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Monthly Archives: May 2007

Microsoft Surface: “It’s Real And It’s Spectacular!”

In the dead of the night, Microsoft has taken the wraps off Surface, formerly known only as Project Milan. MS Surface is a surface computing device, one which could very well change the way we expect to interact with technology. “Surface computing device” really means that it’s a touch-sensitive table, with a powerful PC inside, and fancy software running. But the things it can do are stunning. It allows you to manipulate digital pictures as if they were right there in front of you, while resizing on-the-fly. It interacts with other devices, such as Zune’s and cellphone, allowing you to drag multiple “objects” into them, be them pictures, songs, maps, itineraries or calendar items. It recognizes the object with which it is being touched, allowing you to use paintbrushes, pencils or other tools the way they’re intended to be used. The list go on for some time.

Right now, the technology is aimed squarely at hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues where the use of such hardware could revolutionize point-of-sale dynamic for some time to come. Things like placing an order in a restaurant, or splitting a bill in a particular way become possible in a way never before experienced. The price tag will also likely keep it out of consumers, at least initially, with MS Surface expected to cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000.

For a fuller picture, you should really watch the above video, a Popular Mechanics exclusive. We sound like gushing groupies, but you might share some of our feelings once you’ve seen for yourselves. Release date: Winter 2007.

VIA [ Everywhere ]

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the headline is a slightly modified Seinfeld reference.

Stereo Bluetooth Gets Cheap, Collapsible

By Evan Ackerman

BluPhonesGear4 is selling a new set of stereo bluetooth headphones, which offer many of the same features as other sets of stereo bluetooth headphones (works as a headset, pauses for calls, has buttons that do stuff, mediocre battery life), albeit in a relatively cheap (at £49.99) and relatively foldable package. It’s the foldability that especially interests me. The BluPhones have a bendable piece of memory wire across the back, which lets you wad them up and messily stuff them away while not in use.

I have to say that the on/in-ear bits don’t exactly look comfortable in the picture, but then, I’m a fan of around-ear headphones, because they help me all the more legitimately ignore the rest of the world. And while having to have battery powered headphones is never a good thing, the lack of wires more than makes up for it.

[ Gear4 BluePhones ] VIA [ Tech Digest ]

Wobble LCD Clock Wobbles & Tells Time – That’s About It

Wobble LCD Clock (Images courtesy Vat19)
By Andrew Liszewski

The advanced technology used in this Wobble LCD Clock is the same used in the Weebles toys from Hasbro and even those inflatable clown punching bags. By adding a particularly heavy base the center of gravity is shifted meaning that no matter how hard you hit this clock it’s always going to return to an upright position.

Unfortunately though that’s all the fun you’re going to get from it. Besides the LCD screen that displays the date and time the Wobble Clock does nothing else. It doesn’t even include some sort of motion sensitive mechanism to turn off an alarm when it’s bumped. Come to think of it it doesn’t even include an alarm either.

But as just a novelty or ‘design-minded’ item I guess $5.99 is not that unreasonable. Get it now from Vat19 in either gray, red or white.

[ Wobble LCD Clock ] VIA [ Gear Live ]

Beatnik Announces New Digital Music Format Ten Times Smaller Than MP3

Audio Waveform (Image courtesy Andrew Liszewski

When the MP3 file format was created it came at just the right time to be small enough for PC users to amass large collections while still providing audio quality comparable to a CD. And since computer storage has grown by leaps and bounds over the years there hasn’t really been the need to improve upon the way MP3s are compressed.

However US software company Beatnik, which was founded by Thomas Dolby has developed a new audio file format that can reduce the size of a song up to ten times more than the MP3 format can. The new format finds parts of the song that occur more than once and only stores a single copy of that part in the file. Then when the song is being played back those parts are loaded on the fly and seamlessly integrated back into the music.

The new format was specifically created for the mobile phone market where over-the-air track delivery is becoming more and more popular. The smaller file sizes allow for a quicker delivery and of course less bandwidth charges. Just don’t expect iTunes to be switching over to the new format anytime soon and I guarantee there are ‘audiophiles’ already turning their noses up at it.

[ Beatnik announces New Digital Music Format for Faster Downloads ] VIA [ Phone Scoop ]

‘Create A Commie’ Toy For Kids

Create A Commie (Images courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re a communist your kids aren’t going to grow up sharing your unique political ideologies playing with a Wooly Willy now are they? That’s why you need to replace the classic version of that toy with this ‘Create A Commie’ version instead. Just like with Willy you use a magnetic wand to position metal filings over the starting face to make eyebrows, mustaches, beards and even odd birthmarks.

