News: Samsung HMX-E10 Pocket Camcorder is All About Self-recording
Wednesday 28th July, 2010

In contrast to Flip Slide HD, Samsung already has a pretty impressive portfolio of Flip-type pocket camcorders with the introduction of HMX-U20 and HMX-U15 during early
this year. It now adds another member, HMX-E10, to the mix. The E10 is
all about self-recording in that the most prominent feature is the
swiveling spherical lens. You can easily turn the lens around to do
self-recording. Samsung obviously takes a page from Sony Bloggie HD.

The Samsung HMX-E10 aside from its 270-degree rotating lens offers a 2.7" 230k-pixel touch-screen, relatively large for the camcorder size. The
LCD is spilt into an electronic live view and touch controls which
include record stop and play. The 1080p camcorder itself is however a
downgrade, from the U20's 3x optical zoom to 2x digital. It also
records to microSD and outputs via HDMI, unlike SD/SDHC and component
video output found on U20. The Flip-arm USB arm handles as usual the
battery charging and video sync. Interestingly, the U20 and E10 are set
at the same MSRP ($199) so you could say the trade-off is in the lens.

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In USB Flash Drives
News: A-Data Gives eSATA+USB Flash Drive Another Shot
Wednesday 28th July, 2010

eSATA is trying to take another bite out of USB 3.0. This time, Taiwanese A-data comes up with the Nobility N909 hybrid flash drive that plugs
into either USB 2.0 or eSATA+USB. (This follows the USB 3.0 version
announced just last month.) The company is banking on an increasing
number of powerhouse notebooks with eSATA+USB combo port. In fact, you
can actually find more laptops with the said dual-interface port than
ones with USB 3.0.

The beauty of the A-data Nobility N909 is that it can draw power from USB 2.0 while transferring at uber-fast eSATA speed (90MB/s read, 50GB write). And this can be done without an
extra USB connection for power. The N909 is actually a
second-generation of its kind. Others have tried the hybrid design,
but their products suffered from usability issue since they have to
draw power from a USB auxiliary cable. The A-data traditionally doesn't
make pricing available so we have no way of knowing the the N909 falls
into the affordability category.

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In USB Technologies
News: AMD Hudson Chipset to Get USB 3.0?
Wednesday 28th July, 2010

As Intel evidently won't be offering USB 3.0 as chipset integrated feature until 2012, AMD is taking the opportunity to slap its nemesis in the
face by integrating USB 3.0
into its upcoming mobile PC platform. The said platform is code-named
Hudson D1 which serves as the southbridge chip for Ontario and Llano
APUs - AMD's CPU/GPU fusion. It is slated to ship in Q4 2010, and will
primarily target at thin-notebooks and notebooks.

Rumor has it that AMD is in talks with NEC to license its proven USB 3.0 chipset in order to save R&D money into developing its own solution. NEC seems like an ideal partner as the fab manufacturer has the capacity to
ramp up production as soon as orders are received. The talk comes at a
time when Intel at last released xHCI spec 1.0 which finalizes the
details of the register-level interface for host controller driver in
software. The move by AMD will undoubtedly drive the cost per unit even
lower to perhaps under $2, and will likely create an incentive for more
first-tier manufacturers to adopt SuperSpeed USB.

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In USB Mice & Trackballs
Review: Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 7 Gaming Mouse
Sunday 25th July, 2010

It's a fact of life that no two persons hands are exactly the same; hell the variance between people can be down right HUGE. For this reason,
manufacturers of peripheral components like the ubiquitous mouse, have
to design for the mythical "average" person. This is great if you have
an average hand, but its no fun if you don't. Mad Catz plans to change
all that with their Cyborg R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse,
as this marvel of engineering is ADJUSTABLE allowing for what in theory
is the perfect custom fit. Is that what the R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse
delivers? Check out my full review to find out.

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In Gaming Headsets & USB Speakers
News: ASUS CineVibe Gaming Headset Lets Rumble Feedback Go to your Head
Sunday 25th July, 2010

Asus today enters the gaming headset market with the CineVibe Rumble Feedback USB headset. Always innovating, Asus has added a rumble effect to this gaming headset. This is a more private version of the Buttkicker home theater device or the rumble effects found on many console game controllers. The USB headset is driver-less of course and works on
either PC or Apple computers. The rumble vibrations are tuned to low
frequency sounds and not with game related events so this technically
isn't a force feedback system, but its potential for sound enhancement
is exciting.

Vortez didn't find the effect that exhilarating. He notes the addition of the low frequency transformation into vibration altered the somewhat
average sound of the headset. While the novelty of the sensation would
certainly distract from less than stellar sound, most serious gamers
will opt for the higher quality circumaural experience found with larger ear cups like the Logitech G35 or those focusing on surround audio like the Razer Megalodon.
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time gaming (enough to
desire rumble headphones) will know that headphones that press on the
ear can't be tolerated for long sessions. We'll hope Asus tries again
with this concept but with a larger version with some configurable
drivers and game support. The headset is available now in online stores
for roughly $80, but it seems version 2.0 might be worth the wait.
Check out the video demo after the jump.

