Category Archives: Electronics

What is the Best Charging Device?


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Have you ever been in a situation where someone started telling you how their device was so much better than yours? They have the “best there is,” you know. It’s exceedingly annoying to me to hear those words out of anyone’s mouth. Guess what? There IS NO “best device.” The best is simply defined as what works the best for you.

When was the last time you needed to do something with your device only to find out it was out of power? You can be spec’d to the max, but it doesn’t do much good if the machine refuses to turn on. Your portable devices need go-go juice. And when it comes to helping give your gadgets that sweet nectar, I’ve found what I feel is the best.

USB battery packs are necessary for almost all portable devices. Most devices, like iPhone and Android cell phones, can’t make it through a normal day without reconnecting to power. The i.Sound Portable Power Max is a USB battery pack designed to solve this power limitation. In addition to powering standard devices, the i.Sound Portable Power Max has the 5W charging power required to keep your iPad charged should you find the 10-hour iPad battery life to be too short for your needs. In fact, the i.Sound Portable Power Max Promises 30 additional hours of battery life for the Apple iPad, assuming you aren’t recharging any other devices at the same time.

There are a total of five powered USB ports, which allow you to charge up to five separate devices simultaneously. This little number can charge your iPhone, an iPad, the iPod touch, a Blackberry, a Droid – and – you get the picture. The little LED indicators will let you know how much charge is left on the battery. You can even pick your favorite color – if your favorite happens to be black or silver. What do you know… I prefer all of my devices and gadgets to be black or silver! This was definitely a match made in Heaven.

Yes, the size is a bit cumbersome. You likely won’t want to throw this into your pants pocket. However, it fits nicely in a laptop bag, briefcase or purse. Use it to charge all of your devices overnight or keep it handy during the daytime for those times when your phone just doesn’t have enough juice to get through your hard day.

Don’t let yourself get caught short. Keep some type of external battery or charging device with you at all times.

How to Buy a Computer


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Buying a new computer can be quite confusing. There are so many brands out there – so many choices. You have to attempt to figure out if you want a desktop or laptop. Then you need to narrow down your choices. How much do you plan to use your machine? What types of tasks will you be performing with it on a regular basis? The answers to these questions can help you figure out which computer is right for you. According to the team behind the Windows Twitter account, a lot of you simply aren’t sure what you are supposed to be looking for when purchasing a new system.

Computers are a lot like clothes: not one size fits all. What you want will be different from what the rest of us want. Microsoft has developed a tool called Windows PC Scout to help you make the right choice. This tool will step you through a series of questions to get you to your ideal machine.

The experts behind Windows went on a hunt to find the best of the best, and the PC Scout will help you figure out which of those works best for you. There are no paid placements. The machines recommended on the site are only there because they were determined to deliver the best Windows experience possible.

If you already have a general idea of what type of specs you want in a machine, the tool can help you narrow down your choices by giving suggestions of the best laptops available which fit your specific criteria. You can choose from categories such as everyday usage, gaming rigs, multimedia machines and connected companions.

The more you spend, then happier you will be several years from now. If you don’t spend much, you’re likely going to become frustrated with the limitations of that device within a much shorter period of time. Many of you feel you need to have the latest and greatest – and that’s okay. It’s honestly all a matter of personal choice. Its’ about what works for YOU.

If what you have right now is working just fine, stick with it – especially if your software is up to date. You need to always keep your software updated… including (and most importantly) your operating system. If you don’t have a computer running Windows 7, I honestly think you should upgrade. Microsoft and software/hardware vendors are developing their products to run most effectively on Windows 7. Yes – they make work well with older versions, but they won’t run at their level best. Don’t you deserve the best?

What are the Differences Between the iPad 1 and iPad 2?


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Apple’s new iPad 2 takes the original iPad design and improves on it in a number of key ways. But in a head-to-head comparison, which tablet is better? Do your research, and make a more informed iPad purchase decision as you weigh the options of a first gen vs the newest iteration.

