Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1 Review

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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Logitech Harmony 890 Reviewed

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 … Read more

Sony Preps Wireless AV System

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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Hands On With The Sony Walkman Phone

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!

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 … Read more

Lucent’s DVR Sleep Detector

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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Slingbox Gets HomePlug Network Adapter

Sling 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 … Read more