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Gadget Advisor

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5

CyberLink PowerCinema 6 ReviewCyberLink PowerCinema 6 helps turn a regular PC into a HDTV and a multimedia entertainment center. Released on November 13, 2008, Powercinema 6 includes features for watching television, viewing photographs, enjoying music and DVF movies, and even listening to the radio. With simple channel management and support for HDTV, PowerCinema 6 gives users the versatility of being able to view high-definition television straight from their computers.

With Schedules Recording and Time-Shift Playback, PowerCinema 6 turns your computer into a personal television recorder, which frees users from the chains of regular television.  The software offers support for MPEG-4 AVC hi-def video.  Multiple subtitles and audio tracks can also be recorded, which enables you to change the language while watching recorded television.

PowerCinema 6 also comes loaded with a number of new usability features. The Entertainment Interface categorizes your media, including Entertainment which would be DVDs, music, radio, TV and Memories that consists of videos and photos. It also automatically detects the size of your screen and sets video display to either 4:3 playback or widescreen. With color-coded hotkeys, you can easily navigate your way to key features of the software. You can use these color keys either on the screen or by separately purchasing the Cyberlink Remote Control. You have the option to Quick Review your recent photos/videos/music, and PowerCinema 6 also enables you to select a group of files to play or edit.

PowerCinema 6 provides quick access to your favorite audio as well. You can easily locate your music using Quick Music Search, which uses meta data information to find the desired track. Power Cinema 6 supports MP3, WAV, WMA, and Audio CD (CDA) formats.

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The Moshi IVR alarm clock features TimeSet technology and is the first alarm clock that requires only voice commands to set the time and alarm. Using IVR Technology, Interactive Voice Recognition, commands are initiated with a simple “Hello Moshi”.  The system responds by asking “Command Please?”. The device’s IVR technology uses a mixture of HMM Phonetic Speaker Independent Recognition software and Neural Net software, which makes it possible for the clock to understand numerous accents and enables large vocabulary recognition. The alarm clock is always listening, screening conversations, and waiting for the keyword “Hello Moshi” to initiate commands.

Novel clock users will love the convenience of the Moshi IVR Alarm Clock. No more getting out of bed to turn it off.  You can ask Moshi the time while you’re getting ready for work, and it’ll also tell you the current temperature. A night light is included as well.  The Moshi IVR alarm clock is a great tool for blind and visually impaired individuals, and the World Blind Union endorses Moshi because of its simplicity with verbal commands.

Listed below are the voice commands available when using Moshi:

Sleep Sound Choose 1 of 3 available sleep sounds
Play Sleep Sound Plays 5 minutes of the sleep sound (3 minutes for travel size)
Today’s Date Tells you today’s date
Temperature Tells you the current temperature
Night Light Turns on the night light
Help Offers a help menu of assistance
Time Tells you the current time
Set Time Set the clock’s time by voice
Alarm Tells you the alarm time set
Set Alarm Set the clock’s alarm time by voice
Alarm Sound Choose 1 of 3 available alarm sounds
Turn Off the Alarm Turns off the alarm, and gives current time, date, and temperature

 

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Google Talk with Voice and VideoGoogle is always working to release new and effective Internet solutions.  Continuing in this tradition, Google’s Talk messenger application has recently been updated with video and voice capabilities.  The new release is not meant to be a contender to Skype, as it does not possess the ability to connect to the standard phone network or voice mail support.

The audio and video is high quality, though.  Since Google Talk’s video traffic goes through Google servers, it’s expected to be more consistent as far as the connection then Skype since Google has endless bandwidth and server space. If you’re using an older computer, the PC may suffer poor performance during usage since the application utilizes a lot of resources.  There are no such issues with any recent system, however.

Straying from the path of other video chat products, Google Voice and Video uses a proprietary plug-in instead of Flash. A miniscule download of 2MB supports Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google’s own Chrome on a PC as well as Firefox on a Mac.  Details have not yet been released on support for other platforms, such as Linux, but ports for them may come later. Google Video and Voice made its official public debut at midday on Tuesday, November 18th. Now that Google provides Voice and Video, users have access to a vast array of tools with one login, including email, voice, chat, and soon even SMS. If Google ties in Youtube and Google Docs better in the future, the Google account will be nearly unstoppable.

