Archives For Accessories

I doubt we’ll ever see a single, universal cable or connector to power each and every single mobile gadget… However, given the various devices that pass through my home and auto, it appears like we’ve settled on a solid trio of options.

Of course, there’s the iEcosystem’s dock connector. Yeah, it’s mostly proprietary. But given the vast number of iPods, iPhones, and iPads in circulation, it’s essentially the standard for many. Mini USB seems to be broadly deployed as well. Although, it’s clearly losing ground to the slimmer Micro USB connector. In fact, that revelation is what inspired this post. Just about every non-iDevice I’ve come across in recent months sports Micro USB. See my Blackberry Tour, Droid X (loaner), and Kindle above, for example.

Even though the industry hasn’t settled on a single, common connection, the majority of cables fortunately terminate with a standard USB connector for charging and/or syncing purposes. Making the nearly flush Belkin USB auto charger below a handy universal adapter. I picked up a pair last fall for our vehicles, and they’ve served us (and our gadgets) well. The ultimate home solution is probably a small, powered USB hub and some short cables from Monoprice. Unless, there’s an attractive charging station that already meets this need. Bueller?

hp-tivo-expander

Earlier this month when Netgear announced new ReadyNAS products ($900 – $1350) that incorporate TiVo functionality, I reached out to the companies for more info. And, without having seen the feature in action, it sounds pretty much like what we’d expect… Sort of a TiVo Desktop port allowing you to offload shows to the NAS for storage and to later retrieve them from a network folder found within the TiVo UI.

Netgear also informed me they’re the first TiVo-compatible DVR network storage solution to alleviate local capacity concerns, so I asked TiVo about HP’s earlier TiVo MediaSmart implementation (recently updated, thanks Alex). Apparently, HP’s solution ($550 – $700) is also legit but the company didn’t go through the evaluation process that would allow them to be labeled “TiVo Compatible.” Whatev?

Both Netgear and HP solutions are nice additions if you happen to be in the market for a NAS, but I’m not sure TiVo integration is compelling enough to sell the device on its own. Then again, as a digital cable subscriber treated like a content thief by Cox Communications, I can’t offload anything but recordings of local network programming (and one premium they missed). Making me a less than ideal candidate.

Here at ZNF, we’re very selective in the product samples we choose to receive. Yet, every now and then, gadgets just magically appear – with no indication who sent an item… or how to return it.

As is the case with the Yamaha PSG-01S SoundGadget ($220) pictured above. I’m sure it’s a fine USB-powered PC Skype speakerphone (4 mics, 2 speakers), but it’s not something I’d use. And frankly, reviewing a speakerphone doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun… even though the Sound Gadget does double duty as a computer stereo speaker array.

But, as a public service, here are some related links should you want to learn more:

With that out of the way, if you like what you see, entering the Yamaha PSG-01S SoundGadget giveaway is as easy as it gets, simply leave a comment. (US residents in the lower 48 only, please.) We’ll choose the winner at random in a few days.

Click to enlarge:

Prettying Up the iPad

Mari Silbey —  July 9, 2010

As some fabulous soul on Twitter pointed out, this may very well be the best iPad decal ever. (Discovered and blogged over at The Next Web) But if your tastes don’t trend toward children’s literature, you might swing by Skinit for a look at other options. I didn’t have the best luck with Skinit for my Asus netbook, but I grant that part of my experience had to do with not applying the decal in the right direction the first time. (Odd design to fit an oddly curved computer) Dave had better luck, and Skinit’s got some nice graphics tricked out specifically for the latest Apple machine.

Polaroid-PoGo-printer-6

My cell phone photos live in limbo. I like to take them, and occasionally show them off, but I rarely manage to transfer them anywhere for permanent keeping. So when I saw a tweet recommendation from Brad Linder for a refurb Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer on sale for $25, I gave in to impulse and ordered one on the spot. (Thanks, Brad)

The PoGo printer performs as advertised. It’s got an AC power adapter for charging, and connects to your mobile phone via Bluetooth or USB. After years of owning phones with the Bluetooth disabled, I still tend to forget about the short-range wireless option. But my Droid Eris paired with the PoGo over Bluetooth immediately, and after less than a minute of processing, I saw my first cell phone photo on a 2″x3″ printout.

The Pogo prints are decent quality, and the no-edge format distinctly reminds me of a Moo card. That said, the colors did seem to fade a bit after the first printing, and you certainly wouldn’t use a PoGo printer to win any photography prizes. For casual or craft use, though, the PoGo is great. Want to include a photo with a thank-you card? Or make a family-tree pictorial for a school project? The PoGo printer is a handy solution.

As with any photo printer, the big catch in the deal is the cost of the photo paper. Luckily, the no-ink Zink paper that goes with the PoGo Printer isn’t overly expensive. The cost for a 30-pack of 2″x3″ paper seems to range from just under $9 to $12. The Pogo Printer itself ships at regular price for $39 from Amazon.

TiVo kindly overnighted the new Wireless N Network Adapter ($90) for a ZNF unboxing and giveaway.

Unlike their 802.11g USB TiVo adapter, this is more of a “network bridge” in a pretty sleek package. Other than the serious cable clutter, which won’t fly in my household. As a wireless bridge, the adapter connects to a TiVo (Premiere, Series3, TiVoHD, S2 DT) via Ethernet rather than USB — and needs to be configured beyond the DVR. WPS-enabled wireless routers should provide two click configuration with the adapter in client mode. However, I got this unit going in bridge mode simply by connecting it to my laptop via Ethernet and browsing to 192.168.10.1, where I provided my network details. As I utilize a hidden SSID, of limited security benefit, I jumped out of the wizard and into the manual configuration area. However, setup is quite straightforward and presented much more clearly than my ASUS bridge. (Find TiVo’s adapter manual here.) Those with more than one device to wire and some network savvy may prefer buying or building an access point for the same money. Although you won’t be treated to the TiVo branding seen on the Wireless N Network adapter, splitter cable, and power adapter.

Entering the TiVo Wireless N Network Adapter giveaway is as easy as it gets, simply leave a comment below. (US residents in the lower 48 only, please.) I’ll choose one winner at random in a few days.

Click to enlarge:

While it’s not exactly the first TiVo Premiere accessory on the market (that’d be the USB modem or any keyboard), TiVo’s 802.11n wireless adapter is now shipping. Order it online today from TiVo.com and Amazon for $90, or pick it up in person from Best Buy later this week. It should maximize, or at least enhance, the Premiere’s speed boost for those who aren’t hardwired, although $90 isn’t an amazing deal. But it does come in less than the possibly overpriced Xbox 360 802.11n adapter (MSRP $100) that Microsoft offers gamers.

The prototype I saw in Vegas at CES looked like a jumbo version of the orignal TiVo wireless adapter ($45-$60), which isn’t going anywhere. However, instead of a single USB cable that channels both data and power, the Wireless N adapter utilizes a Y-shaped cable, which forks into a Ethernet run and a power adapter. So, it’s not quite as clean a solution for the clutter-obsessed. Given the adapter’s physical network connectivity, it will work fine with prior TiVo units (and probably non-TiVo gear). Although Series3 and TiVo HD owners are never going to see the sorts of transfer speeds that the Premiere offers.

As for me, I have a secondary wireless router (802.11n, AEBS) in the entertainment center which extends my network while providing three Ethernet jacks — one of which the Premiere currently utilizes. The bedroom TiVo (S3) rotates between an original TiVo wireless adapter and a USB-powered ASUS 802.11g wireless bridge, providing significantly faster speeds due to it’s Ethernet connection and related to TiVo’s architecture.