January 30, 2009

Freakin' Friday! - eneloop Batteries


Almost every gadget we have runs on batteries. It's really frustrating when you are in the middle of an interview and your recorder goes dead or you are at a concert and are cut off in mid-song. About a year ago we purchased some Sanyo eneloops, one of the greatest inventions in history. (We are not all that fond of sliced bread.) Not only do they come pre-charged, they hold their charge even when not in use.


During that year, we have recharged twice, and only because we figured they had to be running down. We also received, via rebate, free C and D adapters, for those times when you need that flashlight. If you are looking for batteries won't destroy the environment, can be recharged up to 1,000 times without affecting memory and can withstand extreme temperatures, eneloops are like a gift from God Sanyo for less than $20.00.

Via eneloop Batteries

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 22, 2007

Hands on with the GMG TVisto Pro 3500 Media Streamer


We have had the TVisto Pro 3500 in our office for a couple of weeks now and we have finally finished our hands on review. We had initially reviewed the product and thought it was a great sounding new device. The marketing surrounding it had all the right buzzwords and we were very excited to to get our hands on it. We have been playing with it for some time now and we have put it through our testing and come up with a review. Click on to read what we thought of the TVisto Pro 3500.
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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

November 1, 2007

Review: Elgato Turbo.264 - Video H.264 MP4 Encoder Hardware

We recently purchased the Elgato Turbo.264 - Video H.264 (MP4) Encoder Hardware because we have an older ailing mac-mini that takes forever when encoding anything for our iPhone or Apple TV. The Elgato Turbo.264 - Video H.264 (MP4) Encoder Hardware comes with software and a hardware dongle that plugs into your USB port. The hardware dongle basically has a processor that takes over the encoding of the video from the main processor - and from our tests it works.

You use the included software to convert your Mac videos one at a time or in a batch. The software application that comes with Elgato Turbo.264 offers an easy-to-use choice of five presets: iPod High, iPod Standard, Sony PSP, Apple TV, and iPhone. Turbo.264 converts standard definition television recordings without scaling so that recordings appear on Apple TV in the same resolution they were recorded.
You can adjust size, aspect ratio, overscan, frame rate, data rate, and AAC audio by creating custom settings. This enables you to:

  • convert widescreen DVD (VIDEO_TS) video files without black bars.
  • tweak video resolution and frame rate;
  • adjust the video settings so it plays on your smartphone;
  • pick the audio track you wish to go with the main feature when converting VIDEO_TS folders.
  • Turbo.264 supports 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios as well as widescreen content.

What used to take over 3+ hours on our older 1ghz Mac-Mini takes a little over an hour now. We love the size of the item, and also the software is drag and drop. If you have a ton of AVI or other formats you want converted, you simply drag them into the encoder software window and pick the output formats you want. The completed encoded movies not only look great, but also get added to iTunes automatically.

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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 25, 2007

Review: Rocketfish - Wireless Multimedia Bluetooth Keyboard and Laser Mouse

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We've been using the Best Buy in-house brand Rocketfish Wireless Multimedia Bluetooth Keyboard and Laser Mouse over the past few days, and think this is a pretty amazing product. At $99, the Rocketfishâ„¢ - Wireless Multimedia Bluetooth Keyboard and Laser Mouse is perfect for using with a large screen TV because of the Bluetooth wireless media functions, and dedicated media player controls on the keyboard and mouse. It's also really solid when paired with our Dell XPS laptop on a stand. What we really like is the fact our laptop didn't have Bluetooth, but now it does - which allows for faxing - wireless headphone use and other neat Bluetooth networking features.

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Comes packed in a combo box that includes the Bluetooth dongle,
mouse, and keyboard - all wireless.

Product Features

  • Up to 60' wireless range
  • 104 keys and 10 one-touch multimedia keys let you conveniently work, surf the Web, or control digital media
  • Laser mouse features 4-way scrolling, 4 multimedia keys and ergonomic rubber side supports for quality functionality and comfort
  • Acts as a Bluetooth hub, so you can transfer digital media to and from your computer or Bluetooth device (Bluetooth adapter included)
  • Includes USB Bluetooth adapter, CD driver, User manual, 4 AA batteries (2 for keyboard; 2 for mouse)
  • PC compatible
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Jay Brewer at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 12, 2007

Review: Hands on with the Rocketfish Wireless Rear Speaker Kit


One of the things we always have a problem with is how to get rear speakers in our main living area without having to run cables under rugs or all over the walls to make it behind the couch. Well Rocketfish has come out with a great product with their Wireless Rear Speaker Kit.

The concept is simple enough, have one unit hook into your rear speaker slots and beam the audio to a receiving box that his hooked up to the actual rear speakers. While the concept is simple it is the execution that gives so many companies problems. You not only have to have a strong signal that can be received at a a good distance, but you have to maintain the audio fidelity as much as possible. We have heard other wireless systems that got the job done, but the sound produced by your speakers sounded tinny or hollow.

With this system we got very nice sound out of our rear speakers as we blasted a few of our favorite movies out over our stereo. We were greeted with nice subtle sounds coming from either side of us. We never heard any drop outs and the sound was as true as if we had the speakers plugged directly into the receiver.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 10, 2007

Review: Hands on with the Sonos BU130 Digital Wireless Music System Bundle


OK so we have had our hands on our review unit (the new Sonos BU130 Digital Music System Bundle to be exact) of the Sonos for awhile now, and we had promised a hands on review, so here it goes. We expected to get a great system to try out, we'll admit it. We had been reading and writing about it for awhile now, but we have to honestly say that we were blown away by what we found.

