Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Patriot’s New Bolt USB flash drive series offers 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption

Patriot’s New Bolt USB flash drive series offers 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption

Fast and affordable hardware encrypted solution


Fremont, California, USA, March 30, 2010 - Patriot Memory, a global pioneer in high-performance memory, NAND flash and computer technology , today announced the immediate availability of its new Bolt secure USB flash drive. This small USB flash drive offers security for your data with its durable aluminum housing and data encryption.
Patriot’s Bolt series features hardware based 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with a 512/2048-bit RSA engine for user authentication. Designed for consumer and small to medium-size business users, Patriot’s Bolt Series comes in a durable, yet compact metal casing. 256-bit AES hardware based encryption is widely recognized as a standard for data privacy, and with this feature built into the Bolt, users are comforted with the knowledge that their data is secure even from attempts to dismantle the drive to gain access to individual NAND flash chips.
“USB flash drives are a staple of daily use to transfer and transport data. Their small size and large capacities allow users to carry a great amount of personal information with them,” declared Les Henry, Vice President of Engineering at Patriot. “Our Bolt USB flash drive secures data from prying eyes, preventing the loss of personal or business data and providing users with reassurance that their portable data is safe and secure wherever they take it.”
With both a durable aluminum housing and a built in password lock, on top of the hardware based encryption, personal data is secure from abuse, damage and unauthorized access. Patriot’s new Bolt USB flash drive incorporates a data wipe mode where all data on the drive is erased in the event of unsuccessful access to the drive after 10 failed attempts. Beyond data security, Bolt offers fast read and write speeds of up to 30MB/s read and 12MB/s write, besting similar devices in the secure USB flash drive segment. The Patriot Bolt is offered in capacities from 4GB to 64GB ,carries a 5 year warranty, and is available immediately from Patriot’s authorized partners worldwide.

For more information about Patriot’s products and solutions, please contact your Patriot Sales Representative or visit http://www.patriotmemory.com/.About Patriot Memory:
Patriot Memory designs, manufactures and markets high performance, enthusiast memory modules, flash products, and computing technologies. Patriot products have become world renown for their extreme performance, reliability and innovation. Patriot Memory sells its products through original equipment manufacturers , retailers, e-tailers and distributors throughout the world with operations in North America, Asia and Europe. Patriot Memory’s parent company, PDP Systems, Inc., was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in Fremont, California, USA.

All company and/or product names may be trade names, trademarks and/or registered trademarks of the respective owners with which they are associated. Features, pricing, availability, and specifications are subject to change without notice.


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Sunday, March 28, 2010

New NHT Absolute Tower Announced




NHT MAKES AN “ABSOLUTE” RETURN TO PRODUCT DESIGN
WITH THE NEW ABSOLUTE TOWER SPEAKER

-- Absolute Tower is Company’s First New Model in Four Years --

BENICIA, CA, March 16, 2010 – NHT today announced that, following a year of steady growth, the company will soon ship the Absolute Tower, a tower version of the best selling Classic mini-monitor, the Absolute Zero.

Building on the acclaimed sonic and aesthetic design of the Absolute Zero, the new Absolute Tower adds "another way" to the two-way Zero to produce a three-way, four-driver acoustic suspension design that extends dynamics and low frequency response beyond what is expected of speakers at this size or price.

“Not only is the Absolute Tower our first product of the decade,” commented Chris Byrne, NHT’s Co-Founder and Co-Owner. “For us, it represents unfinished business, too.”

Continued Byrne: “The Super Zero and the Absolute Zero, which was the SZ’s successor, are hands down our most successful products. To this day, we still get tons of messages from end-users who say that the Zero models are their favorites.

“We also receive a steady stream of requests for an affordable tower loudspeaker, so it made sense to us to combine the two concepts into one unbeatable model. Anybody who loves great audio will appreciate the way this tower matches the Absolute Zero and Absolute Center to create a seamless, highly affordable music and home theater system."

The Absolute Tower is a sleek, floor-standing three-way speaker that joins the Absolute Zero’s 1” aluminum dome tweeter and 5.25” polypropylene cone midrange with two (2) 5.25” woofers. Its acoustic suspension design presents music and movie soundtracks with the clarity, neutrality and substantial power-handling that are typical of the brand’s most revered models. Like all NHT Classic Models, the Absolute Tower features NHT’s luxurious 10-coat gloss-black finish.

Each Absolute Tower measures 36”H x 5.7”W x 7.25”D, and weighs 40 lbs. The base measures 10.63” W x 12” D.

Although usable in-room response is 43Hz (-6dB), the frequency response is rated at 58Hz – 20kHz, with impedance rated at 8 ohms average, 4 ohms minimum. Sensitivity is 86dB.

The NHT Absolute Tower will be available on April 1 (no fooling) at an introductory special price of $495 each (including a complementary matching Absolute Center channel speaker with the purchase of two or more towers) through NHT’s on line store as well as select retailers.

Additional information regarding availability can be found at www.nhthifi.com


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Friday, March 26, 2010

Vibe Audio CBR 12 Evo Loaded Car Subwoofer Review


I enjoy innovative electronics. Innovations do not occur very often in speakers. At least changes do not happen as often or as fast as with electronics, such as surround sound receivers. But they do happen. Up for review is a loaded car subwoofer box from Vibe, their CBR Evo 12.