The differences are certainly noticeable. One of the biggest differences is the case. The second generation is certainly shorter and squatter. It’s about half as much so as the original iPad. It makes the first one look a tad clunky in comparision. This is largely due to the fact that you can hardly see the aluminum on the edges of the iPad 2. It’s just sleeker. It weighs roughly the same. I know it IS lighter, but you honestly can’t tell the difference by holding it in your hands.

Another advantage of the iPad 2 hardware is the speaker. Even though the first gen speaker is louder than this new one, it doesn’t produce as rich of a sound. Your ears will definitely hear the difference, but the sound is just so much better this time around. You’ll enjoy the clear quality when playing music and videos.

There was a slight change made to the port where you plug your charge/sync cable in on the device. The connector for the original iPad was flat whereas this new one is more rounded. I haven’t had any trouble plugging it in as of yet, but I would have chosen the flatter area if I could have. Even though I’m not a fan of this new style of cable opening, I do much prefer the overall design ethos of the iPad 2. It just FEELS nicer in my hands.

Another difference is that the mic on the iPad 2nd gen is right about the area where the front-facing camera sits. On the WiFi only version you’ll find it in the same position. The sim card slot is in a different area. The bezel seems to be roughly the same thickness and I don’t notice any difference in the screens. They both collect way too many fingerprints. I can’t wait to get a good screen protector.

The iPad 2 comes with two cameras. Keep in mind that this device is not “A” camera. It has a camera built in as an added feature. I’ve published my thoughts on the whole camera debate already. They aren’t that great – and it doesn’t really matter. If you’re slagging Apple for having low-quality cameras, then you’re missing out.

The position of the Home button seems to be the same. Size-wise, the profile is pretty much the same. As I’ve said, the first gen iPad seems to be just a smidgen larger and more of a kluge. I can’t get over how much I love the rounded edges on the new version!

If people were to pick up the two devices and choose between them, they’re more likely to want the second version. It just looks – and feels – so much smoother.

What differences are important to you when shopping for a device? How do you decide between an older (and cheaper) model and the newest one on the market?

iPad 1 Vs. iPad 2 – Speed Test


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The new iPad 2 includes a faster processor. This means that the device runs faster, right? I decided to put the new iteration beside my old first-gen iPad in order to truly put it to the test. I’m willing to bet many of you have already done this, as well. What were your results?

It’s time to pull out some raw speed tests, don’t you think? You might be inclined to do a test within a browser. The iPad 2 certainly was faster inside of the browser and when cold-starting an app. It was slightly faster, yes. I thought it would be far more interesting, though, to try out an app which is far more system intensive – Gravilux.

You can see that the app launched just a hare quicker on the new iPad than it did on the old one. I began by tweaking a couple of settings, such as increasing the size of the dots. When tapping and holding on the screens of both devices, you can see how fluid and seamless the dots begin to move. However, take a look at the iPad 2 – the dots are going just a bit faster… and you can tell this with your own eyes.

This next test not only speaks to the boosted processor but also to the better graphics involved. I increased the number of dots on each screen. I went from 6,400 dots to 14,400 dots. It’s amazing to see how much faster and more fluidly the dots are moving around on the iPad 2. It’s not a huge difference, but it IS noticeable. That, my friends, is what matters.

Several people have posted benchmarks illustrating raw speed numbers from the two devices. I think that the usability (navigating the home screens) there simply isn’t much different. The first generation iPad is not exactly a slouch. Once apps are more optimized for this new version, we may see an even larger difference between the two. These new apps should take advantage of the better processor and graphics baked in to the new device.

I’m assuming that I will sell my first gen iPad at some point in time. I don’t really need two of them lying about the house. I wanted to hang on to it for a while in order to truly test and show you the differences as I see them.

If you know of an even better app or way to compare these two machines side-by-side, drop me a line and let me know. I’d be interested in doing some more field testing.

