For those of us relegated to economy class when we fly, there really aren’t very many options for recharging our portable electronic devices. Inflight Power is out to change that with their USB Power Unit that draws power from an airplane’s headphone jack.
The 12 ounce device works by storing energy from the headphone jack and relaying that energy to the USB connector. The device uses a trickle charger which takes 3-5 minutes to fully charge. Once charged, it holds enough energy to power a connected device for about one minute and then the cycle starts over again. Over 700 devices are supported with different tips that attach to the USB port.
This really would have come in handy during my flight to/from E3 last month, and its small size makes it perfect for tossing into one’s bag of gear.
The Power Unit is available for $34.99 USD, but odds are you’ll need some extra connectors as well. Inflight uses Gomadic’s TipExchange technology and for $54.99 USD you receive the Gomadic adapter, plus one tip of your choice. Additional tips sell for $6.99 USD.
It’s no secret that Microsoft wants to integrate PC and Xbox 360 users together when Vista debuts later this
decade. One step towards that goal is the integration of instant messaging between the two disparate platforms, and with the release of the Xbox 360 Live Vision Camera a short time ago, Microsoft is partway there. Keeping the momentum going, Microsoft is now releasing two new webcams aimed at the PC market, the VX-3000 and VX-6000 LifeCams.
The first two available webcams, the Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000 and Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000, bring a new dimension to Windows Live Messenger and feature exclusive industry firsts that streamline the webcam experience: • Windows Live Call Button. Located on the top of each LifeCam, the Windows Live Call Button makes placing a video call a breeze by eliminating the usual multiple steps. Just one touch brings up the Buddy Picker, a tool that shows users only current online buddies. They simply select their contact’s name and they are on their way to making a video call. • LifeCam Dashboard. Built right into the Windows Live Messenger window for easy access during video calling, the LifeCam Dashboard provides simple access to the controls people need most, including pan, tilt and zoom. Now users’ attention stays where it should be — on their video conversation. • One-touch blogging. Windows Live Spaces is one of the fastest-growing blog communities in the world, with more than 50 million individual Spaces. Now, users can post High Definition LifeCam pictures directly to their Windows Live Space blog with one click from within the LifeCam window. The new Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000 is a top-of-the-line wired webcam providing the highest quality still photography on the market (5.0 megapixels interpolated), High Definition video (1.3 megapixels)3 and 3x digital zoom. A 71-degree wide-angle lens allows enough room for up to three people to join in the conversation. The Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000 offers High Definition still photography (1.3 megapixels interpolated) and brilliant video (640x480 pixels). Both LifeCams feature a built-in acoustic noise-canceling microphone to ensure crystal-clear audio performance without adding clutter from extra headsets or external microphones. In addition, both new LifeCams come with fun Video Effects, such as falling snowflakes and twinkling stars, to personalize and enhance the background of video conversations. The LifeCams also have a Universal Attachment Base for easy and secure attachment to virtually any size monitor.
The webcams are available now with USD list prices of $99.95 (VX-6000) and $49.95 (VX-3000).
Pretec’s latest USB flash drive is their appropriately named i-Disk BulletProof, which is waterproof, fireproof, and you guessed it, bulletproof. While we’re not entirely sure that we want to have a need for such a rugged flash drive, it’s nice to know that our options are open.
[With] capacities ranging from 32MB to 2GB, [the] PRETEC i-Disk BulletProof is constructed with double layers of sealed protective metal, capable of preventing circuit damage from water, fire, and even shielding the heavy impact of a bullet, making i-Disk BulletProof the most rugged USB flash drive in the world. In addition to its ruggedness and small size, i-Disk BulletProof also features blazing access speed, up to 20MB/s. Pretec can also custom design a premium version of i-Disk BulletProof under special arrangement that can achieve a speed of 266X, up to 40MB/s, the highest speed of USB flash drive in the world.
No, we’re sure not sure what the little things on the side of the drive are either. They look vaguely like little ant skeletons, but the last time we checked, ants had their skeletons on the outside.
Playfeed has just posted a video of the Xbox Live Vision Camera in action during a game of UNO. Apparently, those with a camera enabled have their Gamer Picture replaced by their video feed - in this case, a dog wandering around the room. The Xbox Live Vision Camera will hit stores on September 19, 2006.
Read More | Playfeed
Gadget lovers everywhere were all a-twitter earlier this year when a variation of the OLED keyboard, conceived by Art Lebedev Studio, was announced that it would be entering production. Then we found out that there were only three keys, it would cost $100 when pre-ordered, and its OLED lighting had a lifespan of only 5,000 hours. Still, many people were not dissuaded and pre-ordered a Mini Three, with an expected ship date of May 15th.
Well, there are oftentimes issues with new hardware, and it turns out that the Minis have been delayed . . . a bit . . . as in three months. August 15th of this year is the new ship date for just about everywhere but Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Lithuania. Those poor souls have to wait until September 1st, which is a bit strange since Art Lebedev Studio’s main office is located in Russia.