The subwoofer is a 12" aluminum cone long throw driver in an innovative enclosure. The box design is one I have seen in the home audio environment. But I do not recall seeing a similar design in the car audio environment. The design features dual ports with port plugs, such as with SVS home subwoofers. For maximum SPL, you can keep both ports open. Or you can opt for a sealed design and plug in both of the port plugs.

I love the design. It gives the user a lot of flexibility. If you are not sure if you want a sealed or a ported design, there is no need to buy separate boxes and switch out your subwoofer. In fact, you can even make changes on the fly. With the design, it is very easy to change the sound to your liking, in less than 10 seconds.

The rest of the box is very solidly built, made with MDF and tuned for the lowest bass possible within the woofer's specs. The box is tuned to 45hz ported or 35hz sealed. The ARBSS (Anti Resonant Bass Support System) protective rubber gasket edges on the outside allows for issolation between the box and vehicle floor for less rattle or distortion from the vehicle, and the 4 gripper feet on ARBSS help keep it from moving around. The box is very solidly built, and appears to be able to handle the wattage printed on the box itself. The enclosure showed it can handle 1000 watts RMS, and 3000 peak watts. The enclosure is also fairly small with measurements of 14.6" tall by 20.3 inches wide by 16.3 inches deep, and built in handles for easy handling.

The subwoofer itself is very well built, and very solid. It features a 3mm aluminum cone with aluminum voice coil former that acts as a built in radiator to dissipate heat from the voice coil. The surround is a multi layer heavy foam surround for cone speed and excursion control. The drivers are available in 12" and 15" sizes, and in 2ohm or 4ohms, in a high performance machine cast alluminum basket.

So we know the build quality of the box and the sub are good. But it was not designed to just look good. So how does it sound? I can tell you that I was impressed. It seemed to live up to it's specs, and outpaced my Kenwood amp which managed to shut down a couple of times. And that was with my amp putting out 1200 watts RMS.

The reference system I used consisted of a Kenwood Excelon KDC-X991 deck, Kenwood Excelon XR-S17P 6.5 inch components up front, and Rockford Fosgate Fanatic HPC1206U 6.5 inch coaxials in the back. A Rockford Fosgate P4004 powered the component and coaxial speakers, and a Kenwood X1200M Class D monoblock powered the Space driver. I threw an arsenal at it, from "Toccatta" in Fresh Aire III, to Justin Timberlake's "Bring Sexy Back" to "Lover Come Back to Me" in Dead or Alive's Album Rip It Up. It stood up to my barrage of music fairly well. And I really liked to be able to pull the port plugs, or toss them back in depending on the music. "Toccatta" from Fresh Aire III was clean, and very musical. The natural air suspension of a sealed enclosure when using the port plugs seemed to help with the quick beats of Dead or Alive's "Lover Come Back to Me." Pulling the plugs again yielded more output, but slightly muddied the sound of the quick beats. For a 12 inch aluminum cone driver it kept up pretty well, moving a lot of air with no flex from the stiff cone. Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" sounded great with lots of punch both plugged or unplugged. As I cranked up the volume the Vibe Space driver just seemed to ask for more, bringing a smile to my face. If you can't tell, I really liked the option of the port plugs. I could have both a sealed enclosure that came out a little more musical and a little more accurate, or have the port plugs open for higher output. But either choice yielded excellent dynamics. Throwing some test tones at it confirmed the boxes tuning. While there was usable output down to 20hz, there was steep rolloff at the tuning frequency.

When it comes to subwoofer and enclosure design, there are always compromises. It appears that the right decisions were made. The Space 12 is a solid driver, and the enclosure is well made. A larger enclosure would have yielded deeper extension. But this enclosure is small enough to mover around and let you have some trunk space, and sound good at the same time. Good job, Vibe. If you are looking for a good sub, Vibe deserves some attention. It sounded great with all types of music. These Brits have some skill. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.vibecaraudio.com.


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

HTC Announces First 3G/4G Android Phone HTC Evo 4G




HTC EVO 4G offers one of the most robust multimedia experiences

on a wireless phone today; features Android™ 2.1, one of the industry’s largest touch-screen displays, 8.0 MP camera, HD video capture, HDMI output, Mobile Hotspot capability and HTC Sense™


Pre-registration begins today at www.sprint.com/evo


LAS VEGAS – March 23, 2010 – Sprint (NYSE: S) and HTC Corporation today announced summer availability of the world’s first 3G/4G Android handset, HTC EVO 4G exclusively from Sprint. HTC EVO 4G delivers a multimedia experience at 4G speeds that is second to none, making it possible to download music, pictures, files, or videos in seconds – not minutes – and watch streaming video on the go with one of the largest pinch-to-zoom displays, at 4.3 inches, in the wireless industry.


Sprint 4G offers a faster wireless experience than any other U.S. national wireless carrier, and Sprint is the only national carrier offering wireless 4G service today in 27 markets. Sprint 4G delivers download speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G1, giving HTC EVO 4G the fastest data speeds of any U.S. wireless device available today.


"Sprint continues to lead the 4G revolution as we introduce HTC EVO 4G to give our customers an experience that is unlike anything available in wireless to date," said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. "Not only is this feature-rich device incredible on our Sprint 3G network, but Sprint 4G speeds will take mobile multimedia, including live video streaming, gaming and picture downloads, to a whole new level.”


Customers will be able to purchase HTC EVO 4G through all Sprint channels and through national retail partners, RadioShack, Best Buy and Walmart, this summer. Pricing will be announced at a later date. Pre-registration begins today at www.sprint.com/evo.


