Archives For Gadgets

giinii-movit-mini-max-pixplus-wi-fi-frame-c-u-c-me-camera

GiiNii was perhaps the biggest surprise out of CES in January. The company seemed to appear out of nowhere with a brilliant line-up of CE devices including C-U-C-Me cameras, PixPlus Wi-Fi photo frames, and a touch-screen, Android-based handheld called the Movit Mini (think iPod Touch with an Android OS). Of course it’s one thing to put on a good show at CES, and quite another to bring good products to market, so I went digging for a few more details… and landed an interview with GiiNii VP Dennis Sones.

The most exciting gadget news I learned during the conversation is that GiiNii’s 7-inch touch-screen tablet, the Movit Max (due out in Q4), will be priced “about the same as other brands’ Wi-Fi picture frames.” In other words, for this year’s holiday season we could be looking at a sub-$300 tablet display. Other companies are focused on introducing their own “kitchen computers,” but the $600 price tag is simply too high for a secondary device. On the other hand, the 7-inch GiiNii MoveIt Max could well be within reach if it truly hits the lower price point. And that brings me to GiiNii’s overall strategy for CE products. In brief: emulate Vizio. Continue Reading…

drobo-firmware

This is the first time in my 25+ years in computing that a hardware manufacturer has informed me that it wants to charge me for a firmware upgrade. I innocently checked my Drobo for firmware updates yesterday and was startled to receive the message above.

It was bad enough that my DroboShare experience was a disaster. Despite promised upgrades, Data Robotics support folks could never get it to work properly with my Vista 64 or my XP systems on my home network – others had the same problem.  They just gave up. To this day, my DroboShare sits unused on a shelf in my closet – $300+ wasted. In-depth forum posts that I wrote about this topic on the DroboSpace forum are now hidden behind user account walls – viewable only by Drobo owners. Serial numbers are now needed to access their forum. This wasn’t the case last year.

To have to pay for firmware upgrades, which primarily amount to nothing more than bug fixes over time, for Drobo hardware is ridiculous. I gather that if they ever do fix the DroboShare problems which made the product unusable from the beginning, I’ll have to pay an upgrade fee. Give me a break!

I still love my Drobo, but I’m beginning to resent Data Robotics.

Dale Dietrich is a Toronto-based technology, video game, and interactive media attorney. Read more at The Daleisphere.

Dumping Gear the Green Way

Dave Zatz —  February 25, 2009

best-buy-recycles

If you collect as many gadgets as I do, it’s inevitable a percentage will outlive their usefulness. In the past, I’ve purchased Office Depot’s tech recycling boxes ($5) to unload that broken and limited-value gear. In fact, I’ve got an overflowing box ready go. Which is why LifeHacker’s recent coverage of Best Buy’s expanded recycling program is nicely timed. Instead of purchasing another OD box, I’ll be taking an obsolete ink jet printer to Best Buy. A word of warning – they don’t accept hard drives and devices with displays (laptops, TVs, monitors) incur a $10 fee. Although, that’s returned to you in the form of a gift card.

verizon-fiostv-mobile

I’ve seen several demos of pre-release Verizon FiOS TV remote DVR scheduling via dedicated mobile applications. But tonight an anonymous Lakers fan tipped me off to a live, handset-agnostic mobile web portal… that will support a variety of Verizon home services.

Despite the “beta” designation, Kobe our tipster was able to successfully log into FiOS TV Central on m.verizon.com, browse or search for shows, and schedule recordings with real-time confirmation. He was also able to flag VOD titles for later viewing.

My initial impression of the Verizon Hub wasn’t entirely positive (I’d rather have a touchscreen Eee Top in my kitchen), but it’s promising to see that remote, cellphone access is on the roadmap. Pulling home voicemail while mobile would come in handy, although I’m not sure how much value call logs will provide on the go. (Related, Boy Genius reports the Hub will see an update that brings “streaming radio” later this month.)

Click to enlarge:

The Week in Media Extenders

Dave Zatz —  February 10, 2009

With improving sales and increased consumer awareness of network-sourced content, perhaps AppleTV will graduate from “hobby” status later this year. At the very least, Apple’s showing a bit of life around this initiative by distributing a customer survey. AppleInsider breaks down the questionnaire, which covers media type/origination, display devices, and audio output. I hope Apple’s also doing market research amongst tech savvy folks who haven’t made purchases to help guide them.

In other media extender news, both the SlingCatcher and Vudu have seen recent price drops. While incremental reductions are fairly typical, with the exception of Apple products, more dramatic moves often indicate sluggish sales. At launch, the Catcher retailed for $300 but now clocks in at $200. With firmware updates are on the way, Amazon’s $166 may be even more compelling.

Although Vudu is primarily a video-on-demand box, rather than what we’d typically classify as an extender, they have also “permantly” slashed prices. Originally listed at $299, Vudu now runs $149… plus the cost of movies. However, free access to YouTube, Flickr, and other Internet media is currently available as a public beta. As I’ve said before, I quite enjoy the Vudu experience. So, I hope they’re able to find success at this new price point, by licensing their tech, and/or receiving a funding lifeline.

The Amazon Kindle 2

Dave Zatz —  February 9, 2009

After months of leaks, speculation, and zero inventory, Amazon’s second generation e-reader has arrived. The Kindle 2 ($359) is slimmer and sleeker than its predecessor and has implemented a mini five-way joystick for navigation. The refreshed screen now displays 16 shades of grey and supposedly turns pages 20% quicker – which hopefully improves upon the somewhat distracting redraw/blinking e-ink situation seen on v1. (Ars digs the new display, CrunchGear does not.)

Much of the negative commentary I’ve heard or read today (still) centers on Kindle pricing – which many feel may be too expensive. However, keep in mind the initial hardware cost includes access to reasonably priced New York Times best sellers ($10/pop) and a lifetime of Sprint wireless data services (aka Amazon Whispernet). Having said that, TechRepublic figures you’d need to purchase over 50 books to come out ahead. (Not that these sorts of tech acquisition decisions are based largely on value.)

Personally, I’m not interested in owning Kindle hardware – I don’t read enough books. Plus I’d prefer to limit the number of single function devices I need to charge and carry. Which is why I’m more excited by Amazon working to “make Kindle books available on a range of mobile phones.”

Tech On TV: Ghost Whisperer

Dave Zatz —  February 9, 2009

Once again, I’m swiping inspired by Engadget’s Screen Grabs series to cover an interesting mix of tech on TV. I’ve never seen Ghost Whisperer and don’t know what it’s about beyond the title. However, I was on a call with the television playing in the background when the relatively ancient XM SkyFi and boombox (upper left) caught my eye. Also, I was surprised to see a MacBook Pro in this scene… with a sticker hiding Apple’s iconic logo. On the other end of Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s flip phone conversation appears to be a Palm Treo 750 (Windows Mobile) – which was my primary handset for about 6 months in 2007.