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In USB Webcams , Camcorders & Digital Cameras
News: Samsung DualView ST600 Compact Camera - More Double Screen Goodness
Sunday 25th July, 2010

Premier electronics titan, Samsung, has apparently never heard the phrase "Too much of a good thing." and we are so glad they haven't. The addition of
a 2nd screen to the front of their compact line of digital cameras has
become an instant classic, see the ST500 / TL225.
This new model, the ST600, increases the size of the front facing LCD
screen by 20% as well as adding more arm's-length support functions as
well. Facial recognition, smile detection and self-portrait modes enter
the lineup. Perhaps a little cheesy for the pro-sumer photographer, a
large number of digital camera users love these features. Even grown
ups will have occasion to want to get themselves into the picture during
that chance encounter with Brad Pitt at the mall.

The myriad of other features adorning the ST600 make the extra view-screen a handy add-on, like the "fireworks mode" that we've seen on more than a
few cameras. The resolution has also been increased to 14.2 mega-pixels
and all the other key features are there that you'd expect from any
high-end subcompact. They also maintain the same gesture controlled
touchscreen interface for review and composing pictures. Gestures make
easy work of starting a slide-show of captured shots or playing back the
720p video. The ST600 should be available for $329 in September.

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In Mobile Accessories
News: Concept Kinetic USB Charger for Skaters & Joggers
Friday 23rd July, 2010

This Argentine industrial designer probably hasn't heard of nPower as he has invented something that is already on the market. This concept charger is targeted at the people leading an active lifestyle,
namely skaters and joggers. The nPower and the yet unnamed kinetic
charger both rely on a nano-generator to produce electric current by
harnessing the energy of motion. The built-in battery is then recharged
until it's full.

This particular green charger can be strapped to your shoe, or attached to a knee pad, arm strap and helmet so you can technically have multiple
batteries recharging at the same time. The nPower with its stick form
factor probably works best if placed in a backpack or briefcase. For
hikers and bikers, the nPower is the better choice; on the other hand,
this concept charger with its interchangeable straps makes it ideal for
extreme sports (given the finished product has plenty of physical
protection for the unit).

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In USB Flash Drives
News: Lexar 128GB Echo SE Easily Backs up your Entire Netbook
Friday 23rd July, 2010

Lexar Echo SE was first announced along with the Echo ZE nano-sized USB "naildrive" back in January. Now Lexar comes up with 128GB version that is reportedly 15% shorter than other similar offerings. Lexar touts the mega-sized Echo SE 128GB as a secure backup solution for notebooks and notebooks alike. The backup is handled primarily by
onboard Dmailer that includes targeted file backup so the software does
continuous incremental backup to reduce wasted space and at the same
time allows retrieval of previous file versions.

The files are safeguarded by 128-bit AES software encryption. Unique to the Lexar is the cross-platform compatibility. You will be able to
restore or back up files on either a PC or Mac. Lexar Echo SE however
won't break any speed record, with read speed topping at 28MB/s and read
at 10MB/s. At $499.99, the price point isn't very attractive at all.
For this kind of price, you could get a 256GB USB 3.0 SSD for $50 more.

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In USB Webcams , Camcorders & Digital Cameras
News: Panasonic Lumix LX5, the Latest Ultimate Compact Point-and-Shoot
Friday 23rd July, 2010

Panasonic today brings a much anticipated upgrade to the two-year old DMC-LX3. The new Lumix LX5 shares the retro chassis; the same raw-shooting
capabilities; manual controls; and 24mm wide-angle Leica lens as the
LX3. While the LX5's 1/1.63" CCD sensor is the same size as that found
on said predecessor, its low-light performance now has been optimized;
which in other words, there should be less noise when shooting at high
ISO levels. Its 3.8x optical zoom range also has been upped from 24 to

Lumix LX5's brand new Venus Engine FHD CPU, according to Panasonic, improves image processing from dynamic range to color saturation and chromatic
noise reduction. Another notable addition is the AVCHD Lite movie
recording at 720p. If you can afford the largest card available, you
can go for the highest bit-rate of 17Mbps (Other options include 13Mbps
and 9Mbps.) Panasonic guarantees no-hassle playback via SD on recently
announced VIERA HDTVs. The Lumix LX5 offers SDXC as well to offer
capacity up to 2TB; though, we don't have anything larger than 64GB as
of this writing. Expect the LX5 to hit retail anytime in August.