A device beyond compare
HTC EVO 4G delivers a robust list of features, including a 1GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor ensuring a smooth and quick user experience. With dual cameras – an 8.0 megapixel auto-focus camera with HD-capable video camcorder and a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera – HTC EVO 4G unleashes the ability to create, stream and watch video that far surpasses expectations of what is possible on a phone today.


With built-in mobile hotspot functionality, HTC EVO 4G allows up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices to share the 4G experience. Users can easily share an Internet connection on the go with a laptop, camera, music player, game unit, video player, or any other Wi-Fi enabled device.



With integrated HD video capture and 4G speeds, HTC EVO 4G makes slow uploads and grainy video a thing of the past. Now, it is possible to post high-quality video to YouTube™ or Facebook, or share moments in real time over the Internet live, via Qik. After these videos have been captured, it is easy to share them on an HDTV via an HDMI cable (sold separately).


The custom Web browser is optimized for HTC EVO 4G’s large display and Sprint 4G speeds to deliver a full, no-compromise Internet experience. Adobe Flash technology ensures that rich Internet content, such as embedded video and animation, are displayed the way they are meant to be seen. Pinch-to-zoom and automatic text reflowing provide easy Web page views.


HTC EVO 4G features the newest version of the highly acclaimed HTC Sense user experience. Along with all of the HTC Sense features first introduced on HTC Hero, HTC EVO 4G adds a number of new features, including Friend Stream, which aggregates multiple social communication channels including Facebook and Twitter™ into one organized flow of updates; a “Leap” thumbnail view to easily switch between home screen “panels;” the ability to download new, interactive widgets; and a “polite” ringer, which quiets the ringing phone once lifted up.


“HTC and Sprint have a strong history of working together to bring consumers technologies and advancements that make their lives easier,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. “We believe that the HTC EVO 4G represents the best of Sprint and the best of HTC working together to bring an unmatched device to the U.S. This combination of HTC and Sprint innovation will allow people to do even more while on the go, faster than ever on the Sprint 4G network.”


Experience Android at 4G
HTC EVO 4G, the world’s first 3G/4G Android handset, features the latest iteration of the increasingly popular Android platform. Leveraging the Android 2.1 platform, HTC EVO 4G can deliver a wide array of useful new features:

•Android 2.1 enables a new way to search with pictures instead of words. Google Goggles™ works with everything from books, DVDs and barcodes to landmarks, logos, artwork and even wine labels. A picture taken of the Golden Gate Bridge returns all of the information anyone would need to know about the structure. By just taking a picture of several restaurant options, HTC EVO 4G will provide restaurant reviews to ensure the best choice.
•Text messaging and email composition feature built-in voice-to-text technology. By simply pressing a microphone button on the screen, messages can be composed by just speaking, making keeping in touch faster and easier than ever.
•Through Android Market™, HTC EVO 4G users have access to thousands of useful applications, widgets and games to download and install on their phone, with many more to come.

In addition to today’s Android apps, the performance of which will be enhanced by 4G speed, application developers will be introducing new apps that take advantage of 4G power in new ways – games and communications tools and other apps that bring together video, presence and location simultaneously, and capabilities that haven’t yet been imagined. For example, an application developer might create an app that allows a customer to simultaneously watch a streaming sporting event while pulling down stats and conducting a video chat with a friend.

A Sprint 4G developer guide is available today from the Sprint ADP Web site http://developer.sprint.com. The Sprint 4G developer guide explains how to develop on an Android 2.1 handset and how to take advantage of 4G and unique hardware/software capabilities, including how to use a forward-facing camera in an app; how to use HDMI output; and how to build in network detection (3G, 4G or Wi-Fi) to optimize quality of data in an app. The Sprint 4G developer also will include sample apps and source code that highlight these features. It will supplement the Android 2.1 SDK. As a charter member of the Open Handset Alliance™, Sprint is actively engaged with the Android community. Sprint has employed an open Internet approach, and the Sprint Application Developer Program has been providing tools for third-party developers since Sprint first launched the Wireless Web on its phones in 2001.




“Sprint and HTC have come together to propel the Android platform into the 4G world with the introduction of HTC EVO 4G,” said Andy Rubin, vice president, mobile platforms at Google. “The Android platform was developed to give people unmatched mobile connectivity to the Internet. By combining this vision with the promise of Sprint’s first-to-market 4G technology, HTC EVO 4G makes accessing thousands of applications from Android Market, using Google™ services like Google Goggles, Google Earth™ and the all-new Gesture Search, or simply browsing the Web faster, easier and more enjoyable than ever before.”


Blazing trails with Sprint 4G
As the first national wireless carrier to test, launch and market 4G technology, Sprint made history by launching 4G in Baltimore in September 2008. Today, Sprint 4G covers more than 30 million people and expects to have up to 120 million people covered by the end of 2010.


Sprint currently offers 4G service in 27 markets, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., San Antonio and Seattle. Following is a comprehensive list of markets by state where Sprint 4G is currently offered: Georgia – Atlanta, Milledgeville; Hawaii – Honolulu, Maui; Idaho – Boise; Illinois – Chicago; Maryland – Baltimore; Nevada – Las Vegas; North Carolina – Charlotte, Greensboro, (along with High Point and Winston-Salem), Raleigh (along with Cary, Chapel Hill and Durham); Oregon – Portland, Salem; Pennsylvania – Philadelphia; Texas – Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Killeen/Temple, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, San Antonio, Waco, Wichita Falls; Washington – Bellingham, Seattle. For more information, visit www.sprint.com/4G.


