Archive for January, 2007

Free service with purchase of iPhone?

Free service with purchase of iPhone?

Would you pay $499 or $599 for an iPhone if you got 18 months of service for free? That's the question Cingular/ATT seems to be pondering. Apple is putting pressure on Cingular/ATT not to discount the much-anticipated device, and the wireless giant is looking toward alternative strategies to do just that. This certainly would be a bold move by the newly-acquired provider Will this be a preview of things to come from the Cingular/ATT merger? Only time will tell.

This latest rumor comes from CNBC's Jim Cramer. He belives that Cingular/ATT is trying to sway users of Verizon Wireless to make the switch by offering them free long-term contracts when they purchase one of the year's hottest phones. Let's just keep hoping that this type of competition pays off for the average consumer.

Buy the Apple iPhone and get 18-months service free [via: MYiPhone]...

Toto washlets sing while you squat

Toto washlets sing while you squat

It's not enough to put aside time to quietly use the bathroom any more, it has to be a multi-tasking entertainment experience. And you can rely on Toto, manufacturer of undercarriage-cleansing washlets, to facilitate that restroom-break fun, only this time they've ganged up with Kenwood too.

That's right, in their latest line of washlets Toto have popped a Kenwood mp3 player in too, so that not only can you be hosed down with oscillating jets of gently warmed water but serenaded with the Top 40 too. It comes pre-programmed with 18 waterfall and fountain sounds, should you need some urinary inspiration, and an SD slot for rocking your own playlists.

Toto [via Akihabara News]

Turn your table into a grill-pit

Turn your table into a grill-pit

Ask any of my friends and they'll tell you that there's nothing I like more than a good long roast on the kitchen table, so they won't be surprised to hear that these Cook-N-Dine grill surfaces have really grabbed me.  Day to day they're a stainless steel plate, but ratchet up the heat and they bow down to make a shallow pit for frying, grilling, sauté, baking and searing.

The concave shape keeps the tasty juices in, and the outer edge is 50% cooler to let food rest while everything else cooks.  Turn off the power and it retracts to be perfectly flat again, and cleans with a simple wipe. 

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Another chance for Raon Digital’s Vega: can it be redeemed?

Another chance for Raon Digital’s Vega: can it be redeemed?

Can the Raon Digital Vega UMPC claw its way out of the mire of poor reviews we've seen it languish in over the past few months?  Is there anyone other than the Carrypad UMPC Journal that can even begin to overlook the absence of any wireless connectivity?  Is the first-generation of this otherwise cool device destined to be a mere stepping stone to what I'm hoping is a kick-ass replacement?  That's a lot of questions, and I'm looking to my favourite cam-whore Kevin Tofel over at jkontherun to answer at least a couple of them.

So where do we stand?  Well, the Vega can't multi-task, it can't handle media-heavy applications (like the Zune's software) and Skype calling was choppy and glitchy thanks to the underpowered CPU.  On the flip side, web-based apps like Gmail and Outlook Web Access - where the bulk of processing is done server-side - ran smoothly.  So what does this make the Vega?  An over-complicated web-tablet or an underperforming UMPC? 

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Beware the Wii-wielded robot!

Beware the Wii-wielded robot!

Of all the WiiMote hacks I've seen, I think I like this the most.  Using, as the best modders do, the parts they had to hand, Aaron Rasmussen and his friend Brian managed to rig up a system of controlling a Kuka KR16 industrial robot arm via movements of the Wii controller.  And, being mischievous, they then gave it a sword to swing.

Interfacing via a Dell laptop and some home-rolled (and by their own admission grotty) code, they managed to turn the KR16 into a tennis player and a swordsman, without even severing any limbs or losing an eye.  Apparently the arm is capable of moving 16kg of load at full speed and accuracy, so they soon realised that it would be a good idea to stand out of reach.

Another picture and a video of it in action after the cut.

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Remote plugs pretend to cure the standby energy leak

Remote plugs pretend to cure the standby energy leak

Here in the UK at the moment there's been a lot in the press about measuring your carbon footprint, and trying to reduce your own little cloud of emissions.  One of the big culprits, we're told, is leaving the increasing amount of tech in our homes and offices on standby - every time we're lazy a dolphin, panda or poplar tree dies.  Inevitably products spring up (or are rebranded) to take advantage of this new socio-environmental conscience, and inevitably a large number of them miss the point.

This is, basically, a set of remote control plugs and a wireless switch to activate them.  It's been called "Bye Bye Standby", and the idea is that you plug your TV, set-top box and the like into them and, before you go to bed, hit the switch to save all that lovely energy.  Of course, the reality is that nobody turns off their TV or set-top box because the information-wiping pixies would sneak into them overnight and clear all the settings.  What we need is manufacturers to design better appliances that can retain their programming even without a steady electricity supply, not some plugs that have been hastily rebranded. 

Domia [via Automated Home]

Toilet Seats Has Less Bacteria Than Your Average Cell Phones?

Toilet Seats Has Less Bacteria Than Your Average Cell Phones?

For whatever reason, a mobile phone retailer called Dial-a-Phone did a study on how clean the average cell phones are. The study shows there's more bacteria on the average cell phones than the average door handle, keyboard, and bottom of a shoe or even a toilet seat. Skin bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus are found on the tested objects, however shoe shows more backteria from soil and air.

Joanne Verran, Professor of Microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University comments: "Mobile phones, like many everyday objects such a telephones and computer keyboards, harbor bacteria. However, being 'mobile', they are stored in bags or pockets, are handled frequently, and held close to the face. In other words, they come into contact with more parts of our body and a wider range of bacteria than toilet seats!"

The Average Mobile Phone Contains More Bacteria Than A Toilet Seat [via slashphone]

MicroMemo adds a mic for iPod Nano

MicroMemo adds a mic for iPod Nano

New from Marubeni Infotech Japan is this MicroMemo mic for your 2nd gen iPod Nano. Besides recording yourself singing to your favorite tunes, there’s sure to be many other great uses for this mic attachment, like recording yourself talking.

Although its not one of a kind, it does feature a nice simple design with adjustable arm for mic positioning, records in stereo mode saved as WAV format, and has choice of two recording modes—high and low.

The unit can record up to 51 hours of audio in low mode on the 8GB Nano. It also comes with a built-in speaker and draws power directly from the iPod.


MicroMemo Turns iPod Into, Well, A Mic
[Via: OhGizmo]

Willcom WX321J with advanced fingerprint scanner

Willcom WX321J with advanced fingerprint scanner

This new phone from Willcom is the WX321J, which features a unique fingerprint scanner. Unlike other scanners where the input must be directly contacted thus being susceptible to interference such as moisture, this scanner uses radio waves for authentication.

But other than the fingerprint scanner, the specs are pretty average, including a 1.3 megapixel camera, 2.4-inch display, 2MB internal memory, and Micro SD slot for up to 1GB expansion. The phone will be available this February only in Japan.

Willcom WX321J with fingerprint scanner
[Via: NewLaunches]

Doggy Treadmill

Doggy Treadmill

If you’re an urban apartment dweller who owns a dog, then you’ll know the hassle of having to take your dog out for a walk, especially during these cold winter months. But not to worry, because now you can get your precious pooch a Doggy Treadmill so that he can workout indoors as you stay warm and cozy. Priced around $123 from this Japanese—of course—site.


Dogwalker Treadmill
[Via: Gizmodo]

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