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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Coca-Cola Teams Up With The Red Cross In Japan – Creates Vending Machines That Accept Donations

Red Cross Charity Donation Vending Machine (Images courtesy Japan Trends)
By Andrew Liszewski

According to Japan Trends, the country currently has the highest number of vending machines per capita in the entire world. About one for every 23 citizens. So the Japanese Red Cross has teamed up with Coca-Cola to create a special vending machine that makes it very easy to donate towards the disaster relief efforts still underway there.

In addition to purchasing a beverage, there are two extra option buttons allowing users to donate either ¥10 or ¥100 (very small amounts) as part of their purchase. The machines are branded with the organization’s iconic red cross so they stand out among the sea of other vending machines, and until September 100% of the donations will go directly towards the earthquake relief efforts there. After that, all the donations will still go to the Japanese Red Cross, but will be used for other purposes as well.

[ Japan Trends - Red Cross Charity Donation Vending Machine ]

OhGizmo! Review – Selk’bag 4G Lite

Selk'bag 4G Lite (Image property OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

When you’re packing for an adventure in the great outdoors, particularly one that involves a lot of hiking and carrying, multi-purpose tools are the only way to go. Axes that double as shovels, spoons that double as forks and even diaries that double as toilet paper will make your trek far more enjoyable. And who says that a sleeping bag has to only be a place to sleep? Not the people at Selk’bags, that’s for sure. While their sleeping bags do provide warmth and comfort while you doze all night, their unique design allows them to be enjoyed when you’re awake as well. In fact, wearing one is kind of like never having to get out of bed!

We had the chance to try out their latest model, the Selk’bag 4G Lite, at the cottage last weekend, and you can check out our full review of it after the jump.

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iLuv iMM514 ArtStation Pro Turns Your iPad Into A Mini Home Theater

iLuv iMM514 ArtStation Pro (Images courtesy iLuv)
By Andrew Liszewski

When you inevitably get tired of holding your iPad while watching a movie, iLuv will come to the rescue with their new iMM514 ArtStation Pro ‘dock’ which turns your tablet into a miniature home theater. The iPad itself attaches to an articulated, swivelling arm ensuring it’s always positioned at the optimal angle. And it can be switched between landscape and portrait orientations for watching videos, or browsing a website.

The ArtStation Pro’s hefty base also incorporates what looks to be a generously sized speaker, if you prefer to use it as just a stereo. And an included wireless remote provides rudimentary functions like skipping tracks or adjusting the volume, while magnetically sticking to the back of the unit so it doesn’t go MIA when not in use. It’s also compatible with iPhones and iPod Touches, though it seems a little oversized to be used with those smaller devices. Available in August for $169.99.

[ PR - iLuv Launches Award-Winning ArtStation Pro ]

Deal Of The Day: $150 Off On HP Envy 14 Beats Edition

By David Ponce

HP makes a line of laptop computers called the Envy. I’m sure you’ve noticed us talking bout them quite often. And the Envy line itself comes in many flavors, one of which is the Beats Edition. It is decked out with Beats audio as well as all the other Envy goodies, like a 2nd Generation Core i5 / i7 “Sandy Bridge” CPU, 1GB Radeon HD 6630M graphics card and a bunch of other stuff. Among these, we like “Skype-certified 720- HP TrueVision HD Webcam, mini DisplayPort, HDMI, optional WWAN/3G, up to 256GB Solid State drive.” As I’m sure you can notice from the wording on these specs, not all of them are standard options and as you load up on these, the price rises. So it’s good to see a $150 coupon today, which will bring a Core i5 or i7 configuration to $899 or $999 respectively.

[ $150 Off On HP Envy 14 Beats Edition ] VIA [ LogicBuy ]

Olympus Makes A Case For Their Compact Digital Cameras With 36x Zoom

Olympus SP-810UZ (Image courtesy Olympus)
By Andrew Liszewski

I don’t like to think I’m a snob when it comes to digital cameras. But after many years of buying and upgrading equipment I guess I’ve developed some loyalties. Specifically, Canon when it comes to compact point and shoots, and Nikon when it comes to DSLRs. So normally I don’t pay too much attention to digicams from other manufacturers, except when they bring something particularly unique or impressive to the table. Like Olympus’ new SP-810UZ which features a whopping 36x zoom lens. Ensuring it will be at the top of stalkers’ Christmas wish lists this year.

