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Tag Archives: USB

R2-D2 USB Hub Makes Sounds

By David Ponce

This is old as the world, but we just came across this quasi-novelty item that could make a Star Wars lover smirk now and then. It’s an R2-D2 USB hub with 4 ports. But the better part is that it moves and makes artoo sounds.

It’s $25.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ TechEBlog ]

The Duo And The Quattro Wall Outlets Integrate USB

By David Ponce

USB is quickly becoming a standard for charging electronics. But that interface is meant to be used on computers. So if you want to plug something into the mains, you need an adapter that accepts USB on one side and plugs into the outlet on the other. Looks at your iPhone and you’ll see what we mean. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Duo and the Quattro outlets from Current Werks simply integrate the USB plugs right into their design. The Quattro is a dedicated USB charging station that delivers 22 Watts of power and features a slider that completely eliminates “Vampire Power”. The Duo is a combination USB and electric plug, and this one feeds 16 Watts into the USB port.

Currently on pre-order on the Current Werks website, the Duo is $25 while the Quattro is $40.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Treehugger ]

Is This The World’s Smallest USB Stick?

By David Ponce

Companies keep making claims of smallest this and biggest that, so we’re never really sure of anything. But as far as small USB sticks are concerned, this one from company Deonet seems like it might take the cake. Measuring 19.5 x 14.5 x 2.9 millimeters, it’s hardly bigger than a fingertip and comes in 4GB , 8GB and 16GB capacities. It accomplishes the small size through the use of a “Micro UDP chip (where UDP stands for the USB Disk In Package assembly process, which sees the controller, flash IC, substrate and passive components molded into a very small, single package), which is less than half the physical size of other USB memory solutions.”

There’s no word on price just yet, but the flash drive should be available this January.

[ Press Release ] VIA [ Geekosystem ]

Logitech C910 HD Pro Webcam Reviewed, Verdict: Nice Evolutionary Upgrade.

Logitech has advanced its webcam line recently with the release of the C910 HD Pro Webcam. They continue on with their core line of peripherals and while not being able to boast of any exciting new hardware features they have polished and refined their latest with considerable software improvements. While the current ‘best’ resolution for video is 1080p, current bus, bandwidth and hardware limitations have made this a bit of a unicorn for shared video. The technology base just isn’t available to reliably support that much streaming data. Logitech has opted to stick with refining 720p software solutions. Their hardware, Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and 5 megapixel sensor, could easily do 1080p but our USB 2.0 systems and bottlenecked Internet providers just can’t keep up. The vastly improved image software makes the best of whatever video signal you can muster and adjust light levels quickly and effectively.

This latest, the C910 HD, adds the “Pro” moniker in deference to the business software that’s been included. In the past, many webcams have been targeted at friends and family video chats but many businesses are now adopting person to person video conferencing as a daily part of your job. Logitech has answered this new direction with the inclusion of a trial version of FastAccess, a facial recognition and security software. While the results of the first round of tests have been mixed on the security, the over feeling is that Logitech has continued to move their product forward. For an exposé on all the new functions and any glaring weaknesses, head over to Everything USB for full review.

[Logitech C910 Webcam Review - Everything USB]

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.

[ Altec Lansing Orbit USB Speakers @ Everything USB ]

Lexar Dual-slot USB 3.0 Card Reader Reviewed. Verdict: USB Finally Catches Up to Faster CF Cards

By Paul McCollum

Anyone who has kept up with the megapixel boom in digital cameras knows the frustrating drawback of higher and higher resolution images: file size. Any recent DSLR camera is churning out images up to and over 10MB per picture and that’s ignoring video files. Filling up a 16GB memory card, which is almost the standard these days, wouldn’t take more than a few shooting sessions. Finally getting around to removing said pictures from their digital film canister could take hours. Flash memory has been bumped in speed a bit to be able to store high definition video and images but USB 2.0 card readers max out pretty quickly.