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In Gaming Headsets & USB Speakers
News: Creative Creates Wireless USB Speaker with Rock
Wednesday 21st July, 2010

Creative is expanding its Sound Blaster Wireless ecosystem with this single-piece speaker made of granite-rock. The aptly-named Wireless Rock Speaker
can reportedly withstand moderate weather conditions so it's safe to
assume that they are waterproof. We are a little surprised that
Creative comes up with these as the company traditionally hasn't made
anything suitable for outdoor use for extended period of time. The
speaker itself is powered by a removable Li-ion battery which lasts up
to 6 hours of continuous playback and which can be recharged on a

For those of you wondering, the Rock Speaker isn't Bluetooth. Instead, they rely on in-house proprietary 2.4Ghz wireless technology to transmit
lossless audio up to 30m from any PC or Mac through a special USB
dongle. The 6.3kg speaker has two tweeters and outputs at 20W per
channel. The outdoor speaker set now appears on Amazon for pre-order at
$199.99. Though, to start streaming tunes to this "rock", you'll also
need Sound Blaster Wireless transmitter which goes for $99 MSRP.

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In DVD & CD Writers
News: Plextor's USB-powered Blu-ray Drive Goes for as Little as $100
Wednesday 21st July, 2010

Netbooks always come without an optical drive let alone Blu-ray whether or not it has the horsepower to decode HD video. For these users who miss the
HD bandwagon, Plextor today provides a clear upgrade path to high-def
world with its $99 PX-B120U
USB 2.0 bus-powered BD-ROM drive. Keep in mind the ROM here means
you'll be able to playback your HD flicks on the tiny small screen, but
not burn any Blu-ray discs. Burning CDs and DVDs of different variety
is possible at 24x and 8x respectively.

Those who wish like to rip Blu-ray with MakeMKV might like to know the Plextor PX-B120U reads BD media at 4x. Movie playback requires a
minimum of 2x (72Mbit/s), but faster is always better. Though, we
believe USB 2.0 can push read speed to 6x. (Buffalo has a USB 3.0 model
that reads three times faster for those don't mind tethered to a AC
outlet.) Being bus-powered also removes the hassle of carrying a bulky
AC adapter. Plextor also throws in a copy of Cyberlink which now gains
upscaling as well as 3D playback. Last but not least is the USB 2.0
Blu-ray drive ability to dock with Plextor's upcoming PlexMedia to double as a BD player for the living room's HDTV.

Permanent Link

In USB Mice & Trackballs
News: LiveScribe is Back with Echo Smartpen
Wednesday 21st July, 2010

LiveScribe Pulse smartpen has been around for nearly two years, yet it falls in the niche market and is now somewhat overshadowed by the recent unstoppable rush of
tablets. But it's very apt for what it does. The smartpen is an
indispensable tool for organizing your notes; it not only stores
handwriting for conversion to text on a PC, but also allows you to hear
what was being said at the moment of writing by tapping on the note.
Now LiveScribe comes up with Echo to replace the Pulse which has already sold over 400,000 to date.

The Echo smarten improves on the previous generation with a sleeker profile and a rubberized grip so it won't roll around. Other notable additions
include a micro-USB for sync'ing and recharging without a cradle; and a
standard 3.5mm audio jack (the Pulse has a 2.5mm). The Echo now has a
8GB version ($199.95) with enough room for 800 hours of audio recording.
The 4GB goes for $169.95. LiveScribe has opened its own apps store in
late 2009, reselling a number of programs ranging from Spanish-English
dictionary to games that can be downloaded to the smartpens.

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In USB Hubs & Peripheral Sharing
Review: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Net USB NAS
Tuesday 20th July, 2010

For many people, the idea of a small portable device which can plug into their network and then with a simple cable swap plug directly into their
computer sounds like a match made in heaven. This is the niche Seagate
hopes to capitalize on with their GoFlex Net as it adds yet another option to the already amazingly customizable Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex portable drive line! Now read on for the full review.

Permanent Link

In USB Technologies
News: Renesas Outs Low-power USB 3.0 Host Controller for Notebooks
Monday 19th July, 2010

Renesas Electronics, as the single largest USB 3.0 host controller manufacturer, is beginning to face fierce competition from ASMedia to Texas Instrument and VIA. A price war has broken out that continues to drive price down to $3 range. Despite of that, the massive increase in demand for USB
3.0 chips will make up for the loss in profit per unit. There are as of
this writing no less than five USB 3.0 host silicons to choose from,
yet there's none that is notebook-friendly until now.

Renesas' just announced µPD720200A offers 85% less power consumption compared to the industry's first USB 3.0 host controller. The chip, rated at 50mW standby mode, is pin-compatible with its power-hungry sibling, making it possible for
existing partners to upgrade to the latest model. However, the only
major notebook / netbook maker backing USB 3.0
is Asus whose subsidiary ASMedia is supplying the parent company all
the USB 3.0 chips it needs. Renesas may have to go after HP, Dell,
Lenovo and others which are likely shipping new portables with the 5Gbps
interface for back-to-school season.

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In USB Mice & Trackballs
News: Tiny Super Efficient Swiftpoint Touted as the Future Mouse
Sunday 18th July, 2010

The Swiftpoint Mouse puts a novel tilt on the laptop mouse concept with its new and ridiculously small portable mouse. It's is tiny, about the size of a
golf ball and has grooves for 3 fingers. The mouse is wireless and
extremely energy efficient and is able to run for 4 weeks off of a full
charge. The Swiftpoint mouse comes with an almost nano sized wireless dongle that also doubles as a charging base for the tiny mouse. A 30 second charge will charge the mouse for a full hour of use.

