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USB

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Cables Unlimited Wireless USB Adapter DonglesFor those tired of not having enough USB ports or needing more positioning options, the Cables Unlimited Wireless USB Adapter Set provides an exceptional solution.  It is equipped with the Wisair’s single chip, which allows customers to enable wired USB devices to work with wireless USB.  It is true that transmission speeds may not be as fast or reliable as with a traditional wired USB connection, but if you want less cables, additional connections, or the freedom to have a device further away from the PC, this is certainly an interesting option.

The brand new adapter consists of two wireless USB "dongles".  One, of course, you connect to your computer, the other you attach to the USB device.  One of the most beneficial aspects of the setup is that you can move all of your USB dependent devices, such as external hard drives, printers, CD/DVD writers, and more up to thirty feet away (onto a shelf for example) to help keep your workspace less cluttered. The downside to this is that most USB devices still require a power source, which means you’ll still have to worry about a power outlet connection. One important aspect to mention with the wireless USB dongle kit is that you don’t need to buy a dongle for each device, which would render the solution unsuitable for recommendation.  You can connect the dongle to your current USB hub and plug all your other USB devices into the hub to make it almost like a wireless router, for USB ports.

Costing anywhere from $79 to $99 the wireless USB dongle is a positive look towards the future of wireless hardware.  It’s a handy item to pick up if you’re finding yourself with a cluttered workspace. At an affordable price, the adapter may become a must-have in the future for tech enthusiasts using the latest gadgets.

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Nanovision MIMO 7-inch USB MonitorWe’ve covered USB monitors here before with the ASUS UFOTO UF735 and Century Japan’s 4.3” monitor.  What makes the Nanovision MIMO series LCD monitors different is the display’s feature-set.  The 7” Nanovisions MIMO display is available in models that include touch-screen support, a 1.3MP webcam, and microphone and headphone jacks.

USB monitors are usually purchased for a specific secondary monitor purpose, such as being able to check your screen content from a location other than directly in front of your main display.  The MIMO monitors are also a great way to dedicate space to applications that normally can clutter your desktop. Think of some applications that you mostly use at a glance, like an instant messenger, weather monitoring, movies or music playing, a video conference, and much more.

The monitor uses the USB connection as the power source, which therefore requires one less cable.  Starting with UM-710 model, the 700 series is around $129 dollars, which is quite affordable. Supporting an 800×480 resolution, the MIMO can be viewed in many different display modes such as mirror, extended display, and landscape or portrait mode.
 

ASUS UFOTO UF735 USB LCD Monitor / Photo FrameDisplaylink USB video technology introduced the possibility of secondary USB monitors to the technology community.  ASUS has now successfully extended this technology to create a unique product, the ASUS UFOTO, which combines the functionality of a photo frame and a secondary monitor. It is a 7" monitor that allows a high resolution display of up to 800×400 pixels (720×480 viewing area).

It serves very well as a photo frame because as a standalone gadget, it is able to store over 700 photos with its in-built 128MB memory. The product features auto image rotation for vertical or horizontal placement. If the in-built memory is not enough, adding additional storage devices is also possible. The UFOTO supports CF/FD/MMC/MS/xD cards and an external USB flash drive. It can be plugged into an AC power source, or it can operate on its own, drawing power from its in-built rechargeable battery. It even allows photo searching by specific dates. Several  popular image formats are supported, including JPG (the most common), BMP, and GIF.

The UFOTO looks very elegant sitting on a desk or hanging on a wall. Left on its own, it is able to display a huge number of photos in a slideshow. To make the slideshow more interesting, it is also possible to play MP3 while the slideshow is displaying.

Similar to full-size LCD monitors, the UFOTO is also capable of adjusting its brightness according to the surrounding ambiance automatically. For example, when the surrounding light dims, the display adjusts itself until a comfortable level is attained. This is to ensure that the photos are always displayed in the best possible light.

The other primary function that the UFOTO serves is as a secondary LCD monitor. When plugged into the USB port of a desktop computer, the display can be synchronized to either look exactly like the parent monitor or display a totally different application altogether. This is useful for being able to see your screen from another location or running multiple applications concurrently without cluttering up monitor space.

For those who are concerned about the design of the unit, the ASUS UFOTO comes in three cool colors: star silver, blush pink, and sky blue. It has a shiny exterior casing, which makes the appearance highly compatible with Apple desktops and laptops.

Finally, note that the ASUS UFOTO is designed to be a simple piece of hardware. As the USB video technology is still in its infancy, do not expect the UFOTO to be able to display advanced 3D graphics. However, the technology at its current stage is ideal for displaying photos, playing music, or even watching videos. Available at a mere 06kg, the UFOTO is perhaps the smallest monitor around with this much functionality.

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Century 4.3 USB LCD MonitorCentury Japan has released a handy 4.3" USB LCD monitor.  The unit is designed as a secondary display with the extra functionality of a stand-alone photo frame.  Imagine you’ve been hard at work all day, but you’re expecting a specific email or IM.  You’re tired, and want to go sit in the recliner you have in the room.  Rather than having to pop up to your desk every time you hear your email/IM notification sound, just look over at the small LCD display sitting beside you.  That’s just one example of possibilities the monitor can offer.  The WVGA 800 x 480 display does not require a power supply because it is powered by the USB bus (one less cable).  Its brightness is rated at 200 cd/m3, and it uses LED backlighting.  The Century Japan LCD will be available for purchase in mid-November for about $199.

