FreeAgent Go – USB Hard Drive
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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The FreeAgent series (i.e. XTreme, Go, Desk, Theater) has long been Seagate’s cash cow. So when the manufacturer rolls out new, bigger drive, the FreeAgent will be the first to get it. Seagate’s own website provides a teaser on what appears to be the largest FreeAgent Go ever, equipping with a 640GB 2.5″ drive. Before this, 500GB is the max. capacity offered by anyone in the laptop-friendly HDD form factor. So, this product page sheds light on what is to come.

As a consumer storage line-up, the FreeAgent Go comes in 250GB, 320GB and 500GB as well as the unannounced 640GB. While all the other capacities are available in at least 5 colors, the 640GB will only get two (titanium silver and tuxedo black) for now. In-house developed backup software is for Windows only and oddly works with Seagate drives only. And a 5-year warranty is about as good as it gets for a portable USB drive.

USB CD/DVD Auto-loader
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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Trying to burn CDs or DVDs individually is such a chore, not to mention the inherent inefficiency. That’s why auto-loader exists in the first place. You can feed more than a dozen of discs and let the loader proceed with content duplication in batch. While this kind of device has been around for a while, Nimbie from Acronova raises the bar on the device’s versatility to appeal SOHOs and organizations . Nimbie comes in three varieties: one that writes regular CD/DVD; one equipped with Blu-ray burner; and another version specifically optimized for LightScribe.

What distinguishes the Nimbie apart from others is the top-feeding loader that allows you to refill discs as simple as adding more on top, making it possible to duplicate unlimited number of discs. Also worth mentioning is the independent loader that shortens the cycle time, hence reducing production time and increasing productivity. For audiophiles, the Nimbie can work together with bundled QQripper to automate music ripping processes for up to 100 CDs at time unattended. The plug-in will also fill in all the ID3 tags as well as you are importing to iTunes or Windows Media Player. The regular Nimbie goes for $599 MSRP, and the Blu-ray version goes for $1,199 MSRP.

USB Keyboard for iPhone
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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Keyboards are just getting better not just in the ergonomic aspects, but also the bells and whistles that come with them. So far, we’ve seen keyboards with a LCD screen, a USB speaker, a cooling fan, and even a motor that can slowly rotate itself to adapt your typing style. It shouldn’t be a surprise when someone decides to throw in an iPod / iPhone dock.

The iConnect Media Keyboard from iHome has a prominent display of slightly elevated dock. It comes with 3 inserts to fit everything from iPod nano 1G to iPhone 3G (oddly, iPhone 2G is left out). The play button is below the dock, and we have no idea why it isn’t together with the illuminated touch-sensitive media keys on top of the keyboard. The volume control section can also detect finger swipe. That’s kinda cool. You will also find a rubberized wrist rest as well as a rotating 2-port USB hub. Oddly, flipping through the manual reveals an auxiliary power connector which iHome explicitly warns users must connect the supplied AC adapter to use the “Works for iPhone” keyboard. At MSRP of $149.99, most of keyboard revenue may go into Apple tax department.

128GB USB Flash Drive is coming
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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Let’s face it – you can’t get enough of storage. When you think your brand new 32GB flash drive has you covered, you will soon find new ways to fill it up, such as backing up the whole system for data recovery on the go. Before you know it, you will be googling your next thumbdrive again. Kingston will be shipping a 128GB flash drive – the largest capacity yet as of this writing.

Designated DT200, the series also comprises of 32GB and 64GB, has a capless design, comes with five-year warranty, and includes data protection that is less likely going to rival that of Ironkey. It’s not going to matter anyway since most recovery software already incorporates some form of AES encryption. Keep in mind the 128GB is build-to-order only, and Kingston asks for a staggering $546, not to mention the drive is limited to USB 2.0. (Where is SuperSpeed USB when we need it?) As for the other two, the same company has been selling 32GB and 64GB that belong to the DT150 at a relatively attractive price.

USB Microwave
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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The lines between household appliances and offbeat gadgetry seem to be getting slowly blurred with inventions such as USB fridge, massager and humidifier. But have we gone too far with USB gadgets? This USB microwave oven co-developed by Heinz and GAMMA is actually a working prototype that uses phone radio frequencies to produce heat for cooking the food (tomato beans in this case, as shown in the picture).

Heinz strongly believes there’s a market for this as there is unfortunately no shortage of workaholics who have to spend their lunch time working in their cubicles and as USB ports nowadays are more readily available than electrical outlets. So, this computer-tethered microwave – already given a name, Beanzawave – could help with lunch preparation.