Since the governments of the world are more concerned with terrorists than commies these days you also won’t have to worry about your children being black listed if they’re caught putting a hilarious mustache on Lenin, or tweaking Castro’s beard till it’s just right. The packaging even includes drawings of everyone’s favorite communists you can use for reference. I have to admit it’s quite interesting how the generic starting face can be used to accurately recreate so many famous communists… Coincidence!?!?

Get yours from for $6.95.

[ Create A Commie ]

PlasmaRiser Probably Works With LCDs Too

PlasmaRiser (Image courtesy DSD Designs)By Andrew Liszewski

You just dropped a bundle on that new Plasma or LCD TV so why limit its use to only the living room? The PlasmaRiser provides a safe and easy way to transport your new TV all over the house allowing you to enjoy it everywhere from the kitchen to the bedroom.

Besides the 4 industrial style locking wheels that allow your TV to be easily rolled (as opposed to carried) the PlasmaRiser is also capable of raising or lowering your TV into its protective shell. That way during transport you don’t have to be worried about something damaging the delicate screen. And once you’ve got the PlasmaRiser repositioned just plug the unit in and at the push of a button your TV rises back up again. There’s even an impressive selection of optional extras including an infra-red remote or even voice control, internal flat screen speakers, LED illumination and a weatherproof transportation cover.

The PlasmaRiser is available in either a black or white lacquered finish (or in a custom order corporate color scheme) for about $2,500.

[ PlasmaRiser ] VIA [ Freshome ]

PodXtreme Packs A Lot Of Sound Into A Small Speaker

PodXtreme (Image courtesy Gadget Universe)By Andrew Liszewski

The market for compact, portable speakers is definitely not lacking in selection these days. But when it comes to sound quality that’s a different story. When you spend $20 on a pair of small speakers they’re going to sound like $20 speakers. The PodXtreme however claims to provide impressive sound output in a very small, pocket-sized speaker.

One of the reasons the PodXtreme can outperform other speakers is that it has a built-in power source. It uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can be topped off via a USB connection or plugged into an AC outlet. This of course allows for much more volume than you’d get with an unpowered speaker. The PodXtreme also claims to have impressive bass performance thanks to the extended part you can see sticking out in the photo. (Which helps to ‘elongate’ your sound of course.) Thanks to the accordion design it can also be collapsed when the speaker is not in use allowing for even a smaller form factor.

I can’t say for sure whether or not the PodXtreme actually lives up to its claims but at only $29.95 from Gadget Universe it might be worth a shot.

[ PodXtreme ] VIA [ The Red Ferret Journal ]

Eco Kettle Boils Only What You Need

Eco Kettle (Image courtesy Gizoo)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s claimed that most of us boil twice the amount of water we need when using a kettle which equates to about twice as much energy being used than is really needed. To solve this problem the Eco Kettle is designed as a ‘smart’ electric kettle that can be set to specifically boil between 1 to 8 cups of water at a time. In other words exactly what you need. Just fill up the jug’s reservoir and when you start the boiling process the specified amount of water is automatically released into a separate boiling chamber where it is heated.

Besides using over 30% less energy the Eco Kettle is considerably faster too taking only 35 seconds to boil 1 cup of water and under a minute and a half to boil 4 cups. It also uses a power base that plugs into the wall allowing the kettle itself to be cordless and easy to handle.

Deep down everybody wants to be eco-friendly but there’s the constant stigma of being labelled a hippie or even dare I saw, a tree hugger. Thankfully there’s products like this which are friendly to the environment while still blending in with other household appliances.

The Eco Kettle is currently available from Gizoo for about $70.

[ Eco Kettle ]

Sony CDX-HS70MW – Marine Stereo

Sony CDX-HS70MW Marine Head Unit (Image courtesy Sony)
By Andrew Liszewski

Sony makes some great gear when it comes to car stereos but did you know they also make stereo equipment for boats too? The CDX-HS70MW is a Marine-ready ‘in-dash’ CD player that also includes MP3 and ATRAC3 functionality as well as support for satellite radio. The front panel uses large, easy to press buttons and not surprisingly is not only splash-proof but is also finished with UV and salt-resistant paint. And like with some of the automotive stereos in Sony’s ‘Xplod’ line it can be used to access and control an attached iPod.

Of course the dashboard on a boat is not exactly like those found in a car and often times the mounting surface can be angled. So the CDX-HS70MW is specially designed to allow for optimal performance even when installed up to a 45 degree angle.

The Sony CDX-HS70MW has an ESRP of $299.95 and should be available now.

[ Sony CDX-HS70MW ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]