In 2010, Sprint expects to launch service in multiple markets, including but not limited to, Boston, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Sprint is harnessing the power of 4G as the majority shareholder of Clearwire, the independent company that is building the WiMAX network. Sprint is the only national wireless carrier to offer 4G services on the Clearwire WiMAX network.


About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two wireless networks serving more than 48 million customers at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The company’s customer-focused strategy has led to improved first call resolution and customer care satisfaction scores. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.


About HTC
HTC Corporation (HTC) is one of the fastest growing companies in the mobile phone industry. By putting people at the center of everything it does, HTC creates innovative smartphones that better serve the lives and needs of individuals. The company is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange under ticker 2498. For more information about HTC, please visit www.htc.com.


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Friday, March 19, 2010

Sony Bravia VPL-HW15 SXRD 1080P Projector Review


Bigger is not always better, but when it comes to TV’s, it is almost always better. Many of us may enjoy our 40 inch flat screen TV’s. But what if the picture was twice the size? With a front projector, it can be. Up for review today is the Sony Bravia VPL-HWI5.

Sony is known for making good products. The Sony Bravia VPL-HWI5 is no exception. The projector itself is a rather large yet elegant looking gloss black case. The measurements are 16 1/8 x 7 1/8 x 18 3/8 and has a weight of over 22lbs. All of the connections are on the left side and consist of two HDMI, and one each for VGA, composite, S-Video, and component. There is also a connection for controlling the projector via a computer. There are controls on the top to adjust the lens shift up, down, left, and right. There is a control panel on the side opposite of the connections, that consists of buttons for power, input, menu, and navigation buttons for left, right, up, down, and enter. The exhaust vents are on the front corners and front bottom, and intake vents in the rear, with airflow going from rear to front. One of the features that I also like, living in a dusty desert, is the sealed light path. At times, LCD’s can develop dust blobs that can be seen on your screen. But with the Sony’s sealed light path, there’s no way that dust blobs can get on the panels. The Sony has a 1.6x manual zoom lens, which will allow you to have a 100” image from 121 to183 5/8 inches away. This gives you a good amount of installation flexibility. The projector can also be used on a table top, or ceiling mounted.

The Sony used an SXRD which stands for Silicon X-tal Reflective Display. This is Sony’s version of LCoS, which is Liquid Crystal on Silicon. LCoS technology has some qualities that are an improvement of LCD. One of which is the lack of a screen door effect. LCoS also has better native black levels. In addition, the picture tends to be more film-like.

Another unique feature of the Sony Bravia VPL-HWI5 is panel adjustment. Just like LCD projectors, the Sony is a 3 panel system with 1 panel for blue, red and green. These panels are lined up with each other to present the beautiful picture we want to see. But if the panels are not lined up correctly, the color will appear off. On LCD projectors, if this occurs the projector will need to be sent in for adjustment, as they are not user adjustable. On the Sony VPL-HW15, however, they have a pixel adjustment feature that allows adjustment of the color panels in 1/3 pixel adjustments.

The GUI is fairly simple and straight forward. The adjustment screens are fairly simple and well laid out. When you enter the menu, there are screens for Picture, Advanced Picture, Screen, Setup, Function, Installation, and Information. There is quite a bit of adjustments that can be done. The remote control is also fairly well laid out, with backlit buttons for use in a light controlled room.

So, the projector Bravia VPL-HWIS is a well built tank of a projector with some great features. But how does it all come together? The picture is beautiful! One thing that I enjoy about Sony is that they know how to do video very well. I would expect nothing less than Sony, and they delivered.

Out of the box, picture was great. The colors were all very well saturated, and not overly saturated. Lumens were evenly projected corner to corner. Contrast was very good, with the blacks looking just that – black, with great shadow detail. The sharpness was also excellent. With good source material, the image had a lot of depth to it! And synonymous with LCoS technology, the VPL-HW15 picture had zero screen door effect, no matter how close you sat to the screen. The image had a very nice film like look to it, and more elegant looking than I am used to with LCD. I included a few screenshots, which using a digital camera are difficult to give it justice.

With the Sony Bravia VPL-HW15, I was not surprised with its performance. No matter what source material I fed it – DVD, HDTV, Blu-Ray, with film, sports, or even animation, it all looked excellent with a lot of snap! And as I previously mentioned, the pixel adjustment can be preformed for each individual color. Going into the settings, I noticed the panels were of less than a pixel off, and I was able to get it dead on. The picture however did not have a noticeable improvement.

For those of you who are intimidated with adjusting the settings, not wanting to foul anything up, you can rest assured. Picture quality right out of the box was very good. There is always the option of getting it professionally calibrated. But the extra cost may not be worth it for you, based on how well it looks right out of the box. Throwing a 100” 16x9 image from 11 feet away in Cinema mode, in a light controlled room, provided a bright image. It even looked good with a little ambient light. Just keep in mind that while the image is viewable, the more ambient light there is, the more washed out the image can get. Of course, the type of screen used, the amount of ambient light, and location of where the light is coming from can all be a factor to the image quality.

It’s gloss black finish had an elegant look for any d├ęcor. There was zero light leakage. And the fan was inaudible, even sitting directly under it. It was also very solidly built. While there are plenty of connections for any type of device, that was one area that I would have liked to see changed. The connections are all on the side of the projector. With it being in my dedicated theater room, I would have preferred to see the connections at the rear instead.

