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Tag Archives: Hardware

Buffalo’s USB Hub Likes To Go Both Ways

By David Ponce

Even though in theory there is a 50/50 chance that you will insert a USB plug into its socket in the correct orientation, in practice things are much different. We’d rate the odds at 1/10, while the likelihood of having a rage-induced USB-connecting coronary much, much higher. Buffalo’s latest 4-port USB hub fixes this small but annoying issue by accepting a USB cable both ways. It doesn’t do USB 3.0 (yup, USB 2.0 here) or do anything else interesting for that matter. But it’s sometimes the small things that go a long way to making our lives just a bit more pleasant. It’s going to set you back $23 and comes in four colours. We’re just not sure exactly when it’s available.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Fark ] DVR Records Entire Week Of Television So You Never Miss A Show Again

By David Ponce

If you live in the UK and enjoy free-to-air Freeview TV, there’s some news for you. A company called has announced the availability of a very special DVR. See, the Promise Seven records a rolling 7 days of every single Freeview channel; every show, every radio broadcast, simultaneously. You don’t have to program your DVR since anything you might have hoped to watch over an entire one week period is right there. That’s over 10,000 programs. The oldest programs get deleted automatically to make room for the new ones, unless you tell the device to store something for longer.

Now, fascinating as this all sounds, there are some negatives. For one, the price: the Promise Seven is a hefty £1,998 inc VAT. A smaller 3-day version is £1,200, though that’s still a lot of cash. Also… they look sort of funny. Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, and yeah, we did make a case for the rise of the use of wood in consumer electronics but this DVR just looks bad. Maybe it’s the way the photo is taken. And that remote? What is this, the 80’s? Well, in any case, if it performs as advertised, all of that shouldn’t matter. It’s available in the London area now and will roll out to the rest of the UK during the year.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ BoingBoing ]

OCZ Releases 1TB SSD, The Octane

By David Ponce

We’re sure you’ve heard, but solid state drives are awesome. Low power consumption, smaller footprint and blazing fast speeds. Sadly they have tended to come in generally smaller capacities, which is why the Macbook Air comes with so little storage. But things are slowly changing. OCZ has announced the world’s first SSD drive to hit the 1TB mark. And it looks like it’ll have some very impressive specs:

Indilin Everest control will feature a 512MB DRAM cache, with the SATA 3.0 featuring read speeds of 560MB/s and write speeds of 400MB/s, and the SATA 2.0 with read and write speeds of 275MB/s and 265MB/s respectively.

Of course whenever you’re talking about a product that’s pushing the envelope, it’ll also be pushing the wallet. Although no official price has been released for this drive, you can expect it to be somewhere around $1.20 per GB.

[ Press Release ] VIA [ UberGizmo ]

Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard With Retractable Keys

Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard (Images courtesy Levitatr)
By Andrew Liszewski

On-screen keyboards are fairly usable when it comes to compact devices like smartphones, but when you’ve decided to swap your laptop for a tablet and need to do some serious typing, a physical keyboard is still where it’s at. So it’s no surprise that with the iPad and plethora of other tablets to hit the market over the past few years, the selection of wireless portable keyboards has also increased. Apple still sells one of the best IMO, in terms of form factor, size and design. But James Stumpf hopes to give them a run for their money, at least in the design department, with his new Levitatr portable keyboard.

It’s wireless, relying on a Bluetooth connection to talk to your tablet or other portable device, and features a 12.5mm thick machined aluminum chassis so it’s rigid and sturdy. But its real claim-to-fame is that the entire keyboard retracts when not in use, sitting flush with the rest of the keyboard’s surface. The idea is to prevent accidental key presses while the Levitatr is being carried in your bag, but it also serves to keep dirt and crumbs out. The keys are backlit, which from what I can tell is the only way to discern what each one does, and the whole thing is powered by a set of 4xAA batteries. It even comes with a simple aluminum kickstand designed to prop up your tablet or smartphone.

You can’t go out and buy the Levitatr just yet, though. At the moment it’s just a Kickstarter project with quite a ways to go before it reaches its $60,000 funding goal. But since the keyboard seems to be popping up on blogs all over the interwebs today, I’m sure it will be getting a much needed boost. If you do think it’s an innovation you can’t live without, a pledge of $79 will effectively serve as a pre-order once they go into production.

[ Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen

Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen (Images courtesy Wacom)
By Andrew Liszewski

Wacom, makers of the finest PC drawing tablets you can buy, have decided that even their smallest solution, the Bamboo, isn’t small enough for digital artists on the go. So they’ve created the Inkling. A digital pen that captures your sketches, drawings and presumably even notes, allowing them to be later imported into Photoshop or Illustrator as raster or vector graphics.

The fact that it gives you access to your drawings as vector versions is pretty exciting, even letting you separate your artwork into multiple layers while you’re creating it. And while the ability to use it with any kind of paper or notebook is certainly convenient, we’ve found that approach has unique problems of its own. (Read about my issues with the EPOS at the bottom of this review.) But perhaps Wacom has overcome the issues associated with these kinds of sensor + pen capture devices, and maybe the Inkling will be well worth $199.99 when it’s available this October.