The miniaturized USB microwave reportedly only works with Heinz’s “Snap Pots”. Let’s hope the food selection isn’t limited to pre-cooked beans. Some sources say a retail Beanzawave unit will cost as much as $200. If so, Heinz may want to consider giving away a bunch of “Snap Pots” since its customers aren’t likely able to afford the food after bringing the microwave home.

USB Touch Screen Monitor
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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There is no shortage of mini-USB monitors, especially in Japan and Korea. In USA, Korean company Nanovision’s MIMO-series seems to have dominated the market albeit small and niche with its bus-powered but relatively pedestrian 7″ USB monitor (UM-710).

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Its more talented sibling – the UM-740 – gets much more interesting with touchscreen capability and integrated webcam. If you drop $30 on top of the $199.99 MSRP, you get full Mac support. Unfortunately, the MIMO UM-740 sold out almost as soon as it went on sale in February due to overwhelming demand (or severely limited supply). But fear not, the USB touchscreen mini-monitor is once again available. Grab one before it goes out of stock again; that is if you need the extra 800×480 pixels to play YouTube video full screen, or to put away your widgets, IM client, Gmail on a secondary display.

Mimobot series USB Flash Drives
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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The fourth series of Mimoco’s Star Wars Mimobot line of designer flash drives has landed. Without much fanfare, the latest installment of the series celebrates the tenth anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace although none of the characters featured in the themed drives appeared in the said movie. Mimoco brought back Darth Vader, and cut his ears that were found on the original version in the first of the Star Wars themed Mimobot series. This should be a relief for fans.

Unmasking the Darth Vader reveals the scarred countenance of Anakin Skywalker, as played by Hayden Christensen. And one in every six Vader’s will have the classic Anakin face. Either of them is simply more authentic and better looking than the original Darth Vader with dreadful pointy ears. The series also comprises Darth Maul, and Captain Rex whose helmet can also be removed to find the clone’s face beneath. Mimoco so far has created sixteen different Star Wars themed collectible drives.

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Edifier Luna 2 D-class USB Speaker
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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In search of a pair of decent PC speakers to connect to a notebook or netbook, USB and optical SPDIF come to mind. However, rarely do a speaker set offers both interfaces, let alone a classy design and a class-D amplifier. The Edifier Luna 2 speakers come with all these in addition to an analog auxiliary input, and on top of these, they even add a touch-sensitive panel (interfaced with a computer by none other than USB). These speakers with a black and silver color scheme look more like a pair of sculptures, and they weigh 2kg each. It’s suffice to say they don’t belong in the same league as Logitech USB speakers. The touch panel will detect swiping, and will work with most media players; though, you need to bring the app to the forefront on the desktop for the controls to respond.

In the acoustics department, each of the Edifier Luna 2 unit contains a 88mm full-range driver and a 17mm tweeter. The pair can pump out a lot of volume as they are rated at 30W RMS which strike us as odd for a pair of desktop speakers. As good as everything may sound, the minimalist 2.0 audio system carries a price tag of 250 pounds, and appears to be available in UK unless you can find a distributor in your area.

Toaster-style USB Hard Drive Dock
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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The guy who came up with the toaster-style USB hard drive dock should really deserve a medal. No longer do we need to figure out what to do with those old drives. We can easily jam in the spare 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives, and eject them like Nintendo cartridges.

Ever since the first dock shipped, we’ve seen no less than a dozen of ambitious, yet practical designs that expand on this cartridge system idea. However, those who are stuck for ideas simply copy the idea of a multi-slice toaster, and put as many as five slots like this extra-wide USB dock from Icy Dock. We couldn’t think of any viable way of putting this dock into good use besides creating a JBOD; perhaps this is just for show to spice up their Computex booth and won’t be in production.

USB Gaming Glove
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 | Author: Elaine Lee

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Someone must be a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist’s Colonel Mustang, and probably is inspired by the way the state alchemist can take out his enemy by flicking fingers to create explosion and flames. He actually started a company called Peregrine some five years ago, and began engineering a nifty USB glove which basically allows him to give commands depending on how he contacts the 30 touch-sensitive buttons located all over the glove with his thumb. While this isn’t exactly flicking fingers, there are bound be some differences from conception to reality in product designs.

While Peregrine intends to heavily push the USB glove of the same name as the company to PC gamers, the glove can be just as useful in Photoshop or perhaps other professional software. The Peregrine, however, doesn’t offer gesture-based control so we guess you couldn’t really punch your enemy in a FPS game with this glove on. We do like the magnetic breakaway USB pod that attaches to the glove. This virtually eliminates the chance of ripping out the wire. This maybe not the perfect power glove, but the Peregrine maybe worth a try if you are a heavy RTS or WoW fan. It’s available for pre-order at $100 and ready for delivery this Fall.