The Sony Bravia VPL-HW15 is a serious projector. It is basically an entry level projector when it comes to LCoS, but there is nothing entry level about the picture it throws. At an MSRP of around $3,000 it gives a big bang for the your buck. If you are in the market for a front projector, I would highly recommend it being on your short list to check out. With a good price, excellent performance, and backed by a 2 year warranty, the Bravia VPL-HW15 is a great product. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.sony.com.


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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Laptop Bag Review


Laptops are getting more popular, and many people are even replacing their desktops with a laptop. Being smaller, and portable, you can now bring all your files with you. The question for many is how to transport your laptop. Some bags are more convenient than others. Targus tried to make a bag that was more convenient, even for traveling.

The Targus Zip-Thru Air Traveler did just that. The bag has a very convenient and rather inventive design with a zip through section. Here, there is a middle section that unzips to open the bag into two halves, with printed icons for each side. One side is for the laptop and the other side is for you folders, keys, electronic accessories, and anything else. This feature makes it convenient for the air traveler. Just unzip the middle and let it go through the X-ray machine. No need to pull you laptop out of the bag. The X-ray operator can clearly see you laptop on one side, and all your other stuff on the other side. With its dual file storage compartment, and zip down workstation compartment with pockets for business cards, pens, keys, external drives and accessories, it can also be your portable office on the plane. The build quality is also excellent. It will be able to provide years of service, in a traditional all black look.


However, not everyone is looking for traditional. For those of you looking to make a more personal designer statement, take a look at Speck. They are great for those of you that are pocket friendly- meaning you love lots of pockets. They have zipper pockets that reveal a water bottle holder, key ring holder, handle strap, and sternum chest straps. There are also pockets for cell phone, digital camera, and mp3 player with a hole to allow headphone access. The extra plush padded laptop section allows access to you r laptop through the main compartment, or success through the back under the shoulder straps. The Speck Aft Back allows you to also make a personal statement with designer looks. The design provided looked kind of like a checker board, in grayscale, called Restart Greyscale Pixel. It looked pretty cool.

One warning, is to make sure the size is right for your laptop. My 17.3” HP laptop fit great into the Targus Air Traveler, but the AftPack, which fits laptops up to 17” was too small for my 17.3” laptop. It would fit in the backpack, but the zipper would not fit around it, so it would stick out the top. So as long as your laptop will fit, Specks bag will work great and it is also built very well. You can enjoy carrying your laptop, and look good doing it.
Fore more info and complete specs, check out their websites at:


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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Onkyo Introduces the new 3D-Ready THX Certified TX-SR608 Receiver


Onkyo Introduces the World’s First THX Certified 3D-Ready A/V Receiver
The Onkyo TX-SR608 THX-Certified A/V Receiver is one of several HDMI v1.4, 3D-Ready A/V Receivers and Home Theater Systems that will ship in March and April.

Onkyo TX-SR608 (left) an Onkyo HTX-22HDX (right). These and other photos available on-line. (TV not included.)

UPPER SADDLE RIVER, NJ, (3/9/10) -- Onkyo USA has announced March deliveries of its first 3D-Ready home theater receivers and home theater in a box (HTiB) systems. The new models consist of three A/V receivers and three HTiB systems ranging in price from $299 to $599, and all of them support the new HDMI v1.4 connectivity standard for new 3D video displays and Audio Return Channel capabilities. All are exceptionally well equipped to provide a superior music, home theater sound and video experience, with high build-quality and offering excellent value.
For Onkyo, a name that translates roughly to 'sound harmony' in Japanese, sound quality is preeminent. All these new receivers and HTiBs now decode lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreams, and include new 192-kHz/24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1690 DAC's that are highly resistant to clock jitter and provide a remarkable 113-dB dynamic range. The lineup includes Onkyo's new easy-to-setup overlaid onscreen graphical display that lets the user watch the program in the background while using the function menus. Additionally, all 2010 HDMI v1.4 models include a new feature call HDMI Thru. HDMI Thru allows content to pass through to the TV when the receiver is in a standby state.
The new TX-SR608 7.2-channel THX-Select2 Plus certified receiver has new power amplifier section that uses three-stage inverted Darlington output topology, and a power boost from 90 to 100 watts. Audyssey DSX dimensional sound processing has been added to its predecessor's Dolby PLIIz capabilities. Additionally, all video sources, including those using the new PC input, and regardless of source resolution, can be upscaled to big and beautiful 1080p via HDMI and Faroudja DCDi Cinema™. The TX-SR608 will also include a front HDMI input, a feature first introduced by Onkyo in 2009. The TX-SR608 will be available in April at an MSRP of $599.
The 5.1-channel TX-SR308 and 7.1-channel TX-SR508 round out this initial announcement of A/V Receivers from Onkyo. The TX-SR308 will be available in March with an MSRP of $299, a followed by the TX-SR508 in April for $399.
The HTiB package systems, which each consist of a receiver, speakers and a subwoofer, are the 5.1-channel HT-S3300 and 7.1-channel HT-S5300; the latter also includes an iPod dock. Thanks to the HDMI interface and the use of advanced Dolby and DTS codecs, all of these receivers and systems are also capable of decoding lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The HT-S3300 will ship in March with an MSRP of $379, followed by the HT-S5300 in April for $599.
A third packaged system departs from the traditional HTiB form factor and uses a combination subwoofer and 3D Ready A/V receiver plus two front speakers. It uses Onkyo’s own Theater-Dimensional processor to create an immersive and convincing surround effect through just 2.1 channels. The HTX-22HDX has three HDMI v1.4 inputs, handles HD audio formats from DTS and Dolby; offers four distinct audio modes for gaming; and outputs for additional speakers. The HTX-22HDX will ship in May with a $349 MSRP.
"Onkyo's 2010 entry-level product line represents a significant jump over last year's line," said Paul Wasek, Onkyo USA's marketing manager. "We are excited to deliver this first wave of 3D capable products. By upgrading to 1.4, even on the least expensive HTiB, we have eliminated all HDMI pass-through products and allowed HD audio formats to be used across the line. The fact that consumers can now buy a THX-Certified receiver with 1080p upscaling, Burr-Brown DACs, PC input and more for under $600 shows Onkyo's clear commitment to delivering performance and value to consumers."
All of Onkyo's receivers offer exceptional connectivity options with as many as six HDMI inputs, plus component and composite video, numerous stereo input jacks, optical/coaxial digital inputs, and the popular front-panel connections on many models. Two models include Sirius Radio connections, and all these receivers incorporate Onkyo's proprietary Universal Port (U-Port) connector which simplifies connections to optional HD Radio tuners and iPod Docks (included with the HT-S5300).
Since 1946 Onkyo has been passionately committed to developing audio products that deliver uncommon performance, quality and value. Bundling proprietary technologies and innovations with other sound-enhancing exclusives, Onkyo continues to created award winning products that are lauded by many of the industry leading audio publications. The company's philosophy is to deliver products that are superbly designed and built to a consistently outstanding standard of excellence. Today, Onkyo is at the forefront of the home theater and digital revolutions. For more information about this and other fine Onkyo products, visit http://www.onkyousa.com/ or call 800-229-1687.