If you’re having trouble crunching the numbers, that’s a 35mm equivalent range of 24-864mm. And on top of that you get 4x digital zoom too, but that’s like adding speed holes to a Bugatti Veyron. Of course a camera with that much zoom is only usable with good stabilization, so the SP-810UZ includes sensor-shift IS and an ƒ-stop range of 2.9 to 5.7. On the back you’ll find a 3-inch LCD display, though limited to 230,000 pixels, and like any digital camera these days it’s 720P ‘HD’ video capable. It’s also got a smattering of software based features like image effects, easy panoramas, beauty mode, auto-focus tracking, face detection and processed 3D. All for $329.99 come September.

[ Olympus SP-810UZ ] VIA [ DPReview ]

McIntosh Mantle Clock Looks Like An Amp, Only Tells Time

McIntosh Mantle Clock (Image courtesy McIntosh)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s probably just me, but if I was spending $1,500 on a timepiece, I’d probably put the money towards a nice watch. Not a mantle clock designed to look like one of McIntosh’s stereo power amplifiers. I’ll give credit where credit is due though. The clock is built with the same sized faceplate and meters as the actual amps, and the ‘hands’ in the 12 hour and 60 minute meters fly back when they reach the end of the scale. So the company gets high marks for their attention to detail, and I can certainly see the appeal of its soft green and blue glows in a dark room. Buuuuuuut in the end it’s still just a $1,500 clock. And I’m pretty sure even the audiophile friends you’re trying to impress would raise a skeptical eyebrow at it.

[ McIntosh MCLK12 Mantle Clock ] VIA [ Uncrate ]

Folding Canoe Fits In A Backpack

Adhoc Folding Canoe (Image courtesy designboom)
By Andrew Liszewski

The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is simple: “Be prepared.” And with this folding canoe strapped to their backs, they’ll certainly be one step closer to that goal – at least when it comes to flash floods. Created by Tsor Design’s Ori Levin, the Adhoc canoe (more like a kayak actually) weighs in at just 4.1 kg and can be collapsed into a backpack-sized package that’s easy to carry. It’s made from carbon fiber for the hull and support struts, as well as aramid, a strong, light, heat-resistant synthetic fiber used in body armor and racing sails.

It can be assembled in a mere 5 minutes, and broken down probably even quicker, making it the ideal companion for a portaging adventure. But the slightly exotic materials it’s made from ensure it would definitely be on the pricier side were it to ever go into production.

[ Tsor - industrial design ] VIA [ designboom ]

Did You Know That Astronaut’s Cameras Get Space Suits Too?

NASA Nikon D2Xs (Image courtesy NASA)
By Andrew Liszewski

Popular Photography has a brief, but interesting, interview with someone at NASA regarding how a DSLR needs to be specially prepped before it can be blasted into orbit and used on a spacewalk. Most noticeable in the photo above, featuring a camera used for astronaut training, is a white shroud surrounding the flash. It turns out that’s apparently pretty important since the flash won’t fire in the vacuum of space if left completely exposed:

The equipment under the thermal blanket is a Nikon SB-800 flash in a custom housing that is used during a spacewalk (EVA). The flash needed a special housing because it will not work properly in the vacuum of space. The housing holds air pressure so that the flash will function properly. There is also a bracket on the bottom (covered with a white thermal blanket) that the camera and flash mount to.

And, while the cameras do return to Earth after a space flight (instead of simply being jettisoned to lighten the Shuttle’s (RIP) load) they don’t always return to active duty after inspections. Apparently the unshielded radiation of space does quite a number on their sensors.

[ Popular Photography - How Does NASA Get a Nikon D2Xs DSLR Ready to Go to Space? ] VIA [ Popular Science ]

Altec Lansing Orbit Reviewed. Verdict: Nifty USB Speakers with a New Twist

By Paul McCollum

Altec Lansing, a name almost synonymous with speakers, has unveiled yet another compact pair of USB speakers, the Orbit. A perfect companion for netbooks, trying to eke every extra cubic inch of space to make the tiniest device, these speakers pack a whole lot of oomph into what is still a very compact package. They are exclusively USB powered and sourced. You won’t be able to use these with anything but a computer due to the singular USB input. They are meant to travel conveniently alongside your laptop and unpacked only when needed for fuller sound or more immersive movies.

A simple twist separates the two speakers and reveals the cabling needed for connectivity. Even though the USB cords can be tucked into special compartments in between jam sessions, Orbit would be even better if the cables were retractable. Initial opinions show that they might exceed the normally limited volume found in USB powered speakers. There’s a complete review at Everything USB that talks about exactly how much thump you can get from these and whether they deserve to carry the Altec Lansing label.

[ Full Review @ Everything USB ]