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Archive for the ‘Personal Electronics’ Category

NPR’s Eton Radio With Out The Donation

October 26th, 2009

Don’t tell the guys at NPR, but rather than making a donation in my Mom’s name to get her a radio like the one I got, I just picked one up from a site online.  I got an Eton radio when I contributed to KQED, but my mom wanted one so instead of ponying up during a pledge drive I got her the Eton FR350 Self-Powered Water Resistant AM FM Shortwave Radio w/ Flashlight, Siren & Cell Phone Charger in Camouflage, from UnityElectronics instead.

Eton FR350 Self-Powered Water Resistant AM FM Shortwave Radio w/ Flashlight, Siren & Cell Phone Charger, Camouflage, Retail

I should probably feel bad, since I listen to a lot of NPR, but my Mom doesn’t so I figure it works out.

The radio is $29.95, and a great deal.  I really enjoy mine if for no other reason than making Diz turn the crank to charge her Vertu phone.

Personal Electronics

Sony Webbie HD MHS-PM1 Seriously Sucks

March 25th, 2009

Since the iPhone doesn’t do even sucky video, I have been looking for a “Flip” style Camcorder for Diz to carry in her purse for when she wants to shoot a quick video or pose with her friends, the kinds of things girls do with little cameras, which I might benefit from on occasion.

I had been stalling waiting for the Webbie HD from Sony (the MHS-PM1) to ship. And as it came out Monday I picked one up today, and have to say, you don’t even get what you pay for sometimes.

The Menus are far from intuitive.  The Webbie HD shipped in 720p mode, and I wanted to really see what it could do with 1080p 30.  Well it took a good 10 minutes to figure out that to do this you push the button with the trash can on it.  A sign of the things to come.

Once I was up and shooting, about 3 minutes in I had filled the internal memory which is miniscule, really only enough to store the drivers and the Video uploading software which the camera comes with.

Not to be dissuaded I plugged the USB cable in to download the video I had just shot only to discover that the camera was in “web cam” mode.  I get an error on my Windows Vista Laptop (a sexy Sony Viao) saying “there is no driver for this device (MHS-PM1)”.  I pop in the CD that came with the Webbie HD and figure it will autodetect and be happy.  Nope.

I switch the camera to Mass Storage mode and download the 1440x1080p video which while shot in 16:9 mode plays back on the PC in 4:3 mode.  Diz will think that’s fantastic, as she will be 33% skinnier when standing up, but those shots of her lying by the pool she’ll be 33% fatter…um less skinnier?… in any event the video plays back in the wrong mode.

At this point I embark on my search for drivers to make the camera work as a web cam.  Diz only has a Fixed web cam in her laptop, and it is always pointed the wrong way when she attaches a keyboard an monitor so this was a “big” feature for her.

Sony’s support site says zero about the MHS-PM1, so I look at its sister product the MHS-CM1, which has a note at the bottom of the page “USB Streaming is not supported on Microsoft Vista”.  So a camera that came out at CES doesn’t work with the laptop that came out at CES? 

You might as well put out co-ordinates in your spring line, that the tops only match with pants from your fall line. 

Then there is the battery / recharging issues.  The battery has to be taken out an put on the charger.  There is a DC in Port on the Camera, but that only allows you to run with out draining the battery, not actually charge the battery.

You’d expect that the camera could run off the power from the USB cable, maybe even charge off of it.  Nope.  If you plug the camera in via USB it lights up the LCD to tell you the mode, draining the battery as much as using the camera, and doesn’t pull power from the USB to keep from draining the battery.

Digging out my old XP laptop, the Webcam did work, but barely.  Unlike my Microsoft Webcam which will do 720p 15fps, the Webbie tops out at 640×480 at 30fps.  And while you have that great LCD screen on, and lit up, it doesn’t show you the video you just a black screen that says “Web Cam Mode”.  Oh, and if you were going to web cam for more than about 45 minutes you would need the DC adapter that doesn’t come in the box.

Unlike the cheaper not quite as “cute” Insignia, the Webbie HD doesn’t have HDMI out, instead it has a proprietary connector for Component.

Will I be keeping this? Maybe.  It is the most stylish of the Pocket camcorders, it is a royal pain for Diz that her Laptop doesn’t have a Memory Stick slot, so she has to move files via the USB cable, so likely it will go in my jacket rather than her purse, and I’ll get her the. HDR-TG1 instead.

Personal Electronics

Monster Beats by Dr. Dre

February 17th, 2009

I got hooked up with a set of Beats by Dr. Dre from Monster Cable while I was in Vegas for CES / AVN. 

Noel Lee, Dr Dre, Jimmy Lovine, and Beats by Dr Dre Earbuds

These ear buds pack a lot more wallop than the iPod’s stock ear buds, and rock pretty hard, and sound amazing.  Unlike most earbuds these have some solid bass.

Jimmy Lovine and Dr. Dre. signed off on the sound of these head phones, and they are sweet as a result.

beats by dr dre

The thing I actually like most about these ear buds is not how great they sound, or how nicely they fit in my ears (and they do), but rather how the material they are made from is very tangle resistant.  I am constantly destroying ear buds that get knotted in my pocket.  These seem to be all but indestructible, and they stay in even when I’m running with the top down at high way speed.

Personal Electronics