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Monthly Archives: June 2013

FreeCharge Weza – Pump Up The Power

Freeplay FreeCharge Weza (Images courtesy C. Crane)
By Andrew Liszewski

Not unlike those wind-up flashlights or radios that have become quite popular as of late the FreeCharge Weza from Freeplay can also directly convert physical activity into usable power. In this case the Weza has a built-in foot pedal not unlike those used in air pumps which is used to spin a generator inside the unit.

In this case though instead of an inflated air mattress or bike tire you’re left with power at up to a 40-watt rate that’s used to charge an internal battery which can provide direct 12-volt power. With the proper cabling or converters the Weza can then be used to power emergency lighting, recharge electronics or even jump start a car. Now unfortunately it’s not specified how much pumping is required to fully charge the battery but given how much effort is needed to power a small LED flashlight you’re probably in for a great workout with this thing.

The FreeCharge Weza is available on the Freeplay website for $269.99.

[Freeplay FreeCharge Weza] VIA [Gizmag]

Elecom QR Barcode Reading Mouse

Elecom QR Reading Mouse (Image courtesy Akihabara News)
By Andrew Liszewski

Even though they don’t seem to be as popular in North America as they are elsewhere odds are you’ve seen those 2D QR barcodes at some point. You know, they’re those weird little square graphics that are made up of what appears to be random patterns of smaller squares. Well in reality those patterns aren’t random and those small squares can actually hold a surprising amount of encoded text.

Elecom now has a USB mouse with a built-in optical QR reader that can handle both the traditional black and white versions of those barcodes as well as the newer color versions which actually hold less data and are typically only used as pointers to websites.

[Elecom QR Reading Mouse] VIA [Akihabara News]

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D-Link DHP-301 Powerline Network Kit

D-Link DHP-301 (Image courtesy D-Link)
By Andrew Liszewski

These days there’s a lot more hardware at home than just computers that can be networked. Game consoles, network printers and even digital media players now want in on the ability to easily communicate with each other. Wi-fi is of course a great option but not everything supports it right out of the box so old fashioned cabling is usually the way to go.

But if you’re home is not already wired for a computer network laying new cable throughout the house can be a pain. However it’s probably safe to say your home is wired for power and that’s where the D-Link DHP-301 comes into the picture. The adapters simply plug into any power outlet and then use the power lines as network cable providing speeds of up to 200Mbps. All in all it’s a pretty nice solution that’s easy to install but on the downside it does mean more hardware that needs to be plugged in.

The DHP-301 starter kit which includes two adapters should be available now and has an MSRP of $219.99.

[D-Link DHP-301 Powerline Network Kit] VIA [eHomeUpgrade]

San Francisco Company To Build Two Solar-Powered Hybrid Ferries

solar powered trimaran ferryBy David Ponce

We’ve met our share of treehuggers, and while they seem like nice enough people, we just don’t share their enthusiasm for tying ourselves to trees and such. Instead, we contribute to our planet’s well being by doing the next best thing: pointing to cool, eco-friendly technology. Like, news of this very slick, and somewhat strange looking Trimaran hybrid diesel/solar-powered ferry, that will soon connect tourists in San Francisco with the seemingly much visited Alcatraz. The project is being undertaken by Hornblower Yachts, a commercial charter outfit in conjunction with Solar Sailor of Sydney, Australia. They plan to build

Two 600-passenger trimarans, at a cost of between $6 million and $8 million apiece, that will run on as much on sun and wind power as they do diesel fuel?and will emit half the pollutants of a similar sized conventional ferry. The triple-hulled vessel will have a 45-foot high retractable wing covered in solar panels that can generate 20 kilowatts of electricity to help take the load off the two diesel engines. 600pax_tri_side_lr The wing also generates some 170 hp on its own as a sail.

The boats should be seaworthy by 2008 and 2011.

VIA [Business Blog]

Rumor: Zune To Feature Pyramid-Like Marketing Feature

microsoft zune

By David Ponce

Well, it’s a bit of a stretch for a headline, but hear us out. The guys at CrunchGear are hitting the rumor mill with news that the upcoming Microsoft Zune will come with a very interesting ability, one that just may give it an edge over the unmentionable white music monolith (at least if we ignore the crippled WiFi). Here’s how it goes. You already know that with the Zune, you can share your songs with other people. They can keep them for three days, or listen to them three times, after which they auto-destruct. If your friends wants to keep any given song, it’ll cost them, to the tune of a buck. But, the kicker is that, each time they do purchase a song, you’ll get a credit. You can later redeem these credits yourself for songs in the Zune Marketplace. This should give you an incentive to share like mad, in the hopes that your friends will buy. If the scheme works, it should make some mad cheddar for Bill and friends.