Google’s Voice and Video is quite simple to use.  When the option is available, a "Video & More" button is shown in the chat messaging window.  Once selected, the plug-in will be installed and immediately accessible for video calls with friends.

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Whether you love or hate Apple, you must admit that the iPhone revolutionized cell phones as we know them today. Before the 1st generation iPhone hit the market, the top selling phone for the past three years was the Motorola RAZR.  However, not too long ago, the iPhone and Apple enjoyed monumental achievement by becoming the best selling phone in the third-quarter of 2008. It’s been almost two years since the release of the original iPhone, and only a few months ago Apple released the iPhone 3G. Both phones are still missing some basic features, but there has been an improvement in the latter version. In this article, we will cover the differences between the iPhone 2G (or first generation) iPhone and it’s newer counterpart, the iPhone 3G.

Apple iPhone 2G VS iPhone 3G

Design and Dimensions

Even though there aren’t too many differences in the exterior of the models, we are going to point them out before we get to the hardware. The screen size is exactly the same at 3.5" on both models, which provides for an ultra-clear 480×320 screen resolution. The rear of the original iPhone has a smooth metal finish with a black strip at the bottom. The front of it has a shiny metal piece that surrounds the side of the phone and ends behind the screen. The iPhone 3G has a smooth piano black or white finish. It also has the shiny metal piece around the outside of the screen. The iPhone 3G features buttons that are made from a shiny metal, excluding the home button. This gives them a sturdier feel compared to its predecessor. The shape of the 3G phone is a major difference as the original iPhone is a little thicker and completely flat when set down. The 3G has more of a round feel to it that flattens out slightly around the edges. It has been said that the screen of the 3G heats to a warmer temperature than that of the original iPhone.

Apple iPhone 2G/3G Size and weight

Features & Technical Specifications

Once we get under the hood, we begin to see where the 3G separates itself from it’s older brother. The iPhone 2G only supported WiFi, GSM, and Bluetooth. This means its speed surfing the Internet were quite limited. The iPhone 3G introduced 3G speeds to Apple’s flagship model, and it also supports WiFi, GSM, and Bluetooth. This makes for a better experience surfing, watching Youtube videos, and downloading data onto the phone from the Internet. The first generation iPhone supported the following frequencies:  GSM and Quad-Band (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). The iPhone 3G supports all of those frequencies, but added to the list quite a few more to enable running at 3G speeds, including UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz). The iPhone 3G also supports GPS, which was not included in the original iPhone.

Both phones have a 2MP camera, but do not feature a video recorder. The iPhone 3G weighs 4.7 ounces compared to the 2G’s weight of 4.8 ounces (not a notable difference). The only downside to 3G capabilities is that it eats into battery life.  The iPhone 2G beats out the newer version in that regard by providing up to 8 hours of talk-time compared to 5 hours with the 3G.

Apple iPhone 2G/3G Battery Life

Bottom Line

Comparing two great phones is always hard, but Apple made a great move by creating the 3G iPhone. The iPhone 2G is impressive, but with the features the 3G provides and the transition with new phones all moving to 3G, it’s a definite requirement if Apple wants to maintain its new status as the #1 selling phone in the US.

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Panasonic Toughbook F8, W8, and T8 NotebooksPanasonic has released a new Toughbook model as well as updated two of their existing products.  The new product is the Toughbook F8, while the models updated include the Toughbook W8 ultra portable laptop and the stylish Toughbook T8 tablet PC. Taking design tips from what Panasonic likes to call the "walking worker", the Toughbook T8 is definitely a contender in the notebook market, with extras such as a stylus, touch screen, and screen rotating software. With a surprisingly convenient rubber hands strap and a 12.1" tough LCD screen, the T8 sports a power saving Intel Core 2 Duo processor, is expandable to 4GB of RAM, is capable of providing 7 hours of battery life, and offers a 120GB hard drive.

