Archive for December, 2006

Razer’s gaming keyboard goes under the microscope

Razer’s gaming keyboard goes under the microscope

An Optimus keyboard would be nice, wouldn't it, but at the moment you'd be lucky to get a sexy rendered picture of one and a couple of mock-up keys.  So if the gamer in you wants personalised keys then you'll have to look to other keyboards, less high-tech perhaps than Optimus but at least available in the shops!  Razer, known best perhaps for their high-resolution mice, have turned their hand to making the Tarantula gaming keyboard, and our friends over at Everything USB have given it a damned good look finger-battering.

There's no shortage of claims made about the Tarantula, including keys designed to reduce false-presses and decrease reaction time.  It also has (some) illuminated keys, media and image editing controls, replaceable key caps and programmable functions (with on-board memory to make it more portable).  Finally, and a little confusingly, there's a ostensibly pointless "Battle Dock" with a slooow USB 1.1 connector and very little to plug into it.  Nevertheless, Scott Clark (he of the little beard) found it tactile and functional, if lacking in the bling that's so important to some people.

Heads-up display is a real lens-limpet

Heads-up display is a real lens-limpet

I don't know whether to laugh of cry.  I hold out for these microdisplay-integrated glasses and, while I'm waiting, I'm expected to make do with this stick-on monstrosity from Arisawa.  Yes, it only weighs 8g, but unlike the Lumus-Optical pair linked to above you'll only get a 21-inch virtual screen (compared to 60-inches) when viewed from a meter away.

On sale in 2007, with a Japanese TV tuner-equipped model following after, they'll cost around $429.

Arisawa TeleglassThey come with a box of gubbins that can accept input from video-capable iPods and have a rechargeable battery with unknown life.  The lens attaches via a suction-cup.

If it's okay with you, I think I'll pass on these.  While I'm a brave boy, I don't think I could cope with being seen in public wearing them!

Product Page [translated] [via I4U News]

TeRK remote presence platform is a $600 DIY dream

TeRK remote presence platform is a $600 DIY dream

With only a few days to go until Christmas, you might find that the usual "proximity to family" panic is beginning to set in.  Symptoms include sweatiness of the brows, plumping of the shins and a general nausea that only gets provoked by eating sprouts.  So what about if I could offer you a way to be there to see the unwrappings but not have to bear the company?  Then scrape together six-hundred of your glossiest dollars and get your sweet ass over to TeRK and put together one of their Qwerkbot+ robot platforms.

Qwerkbot+ builds on TeRK's first robotics platform by adding an independently-controllable pan and tilt webcam.  So you'll be able to trundle into the dining room and glance over your telepresence shoulder to make sure that "favourite" auntie isn't chasing you to give you a great big sloppy kiss.

Kleer fully wire-free headphone reference design

Kleer fully wire-free headphone reference design

Yes, it's only a reference design, it uses a proprietary RF technology and it's nowhere near on sale yet, but I'm so hungry for totally wire-free headphones that I'm willing to post about this Kleer concept in the hope that it spurs someone, anyone, on to make them.

Seriously, is it too much to ask for my music sans neck-circling cable?  Kleer are saying this design can "achieve at least 10 hours playtime of lossless CD-quality digital stereo audio over a robust 2.4GHz radio link" with a simple one-button interface and LEDs to show battery and operational status.

By next Christmas I want these (or something like them) to be a realistic purchase on my letter to Santa.

Kleer Wireless Audio [via The Red Ferret Journal]

Email Printer gets reviewed

Email Printer gets reviewed

If my snarky post back in October about a printer that dialled up a preset email account and made hard-copies of the inbox that Hammacher Schlemmer were selling interested you, then Gear Diary's latest review will be worth reading.  Turns out that printer is HP's Printing Mailbox, and the service 'Presto' - for $9.99 a month (or $99.99 for a full year) a PC-phobic user can receive all the photos and family news everyone else is enjoying.  Judie reckoned one might be worth getting for her elderly grandfather-in-law Chuck, and has adopted the mindset of a cost-conscious pensioner for her review!

The service works as expected: the printer dials a toll-free number between preset hours, downloads the contents of a white-list governed inbox (i.e. only authorised senders can have mail printed) and spits it out onto paper for Chuck to enjoy.  What I was particularly pleased to see, being unofficial (i.e. unpaid) tech support worker for my family, was the online setup system which could manage the printer and service remotely.  If only I could do that with my grandmother's VCR and the clock on her microwave!

