News Archive for 06/08/11

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TEAC ultra-flat, iPod-ready hi-fi

08/11, 4:50pm

TEAC Ultra-Flat Hi-Fi

The recently announced Soloist media dock might be useful as a small set of iPod speakers, but its size by definition rules it out as a dedicated stereo: a small single-piece stereo will always have limited effective stereo separation or bass response. Appropriately, TEAC is offering a pair of new bookshelf hi-fi units that keep the iPod dock and NXT flat-panel speaker technology while adding much more power to the sound. The CD-X10i (pictured) is a tall, narrow stereo with a detachable iPod dock alongside a CD player, AM/FM tuner, and a minijack for accepting other audio sources. Its brother the MC-DX22i is shorter, wider, and has an integrated dock. No information has been given yet about the sound output of each set, but the price differences between the $249 CD-X10i and $299 MC-DX22i suggests that there is more than just the cosmetic difference of an integrated dock. The former model ships this month, while buyers looking for the latter can expect it in September. A photo of the MC-DX22i is available in the full article.

Flip remote: using cellphone design to help TVs

08/11, 4:05pm

Flip Remote Control

Choices in remote controls for a TV are often binary. Buyers can opt either for the complex, powerful remote that can be a hindrance when they just want to change channels, or else they can use the overly simplified remote that will typically fall short of expectations. Geisen Design decided that the best balance between these extremes could be reached by borrowing from cellphone ergonomics: their Flip remote control resembles many modern flip phones and takes advantage of the shape to split the controls based on your intentions. If you only need basic functions, the closed remote has easy buttons on the outside; if you need more advanced options, swinging the Flip open gives access to a vast suite of options. The Flip is currently just a design study but is clearly ready to be translated into a production unit without much trouble. Click "read more" for a photo from another angle.

HP MediaSmart HDTV

08/11, 3:30pm

HP MediaSmart HDTV

Current talk of media hubs revolves around home theater PCs. These can be exercises in frustration for newcomers who might not know or care about the work involved in setting up a PC as a media hub for the living room. HP believes that some people would rather bypass the PC element altogether and stream content from their existing computer. The 37-inch MediaSmart LCD TV is identical to its cousin the LC3760N in other specifications save for the addition of a media player, but it's this player that makes the difference. Through either 802.11a/b/g or Ethernet, you can stream several different audio, photo, and video formats (including Live365 and Rhapsody radio streams) through the TV without requiring a second system or outside box. Streaming is handled on the computer through UPnP or Windows Media Connect and generally favors Windows PCs through support. Cost is the main obstacle: at $2700, the MediaSmart is $1000 more expensive than its ordinary counterpart. Still, it's more elegant and simple than most alternatives.

Buslink MC512: a music player with a dock included

08/11, 2:50pm

Buslink MC512 Player

By now, one of the iPod's key advantages is not just its design or interface: momentum has made it hard for any digital audio player but the iPod to have a meaningful collection of accessories. One company found a rather simple workaround for this dilemma: it included the accessory in the box. If you buy a Buslink MC512 for $99, your player comes with its own custom-designed speaker dock. As the model name suggests, this is a fairly standard 512MB flash player with MP3, WMA, and WAV support alongside an FM tuner and recording. For the money it could be the easiest way to get a portable stereo for home or the office. It's available immediately and works with Macs and Windows PCs. See a full photo after the jump.

Automatic anti-malware in a flash drive

08/11, 2:20pm

Anti-Malware Flash Drive

Computer veterans are all too familiar with requests from family and friends asking for yet another house call to fix spyware and viruses that compromised their system. A CD preloaded with anti-malware tools is often the solution, but burning a CD every time definitions or software versions change isn't very convenient. ParetoLogic's XOFTspy software just might be the key. It takes advantage of U3-based flash drives made by companies like SanDisk to run programs directly from the drive without first being copied to the computer: plug a U3 drive loaded with the software into a Windows system's USB port and it automatically scans and cleans the system of any malware it can find. This could be especially useful for corporate systems and ultraportables that might not have an optical drive built-in. You can get XOFTspy online for $15 without a U3 drive.

