Archives For Accessories

Like most gadget freaks, my buddy Matt has an impulse control problem. That’s how he ended up with the Sony Ericsson W800i, aka the Walkman Phone, with a new Cingular contract… in addition to his existing Sprint phone and contract. Not that I need an excuse for a road trip, this seemed like an excellent time to drive up to NJ and check the phone out.

Let me begin by saying I haven’t read the manual for my new Panasonic Lumix FX9, so these pictures aren’t the greatest. But trust me when I say the W800i is a sexy little phone — the unique color scheme looks sharp. The display is bright and vivid with a slick animated theme. For those of you familiar with the SE T610 and it’s derivatives, the W800i is of similar size and shape.

The phone is no iPod. It’s also no ROKR. The music interface is nice enough, though navigating via the sensitive thumbstick often resulted in overshooting selections. Sony provides a data cable and PC software to load the phone up with MP3 and AAC tracks. Unlike the ROKR, there’s no restriction on the amount of songs you can play from a Memory Stick PRO Duo card. The phone has a built-in FM receiver — a nice-to-have at my gym which broadcasts television audio via FM. I don’t normally make it a habit to share earbuds, but in the name of science I tried these. The bundled buds are small, soft, and low-profile that fit securely but comfortably — they don’t isolate sound the way my Shure’s do, but you can wear Sony’s for an extended period of time without discomfort. What really surprised me is the external speaker that puts out decent audio. I could definitely envision sitting the phone on my desk and listening to some tunes at work.
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TiVo Adapter Winner!

Dave Zatz —  January 17, 2006

Tim McKee, a software engineer in Nebraska, has won the super speedy TiVo adapter. As with my last giveaway, entrants were reverse alphabetized and the winner was randomly chosen.

For more details on the adapter, check out my review. To answer a common question, according to several reports on the TCF, yes the adapter is providing speeds equivalent to a wired connection.

Lucent’s DVR Sleep Detector

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2006

Lucent brainiacs have filed a patent application for a DVR sleep detector. They envision a DVR-integrated “apparatus” which pauses TV playback once an individual has fallen asleep. Upon regaining consciousness, DVR playback resumes. The application covers both video surveillance and physiological monitoring to determine wakefulness. No word on how they’ll handle those risqué folks who watch TV together.

Lucent says:
[0011] The sleep detector may comprise an electronic camera for forming images of the viewer, and pattern recognition means connected to the electronic camera to monitor the physical condition of the viewer. For example, the pattern recognition means determine whether the viewer’s eyes are open or shut. The apparatus may further include logic means connected to receive output from the pattern recognition means to distinguish normal blinking from the onset of sleep.

[0012] Alternatively, the sleep detector may comprise a device wearable by the viewer for monitoring the physical condition of the viewer. For example, the wearable device may include one or more of an accelerometer, a heat flux sensor, a galvanic skin response sensor, a skin temperature sensor and a near-body ambient temperature sensor.

[0013] The sleep detector may be connected to the digital video recorder via direct electrical connection or via a remote-control type interface.

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Sling LinkSling Media currently ships the Slingbox without an integrated wireless adapter or USB port. If your living room isn’t hard-wired for data, connecting requires the purchase of a network bridge. SlingLink attempts to capitalize on that oversight as a branded HomePlug Powerline network adapter. I prefer the Sling folks focus on providing wireless support, either built-in or as a USB accessory, with Slingbox2 rather than peddling uncommon network gear.

Sling Media says: With Intellon’s HomePlug standard technology, SlingLink adapters allow consumers to quickly and easily connect Sling Media’s Slingbox – an award-winning product that allows consumers to access their living room television experience at any time, from any location in the world – to a home network, by simply plugging the adapters into existing electrical outlets. With SlingLink adapters, every outlet in a home can have the same broadband connection available. This is especially important where the TV or cable connection is not located in the same room as the customers’ home Internet connection.

Logitech Harmony 520 In The Flesh

Dave Zatz —  September 23, 2005

Harmony 520Logitech has begun shipping the new Harmony 520 to select Walmarts, which resulted in numerous phone calls and a distant quest to two stores. Why Walmart you ask? Logitech is aiming squarely down market with this $99 model – and I’ve concluded the cost corresponds directly to the number of buttons.

The main differences between the 520 and the 6xx line are obviously the the new physical design, dropping the hard coded activity buttons along with many others, and the introduction of new software – for under a hundred bucks.

As with other models, Harmony remotes are configured online using a web-based wizard with your custom settings being downloaded via USB into the remote. The 520 is the first in the Harmony line using updated configuration and connectivity software. Logitech promises this will eventually be available to all Harmony devices – in fact it is currently willing to configure my old 659, though I haven’t tried. Keeping with the Harmony way, you program your remote using activities. For example a Watch DVD activity might turn on your TV, switch the input source, turn on the DVD player, and dim your Lutron lights. Soft buttons listed in the LCD allow for an unlimited amount of function keys.
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