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Friday, March 5, 2010

Magellan RoadMate 1700 7-Inch GPS Receiver Review


There are a few things you can always count on: death, taxes, and improvements in electronics. GPS receivers have also evolved. Bigger tends to be better. While the norm used to be 3.5” displays, we then went to widescreen displays in 4.3”, 5.0”, and even larger. Up for review today is a product that shows the upward trend. It is the Magellan RoadMate 1700 with a 7.0” widescreen display.
When it comes to GPS receivers, there are a few things that I look for. While GPS receivers have received more features, their core feature is still as a GPS to provide direction. This includes case of use and viewablility. After all, you will be using this while you are driving. Getting into an accident would not be on your list of things to do while you are out driving.
The Magellan RoadMate 1700 does have its share of features. They include:
-OneTouch favorites menu
-7 inch wide color touch screen
-A/V input
-Preloaded maps
-AAA Member Roadside Assistance
-AAA Tourbook
-6 million points of interest (POI)
-Highway lane assist
-QuickSpell with Smart City search
-Qwerty keyboard
-Multi-destination routing with route optimization
-Spoken street name guidance
-Highway exit POI
-Branded POI
-Smart Detour

The OneTouch favorites menu is kind of like a computer desktop. It is the main menu, and gives you instant access to your bookmarks of favorite places that you like to go. With a single touch, you can find your way to home, work or to your favorite restaurant, or any other favorite place, and you can find your way. There from any place, in any city.
The 7 inch wide WVGA is a color touch screen display. The ultra-clear touch screen display gives you four times the detail of a standard GPS. This helps to make it easier to see, thereby keeping your focus on the road.
The A/V input lets you watch video from a media player.

Preloaded maps gives you directions and info including POI as you travel. The Road Mate 1700 is preloaded with maps for the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. Maps for Mexico are also available through an upgrade.
AAA TourBook – This is a feature that provides ratings for services. Whether it is a restaurant, hotel or just play, you will receive reputable ratings and descriptions.
AAA Member Roadside Assistance- A toll-free number provides assistance in finding help. Now you will be able to locate an AAA approved tow service or repair shop. And thanks to the location of exactly where you are in the menu, you can help them to locate you.
6 million POI- Whether it is a gas station, bank, restaurant, or many other categories. These are all preprogrammed and searchable based on your location.
Highway Lane Assist – ever been on a 3 lane highway with each lane an exit for a different location? The RoadMate 1700 knows where you need to go, as well as what lane you need to be in and will tell you so.
QuickSpell and SmartCity search – as a GPS unit, it knows the cities out there, as well as streets. As you type in the address and city, the street name and city may pop up without having to type it all in. It’s a very convenient time saver, with the QWERTY keyboard.
Multi-destination routing with route optimization – this lets you plan your trip using many stops in the order you want, and also lets you optimize your trip for what route is best for you.
Spoken street name guidance – this feature will actually speak the street names as they come up. Giving street manes of when and where to turn makes finding your destination much simpler.
Highway exit POI – want to make a pit stop for food or gas along the way? This feature will show the POI along the freeway to find what you are looking for.
Branded POI – looking for a Starbucks, or the kids want McDonalds? This feature shows you your favorite places with their logos.
Smart Detour – come across an accident or traffic jam? This will get you around that obstacle with the best route to get you where you want to go.
Customizable route method – want the fastest way to get there, least use of freeways, or maybe shortest distance? This feature will get you there the way you want to get there.
Birds eye 3D view – helps make your navigation easier using 3D objects so you can see the objects around you.
Auto re-route – if you missed an exit, or made a sudden pit stop? Now this will get you back on track.
Auto Night View – adjust the screen automatically when it gets dark for color and contrast that is best for night viewing.
I love electronics. And I guess part of it is because they usually make our life simpler, or easier. And I guess when you get a gadget like a GPS receiver, there can be a bit of excitement to see if it really works the way we expected. I have used GPS receivers before, and while most of the time usually get you where you want to go, there can sometimes be hiccups. I am pleased to announce that with the Magellan RoadMate 1700, I did not have a single wrong direction. And with a GPS receiver, that is one of the best compliments you can get.
There is a built-in battery, but the battery life is short. Having a built in battery does give the device some added functionality. But partially due to the size of the screen, it only lasts for about a half hour. So if you need to go mobile and take it out of the car, just keep that in mind.
The other features worked great as well. The large display had great resolution, was easy to see, and I loved the AutoNight View! One thing to keep in mind is the 7” display. Based on what vehicle you drive, it could be too big. The preloaded maps and POI’s worked extremely well and made searching very easy. The AAA roadside assistance and tourbook are also great features for AAA members.
QuickSpell and SmartCity search did make searching for a location easier. I also really liked the highway lane assist. There were multiple times in traveling doing the review that figuring out which lane to be in when I was not used to the freeway and exits was very difficult. But the RoadMate 1700 had me in the correct lane, with clear voice and visual guides every single time. The route optimization worked well, as with the re-routing feature. The OneTouch menu is also great.
I would have to say that using the RoadMate 1700 was an extremely smooth experience. It did its job as a GPS receiver flawlessly. And the voice directions were also clear to hear and nice and articulated. The included mount also worked well, and the manual is also well written and easy to follow. If you are in the market for a large GPS receiver, I would highly recommend the Magellan RoadMate 1700. It does its job in spades. And at $299 it is a real bargain. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.magellangps.com.