Tilting the mouse is how you get it to scroll, no clumsy scroll wheels. The SwiftPoint is actually small enough to remain in your hand while you are
typing. If you are late comer to the laptop sensation, this might help
ease you past the troubles learning to use a multi/touchpad. Those not
living under a rock will enjoy having the RSI reducing alternative to
vary your input motions a bit. We're looking forward to comparing them
to the amazing Anywhere MX
mouse from Logitech. If it comes close to what it promises, it will be
well worth the $70 price tag. Video demo after the jump.

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In USB Flash Drives
News: LaCie XtremeKey is Apocalypse-proof (Video Proof Inside)
Sunday 18th July, 2010

Since narrowly avoiding destruction due to the Y2K end-times, we must now set our sights on the coming robot uprising. As predicted by Nostradamus,
Skylink will achieve self-awareness in approximately 2 years and launch a
full scale assault on mankind. LaCie has released the XtremeKey flash drive
that will be John Conner approved as soon as he takes command of the
rebellion. This drive bests the current tough champion, the Corsair Flash Survivor,
by being able to withstand being run over by a 10 ton truck. As well
as being hardened enough to withstand water pressure at a depth of up to
300 feet. Not even the pretty girl Terminators are able to scratch the
special alloy, zamac, that LaCie uses. Screwing the flash drive into
the special zamac cylinder seals and protects it from the above dangers
as well as extreme heat and cold.

The silicon portion of the indestructible drive comes in capacities from 8GB to 64GB. The purported read/write speeds are the very top of the
USB 2.0 food chain on par with the Voyager GTR. To get any faster you'll need to switch up to USB 3.0 and the likes
of Super Talent. Only thing to remember is exactly how much of a pain
it will be to screw/unscrew the drive into the protective shell. The
8GB model will retail for only $50 which is pretty hot for the speed
advertised even more so for the included LaCie flair. The units should arrive in August at their online store. Video demo of the drive's durability after the jump.

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In External Hard Drives
Review: SIIG USB 3.0 Hard Drive Dock with Fan
Thursday 15th July, 2010

Not everyone who wants the portability of external storage wants the hassle of installing their drive into a enclosure. The goes double for anyone
who has multiple drives yet doesn't want multiple enclosures! For this
particular niche, a hard drive dock is a Godsend especially when you
add in USB 3.0 speeds; or at least this is what SIIG hopes to offer its customers with their all new USB 3.0 hard drive dock with fan! Check out my review after the jump.

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In USB Laptop Coolers
News: Macally TuneFan - Another Laptop-friendly USB Speakerdesk
Monday 12th July, 2010

The perfectly packed computer bag is a bit of a Unicorn for many of us computer geeks. We take great pride in assembling the most compact and
most useful devices. Lightweight and multifunction are the rules we
live by and slim tablets and laptops now pack enough battery life and
power to become real traveler's tools. The Macally Tunefan might fit in that same category as it is slim and provides for several needs as a laptop cooling station with a pair of stereo speakers.

First off, it is a platform to slightly angle your PC and make it more comfortable to view. Not a big deal for laptop devices but tablet
devices without integral kickstands are always awkward when they are out
of hand. The Macally TuneFan also keeps your device cool for extended
use with a large cooling fan. The 2.1 sound system in such a small
package is a true gem. Many USB speaker
systems are very odd shapes and can be troublesome to pack or pose.
The USB sound system also has a line-in jack for use with MP3 players or
your iPhone while being powered by USB. The TuneFan has individual
power switches to control power independently for both fan and audio, a
nice touch that seems unique to this product. At $99, the Macally
TuneFan is on the pricey side for this niche, but it does give you your
money's worth from our vantage.

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In Smartphones
News: iPhone 4 Stuns No One by Charging Faster Off AC Outlet than USB
Monday 12th July, 2010

A concerned multi-iPhone owner has taken it upon himself to test the two primary means of charging the iPhone 4, AC outlet and USB port. The test wasn't executed very scientifically, calls came in as well as text messages, while the test was going on.
The results are however fairly interesting and by interesting we mean
obvious. The AC adapter, having a near constant and regulated high
current charge, beat out the 2008 laptop. The only real surprise is
exactly how wide the variance is, 30 minutes longer than the AC's 130
minutes. This is at least good to know if you are about to leave and
need to get as much juice as possible in a short period. The knowledge
of just how large the difference is, should help guide others to better

One thing to note, in the past few years, Apple has increased the power output to its USB ports. Most notably to iPad owners who cannot charge their iPads from anything except an AC outlet or a new Apple laptop/desktop. We'd be willing to guess that new Macs would
charge faster than the old ones. Hopefully someone takes on the
challenge and tests that theory.