The Sonos BU130 Digital Music System Bundle evaluation kit contained the main base station, a satellite station and the super cool full color remote. The hook up was as simple as you can get. Plug the base station into the wall, the stereo, and our network. That has to be the simplest install we have ever done. There was basically nothing left for us to do in order to play back music.

We grabbed the remote and dove into the possibilities. The menu system is similar in style to that of the iPod in that you have a scroll wheel with a main input button in the middle. So off we start to tell it where our music collection is located. We see the standard, 'system settings' so we click on that. Next we see, "Music Library Management' which seems like an obvious next step for us. The next screen shows us this option, "Music Library Setup". Clicking on that option resulted in our first jaw drop of the day. The one entry on the list of shared folders was our NAS servers music folder.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

May 30, 2007

MvixUSA 760-HD Wireless Media Center Hands on Review


Well we have had some time to play around with our shiny new 760HD and we can only say, WOW! Sure its not the most creative description of our thoughts, but we were so blown away with everything this thing can do that we are left speechless.

We were expecting the typical streaming device that worked, but left us with that, meh, feeling. From the minute we plugged this sucker in we knew that there was more to this then just your run of the mill device. We had been reading up on and writing about the 760 for awhile now so we had a basic understanding of what it should be able to do, but we were excited to see how well it actually did them.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

April 14, 2007

Slingbox Pro Review


The Slingbox by SlingMedia has been around for awhile and it has really proven to be a great little device. When we first read about the Slingbox we have to admit that we smiled and thought that this would fail in a matter of months. Well boy were we wrong. Not only has the Slingbox not failed, but it has thrived.

Targeted to those with fast home connections and the desire to watch their TV anywhere else in the world the Slingbox has become the perfect companion. For those not in the know the Slingbox hooks up to your DVR, cable box or whatever you have that is grabbing TV off the airwaves and, via a computer in your house that has a fast internet connection, will allow you then to watch it from anywhere else.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 2, 2007

Review of MythTV


For those of you with some technical know-how and that are looking for a product that not only does it all, but does it all and then some, you should think about MythTV. MythTV is an open source software package that can do just about anything with your home media. It can act as a PVR, video viewer, photo viewer, mp3 player, game emulator, RSS feed reader, weather viewer, and a dvd player. And if it can't do something you want, odds are someone has already written a plug in to do it.

The reason we say that you need some technical know-how is that this is a Linux based software package, and the installation, depending on which flavor of Linux you install on, can be challenging. We played around with this about 3 years ago and then again just a few weeks ago and the improvements blew us away. First off the install is fairly simple now following a pretty standard install script that most computer users have seen before. The interface is very smooth and responsive and the themes that come bundled are gorgeous.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 23, 2007

First Impressions: AppleTV


We received our new AppleTV today and we set about our usual routine of ripping the box open as fast as we can and racing over to our entertainment center to hook it up. Once we opened the box we had two immediate thoughts: first, I can't believe they shipped this thing with that puny little remote. Sure we knew that was coming, but we were just hoping that they would have come to their senses and given us something with slightly more functionality. Our second shock was that the only cables that shipped with the box were the power cables. No ethernet, HDMI, or any other cable that you could use with it. We didn't think it much to send at least one! Let us hook the damn thing up right away. Don't make us hunt for cables.

After the initial shock wore off we slowly walked over to our media center, plugged it in and hooked it up to our network and to our HDTV via HDMI cable. Once it booted up we were given a code that we had to enter into iTunes. Once that is done the unit is 'paired' up with the iTunes server. We then can either copy files to the device or tell it which files in our iTunes library it should play.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 27, 2007

Review of the Slimdevices SqueezeBox

Slimdevices latest consumer level network music device brings hi-fidelity to the masses. SlimDevices has been around for a number of years and has been one of the first companies to offer not just streaming music for the home, but hi quality streaming music. The company is founded by a group of audio enthusiasts that wanted nothing more than to be able to play music anywhere in their house and make it sound great. Their first line of products was the Squeezebox, a sub 300 dollar network attached music player that combinded hi quality audio with stylish design. What seperated this devices from others in the same space, was that the Squeezebox was one of the first to be aimed at the audiophile crowd with its hi end DAC processor. Now with version 3 they have stepped it up yet again. They redefined the look of the unit to something most people believe is stunning( us included ). They have further improved the internals making it the best sounding Squeezebox to date and they have updated the software that runs it. ArrowContinue reading: "Review of the Slimdevices SqueezeBox"

David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 26, 2007

The Linksys WMB54G music bridge

Here is a nice little device from linksys that streams music from your computer to your stereo, wirelessly. It uses 80211.g so it has the speed to stream any digital audio you can throw at it and its very small form factor allows it to be tucked away just about anywhere.

One of the things we like about this product right off the bat is that it lets you play anything and we mean anything, since it is just passing music along to your stereo it doesn't have to worry about DRM or any of that nonsense. It doesn't actually deal with the content itself it just sends it over the air. The one major downside of this product seems to be the setup.

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David Ficocello at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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