[ Wacom Inkling ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

RotoSub’s R-ANC Technology = Self-Silencing Cooling Fans

RotoSub's R-ANC Technology (Image courtesy RotoSub)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’ve ever been driven completely mad by the sound of one of your PC’s cooling fans (anyone? no? it’s just me then?) you’ll certainly appreciate the improvements a Swedish company called RotoSub has made to them. While it can’t eliminate the sound of the air rushing through the blades, their R-ANC (Active Noise Control) technology effectively deals with sounds generated by the fan’s mechanical moving parts, which typically are the annoying culprit.

Normally, noise cancelling technologies use a microphone and a separate speaker to generate sound waves that are out-of-phase with the sound being eliminated. And as the two signals combine, they effectively cancel each other out. From what I can tell the R-ANC technology works in a similar fashion, except that instead of a speaker, the noise-cancelling out-of-phase signals are generated by the blades themselves as their ‘angle of attack’ is modulated ever so slightly. The company’s website doesn’t do a great job at explaining how the technology works, but the demonstration in this video below certainly shows it’s effective.

And in case you were wondering, that whole plastic tube setup in the product shot above is just part of their demo system that makes it easier to hear the noises being cancelled. The R-ANC equipped fans will be no different than the fans currently used in desktop computers and other electronics, save for using a touch more electricity in the process.

[ RotoSub’s R-ANC Technology ] VIA [ CNET ]

QUMA Motion Capture Puppet

QUMA Motion Capture Puppet (Images courtesy SoftEther)
By Andrew Liszewski

Instead of poking, pulling and adjusting a 3D character in your CG software using a mouse or stylus. The QUMA (pronounced Cooma), from Japanese company SoftEther, works kind of like those 3D wooden mannequins that artists often pose when sketching the human body. Except that the QUMA connects to your PC over USB, and the majority of the puppets’ joints feature sensors that not only detect when they’ve been moved and adjusted, but also translate those movements to the character in your 3D software.

For stop-motion artists who are used to manipulating a physical character it’s probably a great way to transition to the virtual CG world. And even for experienced CG artists it seems like a very quick way to rough in a specific pose or gesture on a character. Pricing and availability info for QUMA has yet to be announced, though SoftEther does have an SDK available for 3D software companies wanting to ensure their particular package is compatible. (You may just want to write those plugins yourself SoftEther.)

[ QUMA Motion Capture Puppet ] VIA [ TechCrunch ]

Vodafone’s Webbox Keyboard Brings Easy Internet To Emerging Markets

Vodafone Webbox Keyboard (Image courtesy Vodafone)
By Andrew Liszewski

In an attempt to make getting online as easy and affordable as possible for people living in emerging markets, Vodafone has created the Webbox, which is an all-in-one, plug-and-play keyboard computer. As you can see it’s completely lacking a display of any kind, and that’s because it’s designed to plug into any television using its built-in A/V cable, kind of like a modern version of the Commodore 64. And by taking the display costs out of the equation, the Webbox, which is now available in India (it was originally launched in South Africa) only costs around 5800 Rupees, or about $130.

Internet access is provided by a Vodafone SIM card supporting 2.5G and EDGE data networks, and according to TheNextWeb, the cost of the device includes 12GB of data usage. (We’re assuming that’s not monthly.) In addition to browsing the web using the Opera mini browser which minimizes the data load, the Webbox also includes apps for checking email, text messaging, an FM radio, a photo album, a music player, calculator, calendar, games and even a basic text editor. A built-in microSD card slot presumably serves as the devices main storage, which is handy because whatever’s not stored in ‘the cloud’ can be easily shared, in theory, by swapping microSD cards with other Webboxes.

[ Vodafone Webbox ] VIA [ TheNextWeb ]

Seagate GoFlex 1.5TB Portable Drive Reviewed. Verdict: Perfect Match of Size and Speed

By Paul McCollum

Portable hard drives have been an indispensable tool for data backup on the go. Seagate has stayed in the forefront of this market for a number of years and the company has recently outfitted their drives with the GoFlex interchangeable interface adapter to make their drives future-proof. The latest 2.5″ GoFlex model has 1.5TB storage and the choose-your-own connector drive now comes with the USB 3.0 adapter and includes a standard mini-USB 3.0 cable. Other connection kits including eSATA and Firewire 800 which can be purchased separately for maximum performance based on your available connections.

The 1.5TB FreeAgent GoFlex is vast and fast but gives up some of its svelte form to pack on the extra gigabytes. The extra bulk is only noticeable in comparison to other drives of the same ilk but under most circumstances, you will never notice the 0.25″ or so of extra thickness. Performance metrics put this drive well above USB 2.0 drives and significantly above previous USB 3.0 drives. Performance data and other details are all covered in an in depth review at Everything USB.

[ Full Review @ Everything USB ]