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In External Hard Drives
Review: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex USB 3.0 Ultra Portable
Monday 12th July, 2010

It certainly would be great if as new faster standards came out you could simply upgrade your existing external drive, instead of being forced to
buy all new equipment. Seagate seems to agree, as their FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra Portable 500GB external drive
is designed from the ground up with upgradeability in mind via its
groundbreaking interchangeable GoFlex cable system. On paper, this
sounds like a wonderful idea but is the reality the same as the theory?
Check out our review.

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In USB Gadgets
News: UVMini Toothbrush Cleaner Because Cleanliness is Next to Geekiness
Monday 12th July, 2010

With the near constant, ridiculously minimal chance of catching horrible diseases always at our door, having a UV toothbrush sanitizer is just
common sense. H1N1 and SARS are destroying our way of life, soon there
will only be 98% of us left. Thankfully, UVmini
has a compact option for us to help try and push our extremely high
chances of survival even higher. It's their USB UV toothbrush sanitizer
and it's ready to come our rescue. About the size of a dental floss
container, the small package contains a powerful UV light capable of
killing just about every living thing that might be inhabiting your
smile brightener.

The UVmini comes in 2 models to help every degree of germ-a-phobe combat their psychosomatic illnesses. The 302 model is powered solely by USB
while the 502 models have an internal lithium battery that will manage
up to 10 UV disinfecting
cycles between USB charges. While not as convenient, the USB only
model is touted upon for keeping steady levels of power so that efficacy
isn't adversely affected by the drop off of charge as a battery is
depleted. Either model should do a great job, while connected to a
standard mini-USB phone charger. Those traveling abroad in countries
without resistances to local flora in the water might do well to pack
one of these to keep those very well known side effects from ruining
your vacations. We don't have any price information as of yet but they
should start hitting Pan-Asian vendors shortly. The rest of the world
will have to wait a bit longer.

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In USB Technologies
Review: Asus U3S6 SATA 6Gbps / USB 3.0 Card
Thursday 8th July, 2010

Not everyone can justify the cost and hassle associated with upgrading their motherboard to get USB 3.0; however many are ready and willing to invest the couple moments and few dollars it takes to plug in a frugally priced PCI-E USB 3.0 card and
upgrade their system. One such option for consumers is the Asus U3S6,
which boasts not only two USB 3.0 ports but also ups the ante with a
pair of SATA 6GB/s ports. Is its reasonable asking price and potential
power a combination worthy of your time? Let's find out!

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In USB Hubs & Peripheral Sharing
News: Tablet Traveler USB Laptop Stand Relieves Your Neck & Stylus Cramps
Thursday 8th July, 2010

Tablet and fellow Slate-waiters, here's a great peripheral for you to have ready when the Streak/Exo/Adam/Winpad finally ship. The slate form
factor is great for handheld use in between sitting computers.
Eventually, you need to sit down and type on a real keyboard. If you
are going to be relying on a tablet for any length of time you will want
a keyboard and stand like this. The Necky
laptop cooling station is fed by USB and returns a cooler, a keyboard
and a 2-port USB hub. In addition, it has a great stand aspect that
gets regular notebooks up to a strain-reducing eye-level and gets
tablets off the floor. The whole system folds up nicely into a package
on par with most of the coming slates but only almost no weight.

We currently pair our TC1100 and Everun (on an after market kickstand) with an MS Arc keyboard and that could definitely be improved upon. The Necky fits laptops from 10-14inches and has an adjustable viewing angle. This should
require no drivers and will work on but PC's and Apple computers. If
they built one with a Bluetooth keyboard this might make a really comfy
iPad accessory. Apple really should have stuck a USB port on the iPad
instead, or some port, any port, SRSLY. Rants notwithstanding, there's
definitely a road warrior or two that could get some real use out of one
of these. The price and release date aren't clear yet so check their
site if your favorite phantom tablet ever emerges from the vapor.

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In USB Gadgets
News: Brando USB Mailbox Alert Dongle is Totally Adorable
Thursday 8th July, 2010

If only this came out a few years back, when AOL was still relevant. One look at this and the "You've got Mail" wav comes screeching back into
our memories. Brando offers this red USB mailbox
that looks like your systray is trying to blink its way out of your
computer. It's a gumball sized USB device that's shaped like a classic
red mailbox. It can check for new emails and let you know when you've
got new mail by lighting up for you. You can also set it to change
colors based on which account you have new messages on. It will even
tell you how many messages you have with a color scale system. Much
better than loud clanging.
It's also small enough to be left plugged in on a traveling laptop
without much worry about it getting caught on something or needing a cord.

The software looks to be very easy to configure and will check email on dozens of the most popular web and server mail systems. You can assign
different colors to each mail box so you know exactly which accounts
have something new for you. Even FaceBook and other social networking
messaging systems are support. God forbid you stopping checking FB for
30 seconds. This would be great for kids and grandparents that aren't
already net-addicted. Pick it up now at Brando's online shop for $18.

