an antenna to decode HD signals. Integrated HDTVs have built-in digital tuners that can get broadcast HD programming via antenna, but require an external tuner for cable or satellite channels. Digital cable-ready TVs can get both broadcast HD channels via antenna and also digital cable programming without using a box but by inserting a cable card into the set. Shoppers who receive their HD via cable or satellite can save money by buying an HD-ready set while they are still available in large sizes.

Advice on Financing, Warranties, and Installation

The experts at Consumer Reports warn of risks associated with buying high-definition televisions.

Loan Gotchas - In an effort to drive sales of higher-priced TVs and other electronics, some retailers now offer zero-interest loans for up to two years. But for many consumers, that means signing up for a credit card that carries a high annual interest rate - up to 29 percent. In many cases, if the loan is not repaid in full before the term expires, consumers will be charged interest from the date of purchase. With some loans, missing three payments in a row triggers the same penalty.

Warranty Costs - For most products, extended warranties aren't worth it. But CR experts advise that it may be worthwhile for high-priced plasma and LCD TVs and rear-projection sets using LCD, DLP, or LCoS, which are too new to have a track record for reliability. Extended warranties typically cover parts and labor for two to five years from the date of purchase and costs vary by the type of TV, its price, and the length of warranty.

Installation - Consumers who are daunted by the idea of moving a huge TV and connecting it to their existing gear should consider hiring a pro to do it. Prices can range from $100 for basic hook-up of a cable box and VCR or DVD, and over $1,000 to wall-mount a plasma or LCD TV and connect various components and hide wiring. Shoppers need to factor in another $200 to $500 for mounting brackets.

The March 2005 issue of Consumer Reports also includes the latest ratings of Projection TVs, Plasmas, LCDs, CRTs, and DVD Players and Recorder. A guide to projection TV lingo and a side-by-side comparison of display technologies is available for free at http://www.ConsumerReports.org.


06:00 AM in HDTV | Permalink

February 17, 2005

A Big LCD TV that Won't Break the Bank

HDTV has become the hot item in the consumer electronics world. The bull market on HDTVs kicked into high gear last holiday season and shows no signs of slowing. Most price/performance offerings leverage older panel technology to drive down price. Gateway attempted this strategy, with only limited success. A relative newcomer to the scene, The Syntax Group has brought its Olevia line of HDTVs to market this year, and today we take their largest LCD HDTV for a test drive.

Many 30-inch LCD HDTVs have street prices in the $2500 to $3000 range, Olevia's LT30HV checks in at around $1,700, and is one of the lowest-priced HDTV panels of this size that we've seen to date. There are now others around that price-point (Westinghouse, Albatron and ViewSonic to name a few), but this is the first offering we've seen in this price range that we'd actually want to recommend. To find out why, click on Read.

06:06 AM in HDTV | Permalink

February 16, 2005

Firefly emergency cellphone for kids


We’re pretty sure within a few years nary an American adult worth their weight in salt (or soccer balls) will be satisfied until every family member has some time of cellular device, from grams and gramps to their pre-pubescent little darlings. A little less novelty and a little more sombre than the MyMo kids’ cellphone, the decidedly more advanced GSM-roaming Firefly has a screen (that’s a plus), dedicated mom and dad call buttons, a 20-number phonebook, a backpack hook, and, of course, a 911 button. Of course, we’d be a bit concerned about that 911 button getting triggered at such inopportune time as, well, any time it’s not intended, but we remain hopeful they’ve 8-12-year old-proofed it sufficiently.


06:11 AM in Cell Phones | Permalink

February 15, 2005

Sony SDM-HS75P and SDM-HS95P X-Brite Flat-Panel Monitors

SDM-HS75P_2..jpg imageSony has two new LCD flat-panel monitors out in a very appealing design—I'm sure they'll be both attractive, with Sony's X-Brite screen technology, and considerably more expensive than less swanky models. Both the 17-inch SDM-HS75P and the 19-inch SDM-HS95P have a native resolution of 1280 by 1024 pixels, with an 8ms refresh for the former and a 16ms refresh time on the latter (LCD refresh determines how much 'ghosting' you'll get when watching video or playing games).

Both are available in silver or black bezels, with DVI digital video connections. The 17-inch will retail for $350, while the 19-inch will show up for $500. That's maybe a little steep, but not as bad as I was expecting, actually.

Get more info.

06:17 AM in Gadgets | Permalink

February 14, 2005

Mitsubishi’s PocketProjector

Mitsubishi PocketProjector

Maybe barely pocketable if you’re rocking the XXXL cargo pants, Mitsubishi just announced the PocketProjector, a tiny DLP projector that weighs just 14 ounces and has a resolution of 800x600 (which is plenty good for all your non-high def needs). Should be out in July with a retail price of $699.


06:13 AM in Peripherals | Permalink