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USB NES Game ControllerHere at Gadget Advisor, we are big fans of the classic Nintendo games, such as Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario Bros series.  When you have played a certain gaming console more than any other, you get used to its controller.  For those most comfortable with the classic NES controller, the Compwnent USB Nintendo NES Controller is ideal for PC game-play.  We have used a similar solution from another company, but sadly, the controller developed a problem over time, and by then the company who sold it was no longer offering them.  Therefore, it’s great to see a new option for NES USB controllers.  The controllers are not being mass produced, though.  So, act fast.  As of now, the the NES controllers can be purchased for $33.

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Thermaltake Blacx HD DockThe Thermaltake Blacx Hard Drive Docking Station functions as an external hard drive enclosure, but with the brilliant benefit of being able to quickly and easily insert and eject the disk drive without having to get inside the hard drive enclosure.  The unit has many useful purposes for providing extra disk space anywhere needed.  We’re currently using it to provide extra disk space to a network media player.  It could also be used to move large data that will not fit on a USB flash drive between rooms, offices, etc.  The Blacx handles both desktop and notebook drives at sizes up to 1TB.  It also features hot swap support for drives.  The docking station is fully USB 2.0 complaint, to offer speeds as high as 480Mbps, and it works with both PCs and Macs.  The Thermaltake Blacx is very affordably priced at $39.99.

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We have reviewed numerous options in network media players, ranging back to the now defunct GoVideo D2730 Network DVD Player.  While every option has a shortcoming here and there, the DViCo TViX M-6500A Network Media Player is overall the best option we have thus far reviewed.  In addition to the network playback support from a PC or NAS, it also offers internal hard drive support for playback without any external source being powered on.  The new M-6500A features a black aluminum enclosure, Sigma’s latest SMP8635 processor, HDMI output, increased main memory, and more.

Formats supported for playback include WMV9, WMV-HD, DIVX, XVid, HDV, MKV, H.264, VOB (DVD layouts), ISO, MP3, WMA, FLAC, WavPack, PCM, DTS, and more.  Unfortunately, the player does not support WMV8.

DViCo M-6500A Network Media PlayerAnother beneficial feature of the TViX player is the bi-directional USB support.  That is, the unit can be connected to the PC to transfer files to and from the internal drive and external drives (USB slave) and USB flash drives can be connected as an additional source for video playback.  The latter is particularly useful for single-use content since users can simply copy a desired file onto a USB flash drive, connect it, and immediately play the video.  Both NTFS and FAT32 are supported for media file systems.

In addition to video, the player also offers music playback and image display.  All multimedia formats can be streamed via a LAN connection, played from the internal HDD, or accessed from an external USB device.

As for shortcomings, while the DViCo TViX M-6500A Network Media Player provides excellent overall format support, we have experienced playback trouble with some AVI videos.  The fact that high-definition formats and video content as fully supported (HD 1080i/720p/1080p Video output) is indeed a plus.  However, due to the player’s UI being specifically designed for hi-def display, if you have an older TV that does not support HD or does not support it well, the UI will be difficult to read.  Remember that having a LCD TV does not automatically mean that it is HD-ready.  In fact, we had to replace one of the test LCD TVs for this very reason.

The TViX M-6500A sells for about $399.  Note:  The TViX M-7000A model also exists.  However, it is not readily available in the US.  Also, feature-wise, it is almost idential to the M-6500A, while costing more and possessing a shape that does not fit well with most home theater systems.

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The PC Remote Controller II is a computer remote control that also functions as a mouse for the PC.  It features four programmable buttons that can be used to open software applications, and operates such multimedia software as Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, KMPlayer, TTPlay, WinDVD, and PowerDVD.  The unit seems particularly well suited for handling media and presentations.  The PC Remote Controller II is now available for $21.

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At the time of this writing, the Buffalo MiniStation Shinobi is the world’s smallest hard disk drive (not flash drive).  The drive has a thickness of only 5mm, and weighs a mere two ounces.  It features a stylish glossy black housing as well as TurboUSB technology, which delivers up to 20 percent faster transfer speeds than standard external drives.  The Buffalo MiniStation Shinobi is compatible with Windows and Mac PCs and is available in 30GB ($120) and 60GB ($170) capacity models.

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Transcend has announced a new, high-capacity USB flash drive that offers 64GB of storage space. The JetFlash V20 works with Windows Vista/XP/Me/2000 as well as Mac and Linux. The flash drive features a pearl-white finish, full high-speed USB 2.0 support, pocket-friendly edges, and free software (Website AutoLogin, PC-Lock, Mobile Favorites, Email, and Online Update).

 According to Transcend, the device will be affordable and offer solid performance. Pricing and availability for the new 64GB JetFlash V20 USB flash drive has not yet been announced, though.

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