Logitech Pro C910 Webcam Review


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The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 promises 1080p video for Mac and Windows users. However, it’s not without shortcomings as illustrated in this combination demonstration video and review of the device.

The camera is purported to provide high-definition video up to 1080p using a wide-angle lens and auto focus. Logitech feels that it delivers picture quality which is “simply amazing.” You can video chat, blog, stream and upload to Facebook with one little tiny click. The Fluid Crystal Technology gives you smooth video style with clear images, rich colors and more:

  • Image-Perfect Tuning – World-class optics, lighting compensation and image processing make your videos, video calls and photos more breathtaking.
  • Auto Everything – Automatic adjustments for brightness, contrast, color saturation, colors, focus and face tracking make high-quality video calling and recording a breeze.
  • Internet-Ready Camera – Camcorder-quality videos, digital camera-quality stills and studio-level sound make online video sharing and communications faster, easier and more beautiful.
  • Easy Full HD video recording and sharing – Keep everyone up-to-date with stunning Full HD 1080p videos in 16:9 widescreen and publish with one click.
  • Fluid HD 720p video calling – Connect with everyone you care about in smoother HD clarity and detail.
  • Crystal-clear video and brilliant photos – Smooth autofocus and the precision Carl Zeiss pro lens keep your video calls and clips rich and sharp.
  • Sleek looks for desktops and notebooks – Flat-panel design blends nicely with your setup.

As I mentioned early on in this writeup, this device is not without its flaws. The hardware is seemingly amazing, yes. It has excellent saturation and color. The auto-focus works beautifully. Yes, I recorded in 1080p. Even though it’s high resolution, the frame rates sucks.

I’ve had nothing but issues with the software Logitech has bundled with this camera. The software is a MASSIVE fail in conjunction with a fantastic piece of hardware. I don’t understand this. It doesn’t matter how great your specs are. If the software sucks nothing else matters. I don’t get why Logitech hasn’t figured this out. Recording will randomly stop for no reason at all. I had to do more than twenty takes to get to the point I am at in this video.

We should be holding everyone’s feet to the fire when they review hardware. You have to really USE these devices before you can truly say whether it’s good or not. If someone had used this device for any length of time, wouldn’t they know that the software is a piece of garbage?

Even though I’m not happy with the way things are working out on the software side of things, I’m still seriously considering purchasing a second camera to carry with me when I travel. Quite simply, the hardware is THAT good.

Have you tried one of these out for yourself? What has your experience been like?

How to Jailbreak an Apple TV 2G


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You may have jailbroken your Apple iPhone or iPod touch, but have you thought of jailbreaking your Apple TV? Reza talks this week about doing just that. While you may be happy enough simply being able to access your iTunes content, you could be doing so much more. Jailbreaking isn’t for everyone, but Reza is dedicated to giving you the information you need to make a solid decision on whether doing this to your device is right for you. Are you getting the most out of the piece of hardware you purchased?

Reza’s Apple TV 2G is jailbroken using GreenPois0n. In order to perform this task, you’re going to need a micro USB cable. Unplug the power from the back of the Apple TV 2G and put the micro into the back and pop the USB end into your computer. Place the television into recovery mode by holding down the Menu and Play buttons together for about eight seconds. Once the little white light begins to flash, you will know you are in recovery mode and you’re able to begin your jailbreaking process.

GreenPosi0n will automagically ask if your device is the Apple TV. Once you indicate that it is – poof! You’re jailbroken. Seriously… it’s that simple. Once that process has completed, you can head into your TV and set up some custom mods and tweaks which will blow away your previous experience with the device.

The first thing you’re going to want to check out is NitoTV. This app integrates with your device seamlessly to give you a viewing experience like nothing you have ever seen before. The app allows you to play movie files in nearly any format you can think of. It even will support subtitles, which is something we’re all still hoping Apple themselves will do. NitoTV also lets you play your DVD content right from the disc, a ripped ISO or a mounted USB DVD drive. Heck, mount the ISO on your network drive and watch at your leisure.

