Coffee Break – Mari & Dave Geek Out

Mari’s in town visiting family, so we met up at the Starbucks to share our newer gadgets. Here’s some of the gear we had on hand:

Flip Ultra Video Camera – I believe this was a holiday gift to Mari and what we used to spontaneously film our table. It shoots an hour of 640×480 video for $150 and includes USB plug – no cables required. Interestingly, the Flip has onboard video editing software (which we obviously didn’t use) that runs on a host computer (Mac or PC). I can see many folks making the quality compromise in exchange for the ease-of-use and convenience of this device. Seems like a perfect gift for kids, too.

Navigon 2100 – This GPS unit was a Black Friday gift to myself. MSRP for the unit is $249 and traffic service runs another $99… Thanks to Staples, I picked it up for just $99 total. Both the exterior and the UI are visually appealing, though interface efficiency and number of POIs doesn’t compare to the Tom Tom One or Garmin Nuvi units. But I’ve got text-to-speech. And traffic!

Monster iFreePlay – Another one of Mari’s gifts. The iFreePlay is a stereo headset that an iPod Shuffle clips right into, losing the wires. I’m a fan of smart designs like this (it also folds up compactly), though I can’t say I’m a fan on MP3 players without displays.

Vudu remote – I brought along the Vudu remote for Mari to check out. I’m still digging the contours and scroll wheel for menu navigation. However, rewind and fast forward functionality could be implemented much better. I’d also appreciate IR (rather than RF) and buttons to map for television volume. Actually, the wheel would make a nice volume control.

Zoom H2 Handy Recorder – Mari needed a podcasting tool, and Brad Linder had a suggestion. She hasn’t opened this gift from her husband yet, but I assume we’ll literally be hearing from her in the near future.

Phones – I had three phones in my backpack, plus one in my pocket. Comes with the job! On the table were the Motorola Q 9m and Nokia N95. Mari helped me acquire this Windows Mobile Moto handset, but she’d never actually seen it. The Q 9 variants have some of the best mobile keyboards. The Nokia N95 offers just about every feature (other than a keyboard) and is surprisingly light for its size. Nokia released a firmware update about two weeks ago which I haven’t gotten around to installing yet…

Not on display: I exchanged my Verizon EVDO ExpressCard for a Sprint EVDO USB stick to work with both computers I carry. The stick also has a built-in GPS which is pretty wild, though only accessible via Windows OS. I also picked up the Blue Ant Z9 Bluetooth headset last week in NYC at J&R. Given the hype, I’m somewhat disappointed with its performance. My old, bulky Plantronics Voyager 510 still sounds better than any other headset I’ve used. Also not on display is Mari’s new laptop bag. I think it was a Samsonite, which looked stylish, professional (compared to my backpack), and roomy.

Special thanks to jkOnTheRun, who I pilfered the post title from.

8 thoughts on “Coffee Break – Mari & Dave Geek Out”

  1. By the way, the Flip did a decent job handling the ambient noise – the music was loud in the Starbucks and the steamer was even louder. The mic is on the front near the lens, so Mari’s narration from behind the camera isn’t very loud.

  2. The quality is actually higher, but YouTube transcoded the AVI and lost something (other than lower resolution) in the process. Though I don’t think the reflections and close-ups were at all helpful to the auto-focus.

    Here’s the original 38MB file if you’d like to see it. Not sure if a special codec is needed… the Flip installed one on my Mac.

    I think most geeky folks would either want a dedicated video cam or would use the integrated video feature on a digital still camera (as I do), but there’s something very appealing about this device because it’s so simple.

  3. According to the specs on the Flip, it uses a fixed-focus lens with a focal range of 0.8m to infinity, so anything closer than 0.8m (2.6 ft) isn’t going to be in focus. That’s probably why the close-up shots of the products were a little blurry.

    Based on your video and that on their website, the quality is surprisingly good. The biggest thing I’d miss is an optical zoom I think, but I’m sure it’s more than worth giving that up for the portability and convenience.

  4. My wife uses the iFreePlay with the shuffle I bought her last Christmas, and she loves it. I’ve even used it a couple of times when out mowing the lawn or trimming tress… the sort of stuff you do not want an obnoxious cord getting in your way.

    I agree to a point about the lack of a display, but, really, the point to the shuffle is that you already have a player with a display (even if it’s just your computer) and you know your library well enough to slap 1GB of tunes onto the player that you know you will like.

    I know I don’t want to be fiddling with cords or tune selection when I’m walking both our beagle and pit bull for 45-60 minutes, so the shuffle fits that situation perfectly. But it depends on how your music fits into your life in my opinion.

  5. The Q has a very good keyboard, and a nice display, but at this point my opinion is that any Windows Mobile based device is just too flakey and limited to be worth the trouble. It sometimes syncs with my car. It sometimes turns itself off for no reason. It eats batteries like no tomorrow (easily run through the extended battery overnight, even with mail sync turned off), etc etc. Not worth your trouble.

  6. The Flip is ridiculously convenient and will be in my carry-around bag at CES. I think the worst of the blur and the glare can be avoided with a little better videography. I was just fooling around and Dave decided to post it. :) Also, we hooked it up to a TV for video playback and I was shocked at the quality. It’s decent on a laptop display, but I wasn’t expecting much on a TV screen. It was at least as good as any of the old VHS home movies I used to record. Probably better.

    The iFreePlay headphones – perfect for running.

  7. Yep, I did twist Mari’s arm to let me post the video.

    Mari, tell me the make and model of your new bag. Or where to buy. I know a few women who might appreciate it.

    Glenn, which Q do you have? Generally speaking, I’ve been pretty satisfied with WM6, though slim phones like my (decommissioned) Blackjack and Q 9m do have pretty poor battery life. My Treo 750 is better, but it’s also bulkier.

    The Q9 did screw me up on a recent trip to Canada. I also had a TMobile Wing and my GPS with me, so I brought along just one USB charger. Turns out Motorola won’t let you use a non-Moto adapter…

    I’ve been using the 750 (AT&T) as my main phone the last few months – I like the touch screen and the keyboard is decent. I also appreciate the threaded text messages. The Q 9m (Verizon) is a work phone which replaced a Treo 700w. I currently also have a decommissioned Blackjack, decommissioned TMobile Dash, TMobile Wing, and that Nokia N95. I turned in my Treo 700p and have been trying to replace it with the cute but very usable Centro. I also have a phone arriving today that I can’t mention… ;)

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