It’s sister model, the Toughbook W8, has an anti-glare LCD display that is also 12.1". The main difference between the two machines is that the W8 weighs in slightly less and that the Panasonic Toughbook T8 has the ergonomic hand strap missing from the Toughbook W8. Also, the T8 includes Display Image Rotation software the W8 does not. The T8 weighs about 3.3 pounds, and the Toughbook W8 weighs in at a light 3 pounds. Both machines have exceptional battery life because of the low voltage Intel Duo Core processors utilized.

Both models come with Windows Vista Business pre-installed, but they can also be downgraded to XP if preferred.  Both models also come with complete wireless capabilities, including Bluetooth. Pricing on the Toughbook notebooks starts at $2,099. For the durability and power these machines can provide, it’s well worth the money for many users.

As for the Panasonic Toughbook F8, it is proudly branded as the world’s lightest 3G-ready notebook, wielding a 14.1" wide display and an internal optical drive. The Toughbook F8 took a page out of the book of its predecessor, the T8, by adding a handle. This gives it somewhat of a small briefcase appearance when shut. It comes with a DVD burner and a 160GB hard disk drive. Selling for $2,499, the laptop could be irresistible for businesses that require Panasonic’s expertise in designing solid, reliable, and highly durable portable computers.

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Super Talent 2.5" 64GB and 128GB MasterDrive LX SSDSolid state drives (SSDs) are becoming increasing popular, especially as prices drop.  Super Talent now joins OCZ in leading the movement toward affordable solid state drives.  Super Talent’s MasterDrive LX is available in 64GB and 128GB capacities in a 2.5" form factor.  As with other SSDs, the MasterDrive LX offer about five times better resistance to shock and vibration, support a wider range of operating temperatures and altitudes, consume less energy, and are absolutely silent.

To ensure the highest level of reliability and compatibility, the MasterDrive LX underwent SuperTalent’s formidable arsenal of validation tests. The SSD is completely interchangeable with mechanical hard disk drives since they use the same SATA-II 3Gbps interface. Built with NAND flash, these SSDs provide read/write speeds that max out at 100MB/s and 40MB/sec accordingly. The lifespan of the SSDs are significantly lengthened by the integrated ECC, bad bit management, and wear leveling systems.

The 64GB model costs around $179, while the 128GB SSD is priced at the bargain value of $299. The drives a certainly an attractive option for the stocking of a tech-savvy individual this holiday season!

4

Logitech Z-500 Wireless SpeakersMost people use laptops to gain freedom from wires and portability.  While it’s true that everything is packed into a small, self-contained machine with a notebook, once you start connecting other devices, your battery life runs low, requiring the power cable, etc., sometimes it feels like we’re back to square one.  Logitech recently brought out its Z-500 speakers that help clear the clutter by providing wireless enhanced audio. The Z-500 uses high-performance wireless technology so that you can place the speaker just about anywhere in the vicinity and still enjoy quality music, movies, and other multimedia. Utilizing Stereo XL technology, the Z-500 speakers automatically optimize acoustic levels to provide you a fuller, richer sound. The speakers are connected to your PC in the exact same fashion that you connect a wireless mouse – basically all you’re doing is connecting the Z-500 speakers to the computer using the wireless USB dongle that came with in the package.

If you feel like wiring the speakers up, feel free to use the included USB cable. It also comes with an auxiliary input in the form of a 3.5mm stereo jack so you can connect your iPod or other favorite MP3 player to the device. Inside the speakers is a rechargeable battery that can provide up to 12 hours of playing time from a single charge. No software is required, which makes for a ready-to-go solution out of the box.  The unit comes with a protective travel case to help keep the speakers safe, whether you’re walking over to a neighbor’s or on a business flight to France.

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Lenovo Ideapad S10 NetbookThe Lenovo Ideapad S10 is a small, efficient, and affordable laptop with a 10" diagonal screen.  Smaller laptops are increasingly popular, and Lenovo’s great reputation for quality laptops makes the Ideapad of particular interest.  The S10 goes to the market for just $399, making it an affordable option that could be the perfect gift this holiday season.