You’ll notice that Reza has some seriously cool backgrounds on that baby. He didn’t bother grabbing anything from iTunes, of course. He used a little tool called Cyberduck. This is a fantastic FTP client for Mac OS X. Reza just SSHd into that bad boy, placed a folder in the root directory and told the machine to play those pictures as a screensaver.

Reza feels that the ability to use a Webkit-based browser puts the Apple TV on the same playing field as a Google TV. He can quickly surf the web and insert apps whenever he chooses with just a click of a button. He truly feels that by jailbreaking, the Apple offering can give its Google counterpart a serious run for its money.

Mimobot USB Flash Drive for the Geek in You

Geeks love gadgets. We love gadgets that are functional. More importantly, we love functional gadgets that are cool looking. The Mimobot Designer USB Flash Drive fits all three of these bills perfectly. These awesome little drives come in sizes from 2GB up to 16GB and offer an optional key chain attachment at a small additional cost. How suave are you going to look when you whip out your Star Wars or Halo key chain, pop off the top and stick it into your laptop or computer?

Boston-based Mimoco has fused the art of contemporary characters with personal data storage devices since 2005. They offer up flash drives housed inside of popular geek culture icons, fan-voted submissions and even an exclusive artist series. They’ve long been a favorite toy amongst elite geeks, and I’ll be giving you a chance to win one of your own later in this post.

Each drive comes packed with preloaded content for you to enjoy. The quarterly MimoZine is a video-based magazine featuring interviews with musicians, profiles of artists, coverage of fun pop-culture events and many other things you’ll expect to find at the crossroads of technology and art. You’ll also find wallpapers, icons, avatars and screensavers to enhance your desktop experience.

Your Mimobot will work on either Windows or Mac OS X, and some Linux users have reported success when plugging in their device. The flash drives are Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and are backwards compatible with USB 1.1. The little dudes and dudettes are a mere 2.5″ tall by 1″ wide, easily fitting into a pocket or purse. They don’t take up much space in your travel bag, and it’s okay if you feed them after midnight!

So now you’re wondering how you can win one of my Batman series Mimobots, aren’t you? It’s simple! Make sure you’ve checked me out on Twitter and YouTube. Choose your favorite video from my uploads, and Tweet a link to it – be sure to include @lockergnome in the Tweet so I don’t miss it! Winners will be chosen completely at random, so keep an eye out on your messages to see if we send a congratulatory Tweet your way! The contest ends next Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 11:59pm PST. Winners will be announced via Facebook and Twitter on Thursday, March 24th, 2011.

Apple Digital AV Adapter for the iPad


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The Apple Digital AV Adapter allows you to mirror anything on your iPad 2 screen to an HDTV or computer monitor with HDMI input. Use this compact little cord to show your apps, presentations and more right on your big-screen television or computer monitor. While most displays render in full 1080p, movies will play at up to 720p.

Watch your movies and slideshows simply by connecting your iPad, iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4th gen using this av cable. A second 30-ping adapter allows you to charge and sync your device while it is connected to your HDMI display.

As you can see in the video, I can view nearly everything on my iPad right on that television. Audio and video both come through very clearly. My device is not jailbroken in any way: I simply used the av adapter. Being able to output your files onto a much larger screen is nearly priceless in some instances. It has certainly made the iPad even more useful than it already was!

I’m sure by now you’re wondering why – exactly – you would even care to do something like this. After all, you bought the iPad because it is small, light and portable. However, there truly could be instances where you would want or need to see what’s on the device on a much larger screen. Perhaps you have put together a presentation you need to share for work. Instead of praying anyone other than the person next to you can see it on the iPad screen, why not plug it in to an external HDMI display?