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Thursday, March 4, 2010

HTC Hero Review


We live in an electronic age. And as a general rule of thumb, each year electronics get more and more sophisticated. They also tend to have more and more features. The same is true with cell phones. As a gadget guy, I used to have multiple portable electronic devices- cell phone, PDA, MP3 player, ect. Now you can do all that and even more. Up for review is the HTC Hero. It uses the DROID operating system. I have been a fan of the Windows Mobile Platform. But the DROID platform is catching on, and as an open platform applications will be plentiful.

Starting with the display, it is a high resolution and when tilted sideways for watching video it appears to be pretty close to widescreen in format. Living in Arizona where we tend to get a lot of sunlight means it can get very bright outside. While I love the high resolution display, I would personally like a brighter display to make it easier to see outdoors. It is sufficiently bright most of the time; it is just not as bright as my blackberry.

Its primary job is a cell phone, and as a cell phone it excels. Volume is good and understandable. The speakerphone functionality also works well. Reception is also quite good. In comparison to my HTC Touch, which I usually have three bars, I was able to get 4-5 bars in the same locations.

The layout is typical, and functional. At the top is the headphone jack. The up and down volume buttons are on the left hand side. The right hand side is clear of buttons, and on the bottom is the mini usb connection for charging the phone. On the back is the speaker for the speakerphone and lens for the 5.0 megapixel auto-focus camera and camcorder. Looking at the front you see a stylish design. At the top is the speaker, and at the bottom are two protruding buttons for connect/call and hang-up/power, and for flush buttons for menu, home, lookup, and back buttons. Inside the battery compartment is the memory card slot.

The functionality was very good. The main screen is easy to read, with time, date, local weather and temperature. There are also most commonly used programs, such as contact, email, voicemail, camera and internet. At the bottom is also a button that brings up all of the applications stored. You can also bring up additional screen by dragging your finger left to right, or right to left. Dragging left to right takes you to a screen with Sprint TV, IM and messages. One more drag in the same direction takes you to the calendar. Dragging right to left takes you to the MP3 player , and one more drag the same direction takes you to the webpage bookmarks.

I love the DROID as an operation system. My previous favorite was Windows Mobile, but the DROID is growing on me. And the HTC Hero implemented it very well. It worked great without any detectable glitches. If you are in the market for a new cell phone, I would highly recommend putting the HTC Hero on your short list. For more info and complete specs, feel free to check out HTC’s Website at www.htc.com.


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Onkyo TX-NR1007 THX 9.2 Surround Receiver Review


Surround sound receivers often have a lot expected of them. After all, they have to give us the ability to hook up all of our electronic gear. This gear ranges from tape decks, CD players, Direct TV, Dish Network, Tivo, or cable boxes, DVD players. We also can’t forget our IPods, and other recent innovations like internet radio and networked connectivity. They need to take all of our gadgets and have the audio sound good, video look good, and the receiver itself look good. All this requires a competent amplifier section, high quality DAC’s and high performance video processors. We also require it to even handle other rooms. Dizzy yet? Just imagine being a new surround sound receiver. Gone are the days of just switching from tape deck to CD and listening through your tower speakers. Now we need multiple subwoofer outputs, bass management, and active room calibration. That’s one tall order, one that no ordinary receiver can do all of, but enter the Onkyo-TX-NR1007.

Let’s start with some key features of the Onkyo TX-NR1007:

• 9.2 Channels
• 135W per channel (8ohms 20-20kHz 0.05%)
• Certified 4ohm performance
• All Discrete Circuitry
• Dual PUSH-PULL design
• Independent Block Construction
• Dolby Digital, DD Plus, TrueHD
• DTS HD Master Audio
• DTS Surround Sensation Speaker/Headphone
• THX Processing
• Neural Surround
• Audyssey Dynamic EQ, Volume, DSX
• Direct/Pure Mode
• Music Optimizer
• 192K/24 Bit DAC’s
• VLSC
• ISF Certified Calibration Control
• Video Upconversion to HDMI and Upscaling to 1080p
• Multi-Channel Input
• Analog Pre-Outs
• Powered Zone 2
• HD, Sirius and XM Radio Ready
• Internet Radio Capable & Streaming Audio from PC
• RS-232
• Ethernet
• 12V Trigger

If you can’t tell, this TX-NR1007 is a beast. And at over 50 lbs, it is also built like a tank. But features don’t matter much if it does not all come together and perform. A poor performing receiver doesn’t make anyone happy.