What’s the cause of the delay? Here’s a quick rundown straight from Art Lebedev Studio:
• Development and production have been relocated from continental China to Taiwan - a region that’s superior to China in terms of the electronics industry development.
• Components and materials of the highest quality produced in Taiwan and South Korea are used. The development and production quality are supervised by Art Lebedev Studio specialists.
• OLED screens brightness control function has been added.
• Lifetime of OLED screens has grown to 8,000 hours of continuous use.
• Buttons’ lifetime is now 100,000 pushes.
So, for an extra few months worth of waiting, you get a longer lifespan, better quality, and an extra feature. Not too bad, but now it’s time for the other shoe to drop.
For those of you who thought that the pre-order price of $100 was way too much, then you’d better skip to the next article now. Go on, you don’t want to look. Okay, now that those with weak stomachs are gone, the new price for the same three buttons (albeit upgraded) is $160 USD. Of course, people who ordered prior to the original deadline aren’t required to pay anything extra, and people who pre-order prior to the new deadline of August 1st only need pay approximately $121 USD. This is a rare case where being an early adopter paid off . . . kinda.
Read More | Art Lebedev Studio
PQI has recently announced the world’s slimmest flash drive in the U510. At 3mm thick, this new drive is literally the size and thickness of a credit card. While some people might think that the reduction in physical size correlates to a reduction in storage size, this is not correct - the U510 comes with a whopping 16GB of storage space. Also built into the card is a retractable USB connector. This device is both USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 compatible and works with either Windows or Mac computers. The U510 is available in three color schemes - Iron Gray, Metallic Silver, and a World Cup print. It seems that everyone is attempting to get in on the World Cup with some device that features a World Cup color scheme. No pricing or release date has been set, but we look forward to seeing this little device.
Plextor has just announced the availability of their new PX-SP portable hard drives which are supposedly shock proof. A new silicon cover prevents the drive from crashing and losing data if dropped. The new drives come in 80GB (PX-SP08U), and 120GB (PX-SP12U) sizes, and are said to support Windows and Mac operating systems, but our guess is that they should also work under Linux. A quick start guide, USB cable, and the silicon jacket are included with purchase. While we have our doubts on how well a silicon jacket will protect a drive from the shock of being dropped, it is nice to see some new ideas from Plextor. Expect to pay more for the added protection, the drives retail for $169 (80GB) and $260 (120GB).
“Plextor is rapidly expanding its data storage product line to include innovative devices such as the new PX-SP shock proof portable hard drives,” said Michael Arbisi, Vice President, Channel Sales for Plextor, in a statement. “Our goal is to give customers a wide range of options for dependably and securely storing their valuable data, whether at home or at the office. Like all Plextor products, the PX-SP Series drives are designed and manufactured to the highest levels of quality and reliability.”
Read More | Plextor
We have been waiting for months on end to hear about an EVDO solution for the new Intel Core Duo portable computers. Finally, word is making rounds that Novatel is going to be the first to market with the goods. First up is their USB 720 EVDO modem from Sprint, aimed at both Windows and Mac OS X users. Interesting to note here, you can either plug in the USB modem directly into your notebook’s USB port, or you can connect it to a USB cord. The thought process here is that by placing the modem 12 inches away from your computer, you get less interference, and a signal that is increased by as much as 3 decibels - and it will perform better than embedded or card-style EVDO devices. What’s more, the Sprint USB720 is a Rev. A EVDO device, so if you have a need for speed, this is the device you want.
We are going to keep an eye on this one. Expect it to hit the market in Fall 2006.
Read More | EVDOInfo
Toshiba has announced that they will bundle a cute fish shaped MP3 player with their new Dynabook CX notebook.’ The device plays both MP3 and WMA files, but is currently unable to play WMA files with DRM.’ Under the tail fin of the fish hides a USB 2.0 connector and the belly of the fish hides a LCD panel.’ Also hidden under the belly of the fish are the play, pause, track skip, and volume controls.’ This device sports 512MB of memory, and can double as a flash drive.’ A lithium ion battery powers the fish, and recharges through the USB port.’ Unfortunately this bundle is only available in Japan.’ Although I don’t think you could pay me enough money to be seen sporting the fish.
Read More | NewLaunches
The largest flash drives available to the average consumer is 16GB in capacity and requires you to sell an arm to afford (MSRP $1,499). It seems as though BUSlink may have upped the ante as they have a 64GB USB flash drive clearly pictured on their website. To quote from BUSlink’s website - “BUSLink was first to introduce the 8GB and 16GB flash drive to the world, now we’re proud to introduce the first 32GB and 64GB flash drive ever.” If it is for real, then be prepared to sell off your spare kidney to be able to afford one. Of course, it could also be that someone at BUSlink gets their jollies by watching the collective geek world drool in lust.
On a side note, you’d think they could find a nicer looking car key to attach to such an expensive flash drive.