Archives For Accessories

nabaztag.gifGot $150 burning a hole in your pocket? ThinkGeek’s got you covered by importing this absurb, yet strangely appealing accessory. The “Nabaztag” is configured via web browser and can receive email, announce the time, communicate the weather, read RSS feeds, play MP3s, etc. English voice duties are provided by a “sprightly” British male, though you’re also free to choose the French-speaking woman. Most services are free, though customized RSS and stock quotes run $5/mo. This little guy really takes Ambient Devices Orb concept to the next level, though I’ll be passing.

Harman Kardon has unveiled the Take Control (TC) 30, a custom branded Logitech Harmony remote. So what features does the $299 TC 30 offer over the similarly designed $99 Harmony 520? A color screen, rechargeable battery with cradle, and four more activity buttons. However… If you’re in the market for a remote with those features at that price, I’d suggest picking up the Harmony 880 which has better ergonomics and larger buttons. You can also find it on sale fairly often.

In other Harmony news, the 520 is being superceded by the 550. The updated remote adds six buttons, more closely mirroring the Harmony 360’s form.

No sooner had I contemplated the usefulness of the XM3120 did Altec Lansing send me a review sample. The compact speaker dock includes two clear plastic cutouts for either the Delphi Roady XT or the Audiovox Xpress. I’ve enjoyed using it with the Roady XT at work the last few weeks. Not only does it look sharp and sound decent, but I’ve gotten rid of Roady2 home kit cable clutter and bulky computer speakers. The bundled external antenna wisely includes 20′ of cable for placements without window exposure. XM3120 retails for about $100, which compares with the butt-ugly Belkin F5X007. However, Belkin’s offering does come with a remote control — something I’d like to have seen Altec Lansing include.

Getting the XM3120 in the mail was all the encouragement I needed to upgrade from the Roady2 to the Roady XT. As you can see from the pics, the XT is smaller and sleeker. More importantly the FM transmitter is significantly improved, resulting in better reception and higher quality audio coming through my car radio. The display is also noticeably brighter. If you’re in the market for a small plug & play XM receiver, this model with included car kit runs only about $50 – $60 after rebate at places like Amazon and Best Buy or you can pick it up for $48.34 at Walmart without any rebate hassles (which is what I did).

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Guest review by Thaed, a tech enthusiast from Cleveland, Ohio.

Can a video camera be the greatest piece of technology available today? I can tell you this is the type of wonder that this device instills in me. It’s almost like I bought something from the future. It seems that sophisticated. The button on the right starts recording in HD (720p) and the button on the left takes 5 megapixel pictures. The switch in the middle zooms in and out. The zooming mechanism is the only moving part. The camera writes its data to an SD card. I bought a two GB version. The viewfinder is the clearest I’ve ever seen and the camera is light and fits perfectly in my hands. The combination of ease of use and portability make it easily the best video camera and digital camera I have. It is a first in so many categories. It’s the first digital video recorder that got the still camera part right. It’s the first HD camera I’ve ever used. It’s the first tapeless video camera I’ve had. It does things like allowing you to make panoramic pictures by sweeping the video or extracting decent stills from video. It has a long battery life and it will use the new four GB SD cards.
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Look what I saw at CompUSA earlier today… the TiVo-branded wireless adapter. Like TiVo.com and Amazon, they’re priced at $49.99 — but you don’t have to wait for shipping. Rumor has it these puppies have also shown up at Fry’s. How long before we see them at Best Buy and Radio Shack? Maybe they’re already lining the shelves…
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Logitech Harmony 890 Reviewed

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2006

The Harmony 890 has finally hit the shelves and the reviews are trickling in. On top of the features his younger brother the 880 offers, the new model adds RF (to make it through those pesky cabinets and walls) and is fully backlit. But is that really worth the $150-$200 premium? With a list price of $399, I just can’t stomach paying more for this remote than I’d pay for an Xbox 360. Heck, it costs more than my HD tuner, DVD player, and Xbox 1 combined. The later 600 models are still my favorites of the Harmony line, though we’re currently using a 520 in our living room.

Business Week says: Logitech’s Harmony 890 Advanced Universal Remote costs more than many of the TV sets and stereo components it controls. It promises to change channels on your TV, turn up the volume on your stereo, pause your DVD player, and manage a multitude of other devices. The 890 uses radio frequencies in addition to infrared, so it can control devices behind cabinet doors or even in rooms a floor away. If it sounds a bit too ambitious — well, it is. A big problem with universal remotes is that the TVs, set-top boxes, and stereos they control are so intricate that no all-in-one remote can possibly handle every function with grace. Give the 890 credit for trying.

PC World says: It took a bit more effort to get the Harmony to work with its wireless RF extender. To enable the RF features, I had to specify whether the device I wanted to control was to be operated by the remote (via infrared) or by the extender. The 890 did practically everything I asked of it, flawlessly controlling equipment located in a nearby room. Unfortunately, my shipping unit routinely lost the connection when I tried to control my first-floor stereo equipment from the second floor, where I have remote speakers. In contrast, my year-old Home Theater Master MX-600 from Universal Remote (purchased for $450 and now available for half that much) handles this location easily.

Sony Preps Wireless AV System

Dave Zatz —  February 12, 2006

What’s a bored, snowed-in geek to do on a Sunday AM? Troll the FCC website for new products, of course!

Sony’s got a home wireless AV transmission system (HWS-AV10) in the works. It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency to relay audio, video, and IR remote signals from a component in one room to a TV in another… while likely interfering with your cordless phones and WiFi. The base station includes an IR blaster allowing you to change channels or choose TiVo recordings at a distance. The receiver smartly bundles an external antenna to fine-tune reception.

In the past, I’ve used a few variations of this device with mediocre results. I’ve had better luck using media extenders/servers over WiFi… though they require a larger investment of both time and money. If cash is no object, go whole-hog with Sony’s LocationFree TV and take your screen with you around the house. For basic video, I’d advise just fishing the coax.

Sorry, HD Beat… this puppy’s standard def only.

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