Use your iPad to create a slideshow for your parent’s anniversary dinner and share it on a bigger screen with everyone gathered together. Shoot a video on the device to propose to your significant other and broadcast it on the television when she (or he!) least expects it. There are so many things you could do with this one tiny little white cable that it boggles the mind.

Go ahead – grab one for yourself and watch as I grin quietly instead of saying “I told you so.”

Did You Purchase the iPad 2 Today?


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The iPad 2 was released in stores today and I was definitely one of those people who chose to stand in line to get one. Did that really surprise you? A friend of mine was holding my place in the line here in my local area. There weren’t many people in line when I headed over. I chose not to go to an actual Apple store so that I could hopefully avoid having to deal with larger crowds.

I am selling both of my old iPads and am actually getting a pretty good price for them. Who says that they won’t hold resale value?! The amount I’m getting for the two older models is enough to cover the new iPad, which will be the WiFi 3G version once again – mainly for the GPS option. I will also be getting one of the SmartCovers – likely a black one. My iPad will be black, as well. I personally just don’t like white devices.

I don’t know how many of you out there are getting iPads, but two of my friends who are anti-Apple normally are both getting one. You all know one of these people fairly well. I won’t disclose his name at this point in time. Suffice to say, you will be shocked when you figure it out. It’s someone you would never have expected to own an iPad.

After recording the unboxing video, I plan to record one giving my initial impressions of the new device as well as giving a comparison of the two iPad iterations. Additionally, I want to attempt to record a video showing the differences between the iPhone 4 camera and the one built in to the iPad 2 – which admittedly isn’t that great.

I don’t think the quality of the camera really matters all that much in the grand scheme of things. How many times have you complained about the low quality of a webcam on your notebook or laptop? Has that stopped you from wanting, buying and using the device? Of course it hasn’t, so why should it stop you from buying and using an iPad? The camera isn’t what the device was created for – it’s simply an added bonus.

It’s nice to see that so many of you plan to pick up the original version of the iPad now that the prices have been dropped. Even though it’s the first generation, it’s still a fantastic device that holds its own against competitors in the marketplace.

Tobii Lets You Use a Computer with Your Eyes


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Tobii Technology touts themselves as the world leader in eye tracking and eye control. Their eye tracking technology allows computers to know where the users are looking. When I first sat down to test the software, I was amazed at how quickly it worked, taking less than two seconds to calibrate and figure out what I wanted to do. This seems much easier for users than the intendiX setup I demonstrated a few days ago.

There are millions of people in this world who cannot use a computer in the “normal” way, due to various physical challenges they may have. Some may not be able to use their hands to type or click a mouse, and that’s where the technology from Tobii can make a difference.

Tobii has revolutionized the field by developing eye trackers that work for basically any user without requiring any manual adjustments. Tobii eye trackers combine high accuracy and precision with an extremely high tolerance for large head movement and a variety of environments. The technology is compact enough to integrate into a wide range of devices and applications.

The Eye Tablet was developed using cutting-edge technology whose precision is almost incomprehensible. Not only is this tablet perfect for those with physical impairments, it also works very well in settings where your hands may not be available:

  • hospital room or surgeries
  • malls and stores
  • public venues
  • exhibitions, trade shows, conferences or fairs

It takes only a few moments to set up the Tobii tablet and eye control module. You don’t have to do weird things or wear strange-looking objects. Simply put yourself in front of the screen and perform a speedy one-time calibration. No other adjustments are ever needed. The eye control is fully automatic and simple to use, no matter what experience level you have with computers in general.

The eye control module itself has one of the market’s largest head movement boxes. This is the imaginary box where sensors can track your eyes. This means that it’s not critical to stay in the same place: you can move your head around if you wish. You won’t have to worry about interrupted tracking or losing any functionality. If you accidentally (or purposely) move out of the eye tracking area, the tracker will pick up where you left off when you return – without needing to be calibrated again.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we have talked many times over the years about “the future of technology.” I’d say that future is here. I can’t wait to see the things we’ll have at our disposal in the next few years.