Digital Life: What I Saw, Day Two

October 13, 2006

Like most (all?) tech (or all?) companies, I don’t like to pre-announce what’s going to appear here. Not because of the potential disaster of “sales” dropping or “customers” going elsewhere, but because certain technical aspects might prevent fulfilling my obligation.

For instance, tonight I plan to write about the Sony Reader again, as well as the new Pepper Pad 3. But since I am doing this away from home on the Nokia 770, it all depends on whether the 770’s battery holds out! No AC where I am.

For now, there’s this:

The Microtrack 24/96 – Billed as a “professional 2-channel mobile digital recorder,” it looks like it would be a necessary piece of equipment for those who take (p)odcasting seriously.

Neuros – Displaying and explaining their mpeg4 recorder 2 and OSD, both of which can “record live TV, movies, TV shows and home videos from any source (Cable/Satellite TV, DVD, DVR/PVR, VCR, Camcorder, Console Games…)” and “play [the recordings] directly on most handhelds: Video iPod, PSPs, Smartphones and mobile phones, PDA/Pocket PC, PMP and laptops.” I’d never before seen these in person and was shocked at how tiny they are. (You can tell my video days are rooted in VHS tapes!) Neuros is offering 20% off by using the Coupon Code DL2006.

iSee – A remarkable add-on for the iPod (5G 60/80GB models excluded) that allows video to be recorded directly onto and iPod and then played on its larger screen. Get this: You can also record to the (original) nano! I saw a nano playing back video with my own eyes.

Steffi Thomas, Inc. – A handsfree cellphone headset that can also be attached to a fashion headband. Not only are they stylish, they have the extraordinary quality of actually fitting women’s ears! (That’s right, guys. It’s not your gal’s ears — it’s the man-sized plugs!) They’re offered for sale at Swapsets.

nowthen – A site launched just yesterday [Oct 12 2006] hat enables people to upload via MMS text messaging cellphone-cam photos to quickly share with others.

LimeLife – A website “with a dedicated focus on the women’s market,” is something I’m not qualified to judge!

White Box Robotics – Demonstrating its PC-BOT. It has a jawbreaker price right now, but by next year should cost half that. It uses industry-standard parts so, for example, its bundled webcam can be swapped out for a higher-resolution one.

Stacker 2 Energy Shot – I tried the BlackJax drink. Tasted, as forewarned, like medicine. Like a cough syrup. I didn’t feel particularly different. My broadband metabolism probably didn’t even notice it.

Digital Life: What I Saw

October 13, 2006

New York City, Javits Convention Center, October 12-15, 2006

Treo 680 – Palm’s latest entry into the smartphone market is a looker. Offered in four colors with a matte metallic finish, the color to get is Red (OK, Palm calls it Crimson). This feels very nice in the hand. With a 2-year plan from a carrier, the expected price is $199. I expect Treo’s market share to explode. Watch out Nokia and Samsung!

Mophie – A producer of iPod cases, they were showing the first 2G iPod Shuffle accessory, a plastic attachment that allows the cord length of earphones to be adjusted without tangling or snagging. Of special note is that their website is constantly updated with new products they are designing.

GelaSkins – A remarkable set of protective skins for iPods. Made of material and adhesive used in the automotive industry, the designs are outstanding. (Pastafarians will want the Flying Spaghetti Monster!) These add a nice grip and feel to naked iPods.

Cordgo – A clever circular device for storing and adjusting earphone cord length.

Supacam – A thin and easily-pockected tapeless video camera that also plays MP3s and video, plus shoots 12-megapixel still photos.

Ask – A must-have item is the little booklet of tips for using this search engine. I didn’t know it could convert measurements (e.g., inches to centimeters) or give walking directions in New York City!

ThisNext – A social site for shopping/product recommendations. “We call it a shopcasting network.” Less than a month old, it’s worth a look.

Outstanding Stuff

HD-DVD: My God! Toshiba has won me over to their side. The demos they gave were just outstanding. The clarity of the images, the depth of the sound, and the multitasking and bookmarking features of HD-DVDs are just stunning.

Blu-Ray: Sony shot itself in the foot. I did not find Blu-Ray’s demonstrations to be anything except lackluster. The images lacked depth, there were compression artifacts, and I saw no reason for Blu-Ray to exist other than the fact Sony created it. It’s too bad Apple is going with Blu-Ray.

Ersatz Zune: I got to fondle the progenitor of the Zune, the Toshiba Gigabeat. The fit, finish, and size of it were all impressive. The screen, however, was not as sharp as the 5G iPod and overall is 3rd-place behind the Creative Zen Vision:M. Still, the interface was easy to grasp (easier than the Creative!) and fluid to use. Zune will be strong stuff against the iPod.

The Oh. My. God. Moment

Sony Reader – Let’s get this out of the way first: you do not want to buy it. As impressive as the e-ink screen is (and it is damned impressive!), it has a fatal flaw: refresh. To move from one page to the next, the entire screen turns black and white — an ugly and distracting black and white that seriously deteriorates the reading experience. This is too bad. I kept wondering for hours afterwards if there wasn’t some sort of clever cross-fade animation Sony could devise to make it better. The Oh. My. God. Moment came in picking it up. This is a masterpiece of design and engineering. It is what a totable computer should be. This is what the Nokia 770 and all UMPCs should be like. Just this exact size and thickness. This is science-fiction come to life. It is worth your time to get to any store that has it just to hold it.

UPDATE: See my four-part series about the Sony Reader. Its Index is here.