More companies are making tiny, portable speakers that plug into the headphone jack of your iPod, iPhone, music player, or laptop so you can enjoy your music while you're on the road. Like Altec Lansing's Orbit MP3 iM237, which is shaped like a hockey puck, the $50 iHome iHM77 also makes a design statement with its mushroom-like collapsible speakers that attach magnetically to each other and morph into a capsule that slips into a carrying pouch. That part we liked. But the sound didn't exactly wow us.
There's a good chance you've never heard of Pace, but back in April, the company--a developer of cable and satellite set-top box digital video recorders--acquired the set-top box and connectivity solutions business of Royal Philips Electronics. That fact has very little to do with this post, other than to give you an idea of the size of Pace and how it has its DVRs running in more than 17 million homes. (Pace DVRs work in any regions that are serviced by Comcast and/or Dish Network.)
So maybe you have a Pace box in your home right now … Read more
Donald and Jasmine discuss a new PVP from Cowon with an attractive price point.
Plus, Sonos inadvertently lowers the entry price point for its excellent in-home audio networking system--for those who already own iPhones or the iPod Touch. We interview Sonos co-founder Tom Cullen to get all the details.
Also this week: cute multimedia speakers, an overpriced in-car charger dock, and Jasmine's favorite music gadgets.
How about a 64-bit operating system with that 64-bit processor?
The 64-bit version of Windows Vista is not new. It arrived when Vista did. But making it standard on a crush of new consumer laptops being sold at Best Buy is a recent change.
All PCs now ship with Intel or Advanced Micro Devices 64-bit processors. Until recently, however, most consumer laptops have come with a 32-bit version of Vista. There are many reasons for this, two of the biggest being a lack of driver support and the larger memory requirements for the 64-bit OS.
But memory is no longer … Read more
Among home-theater enthusiasts, Logitech Harmony remotes have always rated fairly high. They're easier to program than most (thanks to browser-based software), they're packed with features (most notably built-in help), and they're quite comfortable to use. However, the higher-end models tend to be pretty pricey: witness the Harmony 880, which originally sold for $249. If you don't mind a refurbished remote, you can pick up a Harmony 880 for just $69.99 shipped.
Although this model is a couple years old, it's still one of the top options in the Harmony line. It features a color … Read more
Last week, my iGoogle home page suddenly got a new look via the addition of a pane on the left side containing shortcuts to my widgets. I didn't ask for the new arrangement, and I can't find a way to make the new left pane disappear.
What's worse, when I now click my Gmail in-box, I get an abbreviated version of the application, minus a search box and other useful features. To see the whole enchilada, I have to click the Launch Full Gmail link in the top-right corner of the window. Huh?
The upshot is that … Read more
Plat'Home, the maker of small, tough, eco-friendly servers that I've blogged about before, ran a contest this summer about ideas.
It was dubbed the "Will Linux Work? Contest" and solicited ideas about how to use Linux, how to abuse Linux, how to push the limits.
Part of it was marketing, sure. But it focused on Linux users' ideas--with the best ones winning a free Plat'Home OpenMicroServer worth $600 to test their ideas.
So which ideas won and how did the actual testing go? On Tuesday, Plat'Home released the results of the experiments.First, there was the "chicken sitter."
Gordon Smith of Lakewood, Colo., wanted to do a Linux project and also had a chicken coop. Obviously, they go together. His system is built around an inexpensive Webcam with infrared capability to see in the dark, along with a computer vision library to count the chickens.
To determine when nocturnal predators come out, the server runs simple network time protocol (SNTP). A stepper motor controller and power supply from a document scanner are used to open and close the coop door. The combination should make sure the door closes after all the chickens are home to roost. I love the image of raccoons trying to outsmart Linux. … Read more
Inkjet technology isn't just for printers.
Hewlett-Packard has agreed to license its patent on inkjet for use in a treatment system for people suffering kidney failure, according to HP's director of IP licensing, Charlie Chapman.
Sure, the two might sound completely unrelated, but HP's done something similar before: last year, another medical services company licensed inkjet intellectual property to administer vaccines.
But this time, HP will allow Home Dialysis Plus, a new company still gathering funding, to use HP's "fluid management" technology used in inkjet printers.
HP uses it to create calculated mixtures of … Read more
SAN DIEGO--Two very different companies are developing ways to track energy usage in homes equipped with solar panels.
SolarCity, a company that leases solar panels to households, introduced on Wednesday a new version of its SolarGuard software that displays panels' production alongside a home's electricity usage.
In many states, people pay a higher rate for electricity during peak times in the middle of the day and early evening. By tracking usage--and solar panels' production--people can decide to run a washing machine at night, for example.
"The biggest energy-efficiency challenge in every house is not changing light bulbs. It'… Read more
There are relatively few markets that would benefit more from open source than home automation, with its myriads of different electrical nodes and associated complexity.
It is this opportunity that led to the creation of Marc Fleury and Mark Spencer's OpenRemote project, and that recently led them to release the Beehive database, a "Web-based open-source application to collect, format, and distribute home automation codes."
Similar to the Volantis Mobile Device Database which serves as a central repository for the growing array of disparate mobile devices (i.e., data on screen size and resolution, keyboard, etc.), Beehive promises … Read more