Let’s start off with the remote. It comes with remote model #RC-745M, which is a backlit learning remote control. The layout is well thought out and simple. The layout has sections starting at the top and working down for power, activities, input selector, remote mode, and TV. Below the TV section is the navigation keys and setup area, VCR/DVD controls, listening modes, and at the very bottom are the number keys. It didn’t take much reading to figure out how to use the remote.

With the receiver, we will start with the internal decoding, since audio comes first in AV Receiver. Audio decoders are built-in for Dolby TrueHD, Pro-Logic IIz, DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS surround sensation. What I like is the Dolby Pro-Logic IIz. This adds two extra height channels above the front left and right speakers. Additional audio processing comes from Audyssey DSX, which in addition to front height channels, also adds wide left and wide right channels. Yes, you read correct. Wide right would be to the right of the front right speaker, and wide left would be to the left of the front left channel. For those of you who have not already done the math, when starting from a 7.1 system and adding front height and wide channels, that gives you 11.1. Only the TX-NR1007 has dual subwoofer outs, so it would be 11.2 channels. Unfortunately this is also a kryptonite for the receiver. It only has a 9 channel amplifier section, for 9.2 channels. And it does not have the ability to add an external amplifier for the extra two channels. You are stuck with having front height, or front wide, but not both. The 9.2 channels are the highest you can go. You can however break up the channels. You can use 5 channels for your main room, two channels for zone 2, and two channels for zone 3. Additional audio features are Windows 7 compatibility and networking for Rhapsody and Pandora internet radio. And last but not least it is also THX Ultra 2 Plus certified.

THX Ultra 2 Plus certification is a rating that means the amplifier section is not a wimp. To the contrary, the amp on the TX-NR1007 can really put out. It has the circuitry to do so with massive power supply, and discrete amplifier section and impressive heat sink and fan to keep things cool. The dual PUSH-PULL design, independent block construction and discrete circuitry are a winning combo for a potent and clean sounding amplifier section. The built-in fan also helps keep the amp section cool.

On the video side of things there is ISF certification and Faroudja DCDi Cinema processing. That is one other area that I would have liked to have seen things done differently. The Foroudja DCDi Cinema is a good chip, but I would have liked to see the HQV Reon video processor used instead. But then again, I guess there has to be a few reasons for us to want to bite the bullet and upgrade to the TX-NR3007 or TX-NR5007. These models are the other two models that make up Onkyo’s three Flagship receiver line.

The receiver has plenty of inputs for switching source units. On the front of the receiver you can switch from DVD/BD to VCR/DVR, CBL/SAT, GAME, AUX, TV/TAPE, TUNER CD, PHONE, PORT, NET, and DISPLAY. Under the door on the front panel are the auxiliary input, mic, headphone jack, and the manual buttons instead of using the remote. The front has an elegant black aluminum finish, with the traditional green Onkyo LED display. The back of the receiver as you can see from the photo has 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs, as well as a plethora of other connections for analog stereo, composite, S-video, component, coaxial and optical. Speaker connections are done with good quality binding posts.

One other feature not yet discussed is the GUI (Graphic User Interface). This is the set-up menus where one would typically set-up your receiver with your remote. This is where you would go in and if you had say an Onkyo Blu-ray player, reprogram it so when you hit the DVD-BD button, the display would read Onkyo Blu-ray. You would also go here to run your speaker calibration using Audyssy MultEQ XT and the supplied microphone connected to the receivers front panel. You can do this for several positions, and it worked well, even for the subwoofer. The GUI however, could use some work. While it worked sufficiently well and got the work done, it looked dated. It could definitely use a major refresh to the look of the GUI.

Now on the performance of the TX-NR1007, this is where it really shines. Starting with the amplifier section, it really puts out. My reference NHT Classic Three surround system are a 3-way sealed design, so they are not extremely efficient, and an SVS PC-Plus 16-46 powered subwoofer. The TX-NR1007 plays them very well without any sign of strain, or sounding at all thin. Sound is crisp and clear without being overly bright. The midbass is nice and tight with a nice punch. Both imaging and dynamics are amazing. The Faroudja DCDi Cinema actually performed good as well. The image is nice and detailed without any artifacts that jump out at you. Colors were good and resolution was very good. The image could have been just a tad cleaner, but that is being extremely nit picky. The picture was very good.

Purchasing an AV Receiver can be difficult. There are always new features coming out. The external question is… buy now, or wait for the new model. Waiting for the new model has pros and cons. Sometimes the new model has a host of major improvements and or features. But then again, sometimes there are just a couple of minor improvements and added features. The TX-NR1007 is one of those receivers where if you are waiting for the new model, you jump on it. The upgrades from the model below it as well as the model it replaces are significant. If it was a stock I would rate it a buy. For those of you in the market for a new AV receiver, the TX-NR1007 is a bargain and I highly recommend checking it out. For more info and complete specs, checkout their website at www.Onkyo.com.


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