LG's KV2400 slider phone

08/11, 12:40pm

LG KV2400 Slider Phone

With all the apparent success behind LG's Chocolate slider phone and its arrival in the US, readers might be interested in the Korean company's latest phone in the same vein: the KV2400. Currently only available under the Cyon brand in LG's home territory of Korea, the KV2400 could be a viable alternative to those who want a different interface and style than the Chocolate. The specifications are very similar: it too focuses heavily on music playback and has a 1.3 megapixel camera with video functions. A lack of Korea-specific features like T-DMB for mobile TV might disappoint users on its native soil, but that makes it a prime candidate for North American cellphone carriers who want to match Verizon's offerings.

Is "The Big One" attacking Windows soon?

08/11, 12:10pm

Big One Attacking Windows

Security experts have often talked about the possibility of a "Big One" striking Windows: a worm which spreads so quickly and destructively through the Internet that large numbers of connected computers are rendered almost unusable by the infection, not having had the time to patch the vulnerability. The chances of such an attack are fairly low, since truly damaging worms either hurt their own ability to spread or else are quickly contained through updates. Our closest brush with a "Big One" was the Blaster worm, which bombarded networks with traffic and crippled Windows XP systems without a firewall or the right patch. A newly discovered Windows vulnerability, however, has experts scrambling to warn users lest their worst fears come true. More about the problem and reactions to it after the jump.

BBC staying alive through clip-on digital radio

08/11, 11:10am

BBC Clip-On Digital Radio

Exact information about availability or features is still far from ready, but the BBC plans to release a "clip-on" digital radio add-on for digital audio players in the near future. The British news organization cites studies showing that a fifth of Americans over 12 years old own at least one player as its main reason for entering the market. As a radio broadcaster, the BBC has a vested interest in keeping radio alive during a time when more and more people listen only to their private music collections. The device will not be limited to the BBC's own content, and players will likely also be made for cars and cellphones. In the article posted to the company's Internet news portal, a BBC representative says that stories of Apple's involvement is "pure speculation" - though the iPod's dominance of the market will clearly require that the BBC at least consider iPod support for the digital radio add-on.

Sony's first Blu-Ray writer: no copy-protected movies

08/11, 10:30am

Sony Blu-Ray Writer Movies

The news of Sony's first Blu-Ray drive for computers, the BWU-100A, was eagerly anticipated. Unlike the first drives in the market, Sony's model shipping next week can read and write a full three formats (BD, DVD, and CD) and is considerably less expensive at $750. Recently, however, Sony announced a major complication: the new drive can't play copy-protected Blu-Ray movies. Sony's Vincent Bautista explained to journalists that the limitations are due to a lack of supporting hardware and software. While the AR-series notebooks have an HDMI interface and a bundled special edition of InterVideo's WinDVD that can handle copy-protected Blu-Ray movies, there are very few desktop video cards with the appropriate decryption and no stand-alone copies of WinDVD or similar programs to provide software support. The problem is mitigated by the lack of such protection requirements on current Blu-Ray movies, but early adopters of Sony's PC drive may need to buy future hardware and software before they can have guaranteed support for future content.

Curon QCOX: camera-style media player

08/11, 9:50am

Curon QCOX Media Player

Portable media players tend to follow a fairly specific formula: a 4-inch or larger screen, a hard drive, and support for multiple audio and video formats. Curon, a Korea-based electronics maker, is following that prescription with a slight twist. The QCOX media player has a 4.3-inch screen and a 30 GB hard drive. Though the company isn't specific on which formats the player will support, the use of Windows CE probably means that MP3, WMA, AVI, and WMV are likely choices. Where the QCOX truly stands out is its interface: it uses a dial similar to that on a camera to let you change between different media modes. As befits a Korean player, there is also T-DMB support for mobile TV broadcasts. This player might not reach our shores in its current form if at all, but even at the Korean price of $520 it could be a more distinct and sleek alternative to Archos.

Koss Cobalt Bluetooth headphones

08/11, 9:20am

Koss Cobalt Headphones

Bluetooth headphones are no longer a new concept, but we have yet to find a perfectly executed set. A particular sore point is the battery. Quite a few Bluetooth headphones require that you use disposable batteries that add bulk or else continually drain money every few months (if not weeks). That's one area in which Koss' new Cobalt headphones improve substantially. In place of a set of AA batteries, the Cobalt uses a built-in lithium-ion battery: just charge it through a USB cable and you have about 8 hours of use. It can pair with almost anything that supports Bluetooth audio and includes both a USB dongle for computers as well as a minijack transmitter for digital audio players. You can get the Cobalt now for $180.

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