XBOX 360 Gets Warranty Upgrade

XBOX 360 Gets Warranty Upgrade

Ahhh, the Christmas spirit! Microsoft is in the x-mas mood! Xbox 360 is getting warranty extension to one full year instead of 90 days after the purchase date. Those who paid for repairs before after the 90 days warranty will receive credits from Microsoft automatically.

Jeff Bell, corporate VP of Global Marketing for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business releases the following statement regarding the warranty upgrade.

"Customer satisfaction is a central focus and priority for the Xbox 360 system. The Xbox 360 system now offers this extended warranty upgrade. It is truly the industry's most compelling home entertainment offering.”

Xbox 360 Warranty Boosted to One Year [via dailytech]

It’s a harsh world for iPod Docks: Tivoli’s iYiYi

It’s a harsh world for iPod Docks: Tivoli’s iYiYi

I'll keep this one brief because there's only so much you can write about yet another iPod dock.  Available in black or white, made by Tivoli Audio and with a combination clock and AM/FM radio, it comes with a variety of dock adaptors so that it'll work with normal iPods as well as the Nano. 

The oddly-named iYiYi has five presets for FM and AM each, a large blue-backlit display with RDS for identifying which station you're listening to, and an aux-in socket for amplifying something else (a computer, maybe, or the groans of a heaving cat); it's yours for $299.99 and available now.

Photo of the white version after the cut.

Samhong bidet wins AVING’s Best Home Product award

Samhong bidet wins AVING’s Best Home Product award

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.  I'm not saying we should be omnipotent, but that it's important to keep the undercarriage clean.  I guess that's why I'm so keen to go to Japan - to try out the incredible "washlet" bidet toilets, with their insanely complicated remote control panels and variety of extending water-spraying prongs.  If you can't quite manage the whole Toto experience, then how about the latest Samhong bidet toilet-seat.

A replacement for your existing seat, it not only gives you a place to sit but sprays you with warm water and then dries you off with a rather vicious looking infrared hot air system.  That lovely duck-egg blue panel is also replaceable, so that the whole thing will match your decor, and there's a remote control to save you scrabbling round behind yourself when it's time for a hosing-down.

More photos after the cut.

Second Life suffers erectile dysfunction

Second Life suffers erectile dysfunction

It's a tough life being a real-estate agent.  The exhausting driving round from location to location, never mind the toll it takes on your moral compass; all that "oh no, it's not mold, it's just over-painted skirting board" wearing away your humanity.  But I'm guessing that few have ever been bombarded by huge flying penises.  Spare a thought, then, for Second Life millionaire and property tycoon Anshe Chung, who has found that fame brings with it not only glorious riches but also gets you targeted by phallus-obsessed malcontents.

In a live interview with CNET Chung, who claims to own virtual assets worth $1m, was suddenly interrupted by a stream of what can only be described as "large pink gentleman's protuberances."  It was the work of so-called "griefers", who demonstrate their disapproval via self-replicating code that bogs down servers and causes embarrassment.  Having moved the interview to another lecture theatre, that too was attacked - this time with a photo of a woman holding what can only be described as "a swollen underpants prong" - eventually crashing the Second Life server.

When the talk finally resumed, lasting for three hours, Chung refused to comment on the attack.  There's a video available here, as well as CNET's transcript of the interview here.

Sydney Morning Herald [via BoingBoing]

The Black Arts are bus-powered

The Black Arts are bus-powered

It's not easy going through your days filled with a cold, desperate rage.  Sometimes just seeing people smiling in the street makes me want to thrash them to death with their own torn-off limbs, and you can only do that a couple of times before the local law enforcement professionals start taking a more than neighbourly interest in your mental health.  I get the feeling that electronics-tinkerer Mike Larsson knows exactly how I feel; his USB Voodoo Word doll plugs into your computer and, when you stab it with a pin, prompts a great gushing of vicious prose onto the screen.

Frankly this is far more useful than some USB fan or cup-warmer.  Yes, hot coffee is nice, but throwing it over the mail-boy when he drops your issue of Gastric Platitudes Monthly is a sure-fire way to earn that final written warning; now you can jab your felt doll instead, and revel in your computer's spleen-venting bile.  I really, really want one.

Voodoo Word - by Mike Larsson [bookofjoe]