But of course, it’s a rumor, and we don’t really know anything around here. So, there you have it.

[Crunchgear Article]

The Linutop Offers No Frills Open Source Tube Surfing

the linutop

By David Ponce

It’s nice to know that if all you really want to do is surf the internet, so you can use The Google, you don’t actually have to spend on a full size ‘puter. The Linutop is a small desktop device that runs Linux, and doesn’t actually have a hard drive. It runs on an AMD Geode processor, with 512 Mb ROM and 256 Mb RAM. No frills it is, but it’s certainly enough to surf and write papers. And with stuff like Google Docs And Spreadsheets, perhaps the dedicated internet appliance won’t fail as quickly as it did, the last time it was tried, a few year ago. We can certainly see this taking off in their intended market: libraries, hotels, internet cafes, etc.

We’re not sure how much the device sells for, likely because it hasn’t entered production yet. Availability is “coming soon”. For a full list of specs and other links, read the full article.

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LaCie’s Porsche Design Biometric Drive Reviewed. Verdict: Gotta Love Hardware Encryption

By Ian Chiu

I bet all of you have seen at least a couple of different implementations of fingerprint biometric security. Fingerprint sensors can be found on laptops, thumbdrives, card readers and so on. LaCie is now putting one on their PORSCHE Design USB hard drive. Also notice the mile-long product name? They’ve added Triple DES hardware acceleration to this model so people can’t just crack open the case and retrieve the data on another PC. As secure as it may seem, the LaCie is significantly slower with Triple DES enabled. The fingerprint is however platform independent so you can use it on both Mac & PC. Let’s wait until they add palm vein reader and things are going to get a lot more interesting.

Here’s the verdict:

If you need to feel secure with your data on the go, the LaCie SAFE Mobile USB Hard Drive will do just that, but with costly tradeoffs.

[LaCie SAFE Mobile USB Hard Drive with Encryption 80GB Review @ Everything USB]

Seitz Roundshot D3 Panoramic Camera

Seitz Roundshot D3 Panoramic Camera (Image courtesy Seitz Phototechnik)By Andrew Liszewski

While you can take your own 360 degree panorama shots with the right lens and a small roundtable why not go all out and do it right? The Seitz Roundshot D3 can create a full rotation digital panorama in only 2 seconds and the resulting images are composed of about 470 million pixels. The sensor on the D3 gives the camera an impressive ISO/ASA range of 500 to 10,000 and the unit even includes a 640×480 touch screen that can be used for previews and as a wireless remote.

Of course keep in mind that an uncompressed 360 degree panorama shot taken by the camera at 48-bits will weigh in at about 2.7GB so the unit relies on a special portable hard drive that it connects to via gigabit ethernet. I guess swapping out SD cards after every photo is just not practical.

A mobile version of the Roundshot will be available for $37,463 but why not save a few bucks and just go with the studio version which only costs $34,906. Both models are due for release in early 2007 so make sure to preorder yours now.

[Seitz Roundshot D3] VIA [Camborg]

Sony Bravia Phone

Sony Bravia Phone (Images courtesy Akihabara News)By Andrew Liszewski

Even though I currently use a Nokia, deep down I’m still a fan of both Sony Ericsson and the flip-phone form factor. Unfortunately SE’s flip-phone offerings to date have been typically far too large to nicely fit into a pocket (especially in the era of the RAZR) but it looks like things are improving.

Falling under the Bravia product line of all things this new Sony phone has some pretty impressive features. It’s a 3G FOMA model with a QVGA screen that actually uses the same “Reality MAX” buzzword-technology as Sony’s HD Bravia TVs do. The phone also functions as an MP3 player with a usable 1GB of internal storage but a very impressive 45 hours of playback time when in walkman mode. It even has a 3.2 megapixel camera with built-in image stabilization for the photographically challenged.

[Sony Bravia Phone] VIA [Akihabara News]