Permanent Link

In USB Webcams , Camcorders & Digital Cameras
News: Cyber-shot WX5, TX9 Become Sony's First 3D Point-n-shoot Cameras
Thursday 8th July, 2010

These days, Sony is almost synonymous with 3D. Almost every major product line from PS3 to Bravia flat panels and Alpha NEX (with the most recent
patch) has received 3D upgrade one way or another. Cyber-shots surely
can't be far behind. Today, Cyber-shot WX5 and TX9 become the latest
additions to the consumer camera line with 3D-shooting capability. Not
only that, these Cyber-shots can capture 3D photos with just one lens,
unlike Fujifilm's last year attempt. WX5 and TX9 got around this
problem with its Sweep Panorama mode which stitches together a 3D
panoramic image when you pan the camera across a scene. 3D shots taken
with this rather proprietary method can only be displayed on a
compatible Sony Bravia HDTV. This isn't at all surprising to us.

Another hidden talent of the Cyber-shot WX5 and TX9 includes the ability to capture an image with a blurred background. This traditionally requires
some manual adjustment in aperture settings, but these Cyber-shots
automate the process. Also related to 3D is Sweep Multi Angle which
lets you take 3D images of the same object in 15fps at different angles.
This presumably allows you to rotate the image in 360 degrees on a
dedicated 3D viewer. The two cameras share the ability to record 1080i
AVCHD video at 17Mbps. The slimmer TX9 with 2.8" touchscreen will go to
retail for around $400 while the WX5 with a larger 3.5" touchscreen is
$100 less expensive.

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In USB Gadgets
News: PowerUSB Bar Helps Put Your USB Devices on an Electricity Diet
Wednesday 7th July, 2010

We need more green technology that saves us gr€€n. There's a smoldering move towards greener tech and we must all show our support by selecting
devices based at least in part on their power management. The PowerUSB Bar
empowers you to put your old devices on a diet by programming when to
shut off power to them. It looks like a standard 4 port power strip but
2 of the for outlets are programmable and there's a 6 ft USB cord
coming out of it. Attach printers, chargers, speakers or external
drives and let the PowerUSB Bar govern their power consumption.

Power is controlled not only with a timer similar to the CheckTap, but can also fire on an event. You can set a printer to only be powered on whenever an item is printed, or maybe just when Word is
running so you don't have to wait for it to warm up. Default states can
also be managed to have devices power up or down along with your
computer. On top of that you can define hot keys that control the
devices as well for rapid access without having to crawl behind your
machine. The truly hardcore can control the device with an API that's
available to control the power outlets from home grown software. Price
isn't available now but with any luck we'll be able to pick up the 30
of these that we can think of uses for right now with a bulk discount.

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In External Hard Drives
News: Hitachi's LifeStudio USB Drive Helps Manage Your Data as Well as Store It
Wednesday 7th July, 2010

Hitachi just adds some very useful software and hardware to its LifeStudio Drives that should make working with your data a lot more fun and easy. While large external drives are wonderful for taking care of a single type of file, say MP3s or Movies, more seasoned digital pack-rats will have tons of files that
need sorting and protecting. The software will catalog all the data
that is on the drives attached to your computer. Pictures are sorted
into a timeline/photo gallery in 3D wall style for easy searching and
perusal. Similar functions are available for other types of media.

The LifeStudio drives come in either desktop or mobile variants with a docking station. The Plus models come with a detachable flash drive that attached to the drive or docking station. On its own it functions as a regular flash drive for mobile data. Reattach the drive and the
LifeStudio automatically backs up all the data on it. The drives range
from 320 GB to 2 TB in capacity. The hefty 2TB USB drive is already
retailing for only $185; the Plus and the Mobile versions shouldn't push
those prices much once they are released which should be in the coming

Permanent Link

In USB Flash Drives
News: Mimoco Relaunches Original Mimobot Characters in Anniversary Celebration
Wednesday 7th July, 2010

Once upon a time, flash drives were born to allow us an easy way to carry data from place to place without burning CDs or lugging around large hard disk drives. Fast
forward a few years and they are so ubiquitous that are becoming fashion accessories. From eye-wear to jewelry,
thumb drives are taking on a more personal role in our lives. Case in
point, Mimoco has made a decent business out of releasing flash drives
dressed up as cute characters or movie tie-ins.
Their launch 5 years ago at the San Diego Comic-con gained them plenty
of customers and fans. They are celebrating their longevity with flashback drives reviving some of their original characters with new flair.

Isadore the dragon returns in a new hue along with a cast of 4 others. They are available in capacities up to 16GB for $80. Lower capacity drives
cost less, which may be important if you just have to have more than
one. Their press release mentions other surprises and we're hoping that
they have some Star Wars related news to add to this as well.

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In Smartphones
News: the icon iPhone Charger Finally Hits Retail
Tuesday 6th July, 2010

The once mysterious "the icon" iPhone battery pack is now available for $49.95 on its company site. It first made appearance in mid-June surprising the blogsphere with its truly unique iconic design in that the charger
itself looks strikingly similar to that of iPhone battery-charging icon.
When most people thought "the icon" might be just some concept work,
its company revealed the charger is actually covered with
electro-luminescent film to make its battery status glows.