Lexar, a friend to digital photographers, has a new card reader that takes the leap to USB 3.0. Besides being fast, it has a compact and dust proof design that should make it easy to carry with your digital cameras. Newer, faster memory and this spry little reader gives you a fighting chance that you’ll be able to get all your one year old’s birthday pictures off your camera before he hits the terrible two’s. The jump from 40MB/s to 500MB/s sounds great but how does it actually fare when dealing with your average memory card. Performance, transfer rates and time are tested and graphed in a review posted at Everything USB.

[ Lexar Dual-slot USB 3.0 Card Reader @ Everything USB ]

Diamond VStream Wireless Video Streamer Reviewed. Verdict: Hassle-free 1080p HD Streaming

By Paul McCollum

One of the few things we are missing, here in the future, (besides our rocket skates) is high quality wireless video. Audio compression has made great advances but video is lagging, literally. Several companies have released products in the past few years but all have been plagued with connection problems or bandwidth issues. Diamond’s new Wireless USB variant, VStream Wireless HD Video Streamer, may finally have all the components to deliver high definition video without wires or the headaches.

The VStream consists of a compact receiver for connecting to an HDMI input on your TV and an even more compact USB dongle to plug into your PC. The slim Certified Wireless USB transmitter sends compressed data over Ultrawideband to the remote unit to bypass any Wi-Fi traffic. The same dongle can also flex up to 90 degrees to best angle to the receiver. Since Windows recognizes VStream as another DisplayLink’s USB monitor, you won’t run into any problems streaming NetFlix, Hulu and YouTube to your HDTV. DisplayLink driver, however, isn’t HDCP compliant so Blu-ray and iTunes movies won’t work with VStream. In terms of picture quality, there’s some bit-grate degradation at 1080p, but you will have to be comparing the wired HDMI and VStream to really see the difference. For sale at roughly $108, it is definitely competitive in the space. Detailed video quality and wireless range data is available at Everything USB.

[Diamond VStream Wireless Video Streamer Review @ Everything USB]

Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Reviewed. Verdict: Perfect Balance Between Ergonomics and Precision

By Paul McCollum

Building a better mouse trap may be a phrase nearly lost to time, but building a better mouse has never been more timely. Spending 8 to 12 hours per day at a computer, you really start to develop an appreciation for the tiniest changes in your controls. Logitech, who has made a name for itself subtly tweaking and perfecting the mouse, has made more radical changes in its line of trackballs. Their latest, the M570 Trackball, has moved the almost comfortably placed trackball out from under our fingers. The bright blue, gumball-sized sphere is now exclusively controlled by your thumb.

With the ball out of the way, the rest of the M570 looks like a perfectly comfortable mouse with four conveniently placed buttons and a scroll wheel. Ergonomics aside, the trackball is exclusively made for right handed users and there’s inherently a steep learning curve, especially for first time users. Additionally, the trackball also comes with Unifying receiver so you can easily share the wireless USB dongle with other compliant input devices, such as the Logitech K800 keyboard. Although much better for your wrists, how hard will it be to switch to using your thumbs to ‘mouse’ around? Does the more natural feel of the rest of trackball make up for having to retrain your clumsy thumb? You can decide for yourself after checking out the review at Everything USB.

[ Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Review @ Everything USB ]

Light Up Piranha Plant USB Circuit Board Keychain

Light Up Piranha Plant USB Circuit Board Keychain (Images courtesy Etsy)
By Andrew Liszewski

Normally I’m put off by pointless trinkets and crapcessories that connect to a USB port just to draw power. Like miniature desk fans and the like. But for some reason this circuit board keychain doesn’t set off the angry center in my brain. One side features a “field of traces and techno glory” while the other features one of Mario’s longtime foes- a piranha plant. And it’s an old-school piranha plant too since when plugged in to a USB port it spits a fireball. Something not seen in Super Mario titles for a few years now.

But as features go that’s pretty much it. There’s no built-in flash memory, no battery to power the red LED when it’s not plugged in, nothing. And that’s probably why they’re available from Etsy seller ‘Boardaments‘ for just $9.99 each.

[ Etsy - 'Piranha USB Circuit Board Keychain - Lights Up' ] VIA [ GoNintendo ]