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Storm Jacket keeps your gear nice and dry.

August 6th, 2008 by James in A/V Devices, Miscellaneous Reviews

Storm Jacket 1

There are many accessories for a camera that are considered must haves. The extra set of batteries, the backup memory card, a Skylight filter for protection, a tripod and even a long range flash for those zoom shots in low light. But if you told me that I’d make the Storm Jacket one of those must have things for the camera bag should the weather go south, I’d look at you like you grew a third head. A raincoat for a camera? But it makes perfect sense.

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LapDome gives your laptop a home away from home

August 6th, 2008 by James in Miscellaneous Reviews

Lapdome

Computing outside can be a real pain in the thumb drive. The ambient light blaring up against that LCD screen can make it darn hard to see. Sure, you can try using a bellows, or even some sort of screen shade, but as the light shifts throughout the day, sooner or later you’re going to find yourself playing cat and mouse trying to see, unless you bury your head inside the bellows and then it’s darn near impossible to read, much less type like that.

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BACTrack personal breathalyzer review

July 31st, 2008 by Marc in Health /Fitness, Miscellaneous Reviews

0019as This was an interesting review to write – there are only a limited number of things you can do to review  a breathalyzer and I don’t have access to sophisticated test equipment. So when it came to the operational review I had to resort to the “manual” approach with the aid of Mr Jack Daniels. Ahh, the things we do for science!

Before we get to that though, a quick overview. The BACTrack is designed to detect the presence (and amount) of alcohol flowing around your bloodstream. The value it gives is in the form of a Blood Alcohol Concentration (or BAC)%. It does this by measuring a sample of your breath.

Even a small BAC% can impair reaction times and judgement (try playing a video game after you’ve had a few beers if you don’t believe this) but the real danger is that you may feel OK to drive “the morning after the night before”, whilst still having a level of alcohol present in your system.

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Ripping Vinyl is easy with Ion Turntables

July 29th, 2008 by James in A/V Devices, iPod Devices

LP Dock

The Ion Audio ITTUSB turntable let’s your mom and dad’s old vinyl albums to your PC and hear what they were groovin’ to during the Summer of Love. Now sure, this unit has been around for awhile, but Ion has turned things up to eleven with some very notable improvements. First off, they’ve added two additional models which bypass the PC altogether and allow users to rip directly to either their iPod or burn straight to CD. That’s an awesome feature that’ll make it easy as pie for the convenience oriented consumer just lookin’ to preserve their old favorites without having to shell out an additional $20 for CD or $10 for downloads.

Those who don’t mind the nostalgia that comes with the cracks and pops of playing the album while capturing can look to the LP Dock or the LP 2 CD models for convenient digital transfer. However, those audio obsessed who wish to clean up the recording and play “sound engineer” can simply get the ITTUSB model and capture the album all at once using the included open source software called Audacity. Audacity does take some getting used to, however, and is not for the weak of heart. It’s open source development make it free to use (you can download it on the Internet), but the learning curve may be steep for the “blinking VCR crowd.” Still, the journey will be worth taking and your patience will be rewarded as you learn to clean up those old albums and restore them to practically new but in a more updated digital format.

Thankfully, Ion also includes some notable utilities that can make the process more automatic and streamlined. EZ Vinyl Converter 2 for PC (EZVC2) and EZ Audio Converter for Mac (EZAC); the best way to record and convert vinyl directly to iTunes. EZVC2 features Gracenote® MusicID technology, which analyzes your vinyl and automatically retrieves album, artist and song information for you. EZAC also lets you easily enter track information.

The Ion Turntables are completely plug and play and you can pick up a refurbished model for under $100. The LP Dock and the LP2CD models, however, will run you a bit more, around $250 for the iPod model and $400 for the LP2CD (which isn’t bad considering it has a CD burner built in).

Is it easy to use? Absolutely. Especially the LPDock and LP2CD which will rip and record directly to digital with no worries of connection or humming issues. And when you consider the cost of replacing all those LP3 to CD or even MP3 download, the investment is more than worth it. And considering that many classic albums (like those recorded in 78 RPM) simply aren’t available in a more current format (like those Japanese bootlegs you have hidden), the ability to rip those old albums to mp3 become even more important.

Consider investing in these, and it’s sister product the Tape2PC – which will rip cassettes to mp3 tracks as well.

Too bad there isn’t an 8Track2PC available. I’ve got hundreds of cartridges just waiting to be digitized!

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Rip Cassettes to MP3 with Ion’s Tape 2 PC

July 29th, 2008 by James in A/V Devices, iPod Devices

Tape2PC

If there’s one tech company that completely “gets” the whole fair use thing, it’s Ion Audio. First they came out with the ITTUSB turntable which allows users to rip old vinyl albums (what are those?) to mp3 and now they have done with same thing for cassette tapes thanks to Tape 2 PC.

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For an entry level DSLR, the Canon Rebel XSi runs on all cylinders

July 3rd, 2008 by James in Photography

Canon XSi

As a kid, I remember my brother always working on his hot rod. He wasn’t a racer, per se. In fact, he had just gotten into the sport. But he wanted to look the part, feel the part, and even get some results on the weekend drag strip. And as such, he spent a lot of time at the local “speed shop” getting the parts he needed to trick out his rod. My other brother was the opposite. He hated working on cars in his spare time because as a mechanic, he did it for a living. As such, he went with a fast car that came that way straight off the showroom floor. The Canon Digital Rebel XSi is like that all in one solution. Packs a punch where it counts, has just enough features to get you into the game, and can grow with you.

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Review of the Panasonic SDR-SW20

July 3rd, 2008 by James in A/V Devices

SW20

The Panasonic SDR-SW20 may be compact. And with the ability to record straight to SD cards, it may be even easier to use. But one thing is isn’t, is a quality camcorder experience. In fact, it’s downright average.
What’s really a shame is that while the SDR-SW20 incorporates cool features like Dolby stereo and wide angle video, the quality of the image is so blah that one walks away feeling like those features are wasted. That instead of getting a better experience, you end up with simply more average. More “gray.”

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EasySing MK 8131

June 4th, 2008 by Sam in Miscellaneous Reviews

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As a complete Karaoke virgin, myself and 3 girlfriends spent a night in with the EasySing Karaoke Microphone – a neat and compact Karaoke machine that comes with 2 professional microphones (one wired, one wireless) 200 pre-loaded songs, a song binder, carry case and USB cables.

With some trepidation (and a health warning issued to anyone within earshot), we started our little sing song. After a fairly quiet start, we all found ourselves browsing the well ranging song list to find something we could sing next – or get someone else to sing. Due to a second wireless microphone, duets were also an option.

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Give the Unexpected


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