To further prove the existence of the product, the "the icon" has been entitled by the Taiwan Good Design and also certified by Apple as an
"Works with iPhone" accessory. In terms of battery performance, "the
icon" provides an additional 3 hours of talk time; 5.5 hours of WiFi web
surfing; and 18 hours of MP3 playback. The 1000mAh Li-ion polymer
battery pack is rechargeable via a USB port. While it doesn't have any
buttons, the product itself is in fact a battery indicator. Among the iPhone chargers we've tested, this one is definitely uber-cool.

Permanent Link

In External Hard Drives
News: Icy Dock Stylish USB 3.0 Enclosure Takes Any 2.5" HDDs or SSDs
Tuesday 6th July, 2010

With ever increasingly capacity and low-power consumption of 2.5" drives, it's likely a matter of time before 2.5-inch based portable storage will
overtake 3.5" desktop counterparts in popularity. Here's a Icy Dock
USB 3.0 enclosure with a convenient tool-less design that allows users
to swap between different 2.5" SSD or HDDs without a screwdriver.
Designated MB668Y3-1SB,
the drive is enclosed in an aluminum body which you can pull the rear
end (oddly, it's in plastic) to reveal the internals. The AC adapter
hole and micro-B USB 3.0 connector on the rear are left relatively unprotected.

The enclosure can reportedly support up to 750GB 9.5mm 2.5". If you are going to plug this into a USB 3.0 port, the Icy Dock will likely not
require auxiliary power whose source relies on a DC-to-USB A cable. For
backward compatibility with USB 2.0, the Icy Dock can make use of the
said cable to draw additional power from another port. For $40, this is
truly a bargain considering you also get a leather pouch, 3 years of
warranty and that brand name USB 3.0 products still carries premium pricing.

Permanent Link

In USB Flash Drives
News: Canadian Team Induces Fear Due to Old Flaw in USB
Tuesday 6th July, 2010

A wise man once told me, "All computers are vulnerable from the console." This was in relation to the brash PC/Mac/Linux security wars that were
raging. This meant that as robust as security was, there really hadn't
been anything secure enough to completely protect a device that had
been physically accessed. Social engineering continues to be one of the
most underrated aspects of computer security and by far the easiest to
abuse. A team of Canadian engineers sought to further expose this
weakness by altering the hardware of a standard USB keyboard
to broadcast the keystrokes with blinkenlights. The operating system
doesn't have any way of knowing that the hardware has been altered and
thus the data processed by this keyboard has been completely

Other more obvious devious that better illustrate the potential of mal-hardware are annoy-a-tron USB devices available to miscreants with a credit card. These devices report that they are a keyboard and send random keystrokes to the
computer to annoy and enrage. They can take days to be discovered, due
to nothing actually being wrong except that a device that looks like a flash drive
acting like a keyboard. Just make sure that you are paying as much
attention to what's coming in the front door as well as what's coming in
over the wire.

Permanent Link

In USB Technologies
News: Texas Instrument Building up USB 3.0 Arsenal
Monday 5th July, 2010

Texas Instrument is about to become the latest to enter the USB 3.0 market. The fab has announced the immediately availability of a USB 3.0 PHY.
Short for Physical Layer Transceiver, TI's TUSB1310 PHY is excepted to
provide a wide range of peripherals such as PMPs, digital cameras, webcams, camcorders and smartphones a clear upgrade path to USB 3.0.

There are quite a few other integrated solutions yet they are controllers targeted exclusively at direct attached storage (DAS) market. Now those
controllers are now strengthened with USB Attached SCSI (UAS) to boost
speed by as much as 35%. This is something flash drives, RAID-0 drives and SSDs can take advantage of. Texas Instrument is also readying a number of USB 3.0 solutions
including two x1 PCI Express xHCI controllers; 4-port USB 3.0 hub chip;
and SuperSpeed USB to SATA 3.0 bridge. They will likely hit market in
the next few months.

Permanent Link

In Gaming Headsets & USB Speakers
News: Logitech USB Headsets, Now Enhanced with Skype's Super Wideband
Monday 5th July, 2010

Logitech announces today more headsets that support Skype's new audio compression and quality system. Now running on three of their latest
USB headset models, Logitech has even adopted the Super Wideband
technology for their own video chat program, Vid. Super Wideband
extends the dynamic range of voice frequencies allowing for a more
realistic sound to be sent. The resulting richer sound is clearer and
doesn't have that mechanical compressed feel to it. At the same time,
the Super Wideband system is network aware and adjusts the quality of
sound up and down depending on network congestion. This means that you
can be sure that you will always have the best possible quality sound
without sacrificing vital bandwidth. There's one caveat: Super Wideband
only works with Skype 4.0 and Logitech's Vid.