The Ideapad S10 will be available in five colors, but currently only black and white are available.  Red, blue, and pink are the other choices that will be available in the near future. The system weighs around 2.65lbs, making it an ultra-portable well-suited for businessmen, college students, or anyone else on the go.  Being priced at only $399, there are, of course, some downsides such as the lower-power processor and 3-cell battery that provides for only 3 hours of usage unplugged. The low-capacity battery is used because of its size/weight so that the overall weight of the Ideapad S10 is minimized.  However, we feel that Lenovo should have still offered a higher capacity battery as an upgrade option.  The Ideapad keyboard also does not live up to the ThinkPad standard.

As for the notebook’s performance, it uses an Intel Atom N270 processor @ 1.6 GHZ and 1 GB of DDR2 memory. It’s no Alienware, but it does the job for the average user. It can handle around 6 light-weight programs and one or two heavy applications at once. Hard-core programs like Maya, Photoshop, and After-Effects might be too much for the system to handle. The small size of this laptop is something that will catch the eyes of people who love to move around, and its pricing is a great option for this holiday season.

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ThermalRight Ultra 120 Extreme PC CoolerThe ThermalRight Ultra 120 Extreme Cooler is a large kit that expands on the quality of ThermalRight’s Ultra 120.  When you open the box, you’ll find the quite large Ultra 120 eXtreme unit, along with mounting hardware. As with most of Thermalright’s products, the Ultra 120 eXtreme is developed to be used in combinations with just about all of Intel and AMD’s recent models, including Intel’s new LGA 1366 socket to support Intel Core i7 965XE/940/920 processors. If you own an AMD AM2 board, you will have to make an extra purchase of the AM2 back metal plate. Remember that it’s best to check the motherboard compatibility list before making a purchase.  From the bottom to the tip of the heat pipe, the Ultra 120 Extreme stands 16.3cm. Being a huge cooler, it is best to also measure from the socket to where you will attach the case side panel, to ensure there’s enough free space before purchasing.

A great function of the Ultra 120 eXtreme is its ability to mount in many different positions, such as facing up, down, to the right or left of the motherboard. This gives you the flexibility to mount it in a way that you can direct the warm air out of the case. ThermalRight’s Ultra 120 and Ultra 120 Extreme do not come with a fan included. This can be a good thing because some users like to purchase a specific fan for their particular needs.  Your results can depend on the fan you choose, though, therefore consider selecting a high-end model to match the high-end cooling system.  One excellent option that was tested with this cooler is the Scythe S-Flex 800 RPM. The fan, in combination with ThermalRight’s Ultra 120 eXtreme, performed well enough to get within 1 degree Celsius of Thermaltake’s best cooler that was running at 1250 RPM.

The ThermalRight Ultra Extreme 120 is a very impressive cooling system when the right fan is selected.  The cooler may be considered pricy since it sells for $60 before buying the fan, but it will be well worth it for many users due to its low-noise and solid performance.

3

KODAK Zi6 Pocket Video CameraKodak has released the Zi6, a PDA-size camera that has the capability to record HD video of the utmost clarity. Consumers can record in multiple modes, including camera photos (of course), HD60, HD, and VGA.  The device offers AV and HD ports to facilitate connection to an external display for instant, high definition viewing.  When waiting immediately is not required, the content can be uploaded to PC via the provided USB port. It also comes with software that can be used to upload video to Youtube with ease. Kodak opted to run the camera on two AA batteries, of which two rechargeables are included, along with a battery charger.

The controls for the camera are extremely easy and can be learned in a matter of seconds. The Kodak Zi6 uses a joystick – tap once to record, another time to stop, to the left to play a video, and to the right to stop. The setup is great for those not as tech savvy, allowing everyone to use the camera because of its simple control scheme.

The USB port, of course, makes it simple to transfer video and photos to your PC.  A Macro mode feature is available that boosts image quality when focusing on something close up. It has a large LCD screen for viewing videos and photos captured.  A mirror is also integrated on the back for those who wish to take pictures or video of themselves.  The camera also includes built-in speakers so that video content can be accessed with sound immediately after recording.

The camera is an excellent option for those who like to record video on the go, and could make for a special gift to unwrap on December 25th.

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