The trio of wired headsets: the H360, H530 and H555 are the newest in three of Logitech's most popular lines which will supplement ClearChat-series. Perfect for business or games, they feature a slender frame and medium sized ear cups for good sound isolation. All three sport an adjustable
microphone that can be rotated completely out of the way when not
needed. They are available for order now from Logitech's online store
now. Prices range from $54 to $89 depending on which style appeals to
you most.

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In USB Video Capture / PVR & USB Video Cards
News: Century 10" 16:9 USB Monitor Ready for 720p YouTube Viewing
Friday 2nd July, 2010

The Japanese may have discovered their tiny notebooks' screens are somewhat lacking in size. For this reason, you see all kinds of supplementary
monitors flourishing in this Far East country. Century once again seems
to have excelled the competitions with its 10.1" USB monitor that packs
an impressive 1,366 by 768 pixels. That's more than enough pixels for
YouTube HD entertainment or for a full-screen browser.

Century picks a LCD with true 16:9 aspect ratio, and for the purpose of the product, it's is pretty unique. We believe however a vertically-oriented
(6:19 aspect ratio) design is a better fit for document monitors.
Better yet, throw in auto rotation feature to make it even more
versatile. The Century LCD-10000U
- like all its siblings - is USB 2.0 powered given you have another
port to spare for auxiliary power. Brightness is modest, rated at
230cm/m2. If you are prepared to drop $250 USD, this imported USB
monitor should arrive in mid-July.

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In External Hard Drives
News: Addonics Adapter Creates Match Made in Heaven with USB 3.0 & eSATA
Friday 2nd July, 2010

We've been waiting for this device for awhile now, glad to see Addonics finally made this great idea a reality with the eSATA to USB 3.0 Adapter. Until USB 3.0, eSATA is the best and fastest mobile/external data transfer system we've had available to us. eSATA has had some little adoption and there
are some decent options out there already for high speed devices. USB
3.0 can get close to the ridiculous speed of eSATA which makes this
pairing so perfect. Addonics' tiny adapter allows the early adopters of
USB 3.0 to add all the available eSATA peripherals to their repertoire.

USB 3.0 provides enough power to for some smaller eSATA devices but the larger devices are the ones that are really exciting. We celebrate the release
of new SuperSpeed devices here almost one at a time but this gives us
dozens of new options all at once. All manner of RAID and storage
devices built with eSATA connections can now be run without the painful
management of eSATA cards and clumsy cables. The adapter is slightly
ungainly bulging where the eSATA cable would be connected limiting
access for other USB devices. Get yours now at their online store of course for only $34.

Permanent Link

In USB Gadgets
News: USB Chatman, It's Like a Furby Got a Lobotomy
Thursday 1st July, 2010

Okay, rude titles are funny but this might actually keep little kids entertained and help keep them safer. The USB Chatman is a bright
yellow Pikachu looking toy that responds to what's being typed in as
well as the responses. You can give it a name, pick its voice as well
as its basic personality. Those choices determine roughly how the USB
Chatman responds to what your child is typing and more importantly what
is being sent back. The USB Chatman is very animated, changing the LED
pattern of its mouth and waggles its arms and ear-tennae. It also works with IM clients, FaceBook and other web tools.

The best thing is that this little guy is your inside man. The USB Chatman will alert you by loudly exclaiming whenever your little ones start
discussing or hearing stuff that ought not to. If you're a responsible
parent, you'll have stayed within earshot to hear his tinny warning.
The configuration screen lets you identify any personal hot-buttons you
want to censor. This might sound overbearing but remember, paying too
much attention to your child beats paying too little attention. The best
thing about this little dancing teddy bear is the price. The USB
Chatman can come home and entertain for you for only $60 online.

Permanent Link

In Keyboards & Keypads
News: Optimus Popularis - Another Futuristic Keyboard that Costs You an Arm and a Leg
Thursday 1st July, 2010

The Andy Warhol of the computer age prepares to deliver unto us, the unworthy, another drool-inducing . The Optimus Popularis shines over its predecessor somehow having a more modern version of the ultra futuristic keyboard. Not entirely sure that's possible with
tearing a hole in the fabric of spacetime, Art Lebedev boldly continues
to go where no credit dares to tread. The fabulous keyboards, packed
with individual LCD screens under each key are ridiculously expensive.
It is their hope that this will be a more budget conscious model will
eek in at just under $1000. So, if you're looking for a new keyboard
around Christmas time and a plane coincidentally crashes with a large
number of wealthy relatives, this might be just the thing for you. You
should still be able to make out the gorgeous LED backlit displays
through your grief.

Deus ex Machina aside, the price isn't actually the biggest barrier to getting one of these to your home. Each of the previous models, if they
actually made it from concept to catalog, were made in extremely small
runs. The Optimus Maximus keyboard is actually still available for
those in need only slightly more expensive than a complete gaming
computer, 3 laptops, 8 netbooks, half a used car or 40 MS Arc keyboards.
Get in line for this sub-K keyboard but don't hold your breath, it's
already a year in the making and Art is only batting .250 on actually
delivering Optimus Vaporous for actual purchase.

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