Accell’s UltraAV HDMI 4:2 Audio/Video Switch is either a Dr. Jekyll or a Mr. Hyde of a home-theater product. The creature you’ll encounter depends on the video source you connect to it. Read on to find out just what we're talking about.
Do yourself a favor: make sure your car is up to code by this July—no broken headlamps or taillights, up-to-date registration, etc. – and, oh yeah, make sure you pick up a hands-free Bluetooth device for your cell phone. On July 1st a new law will go into effect in California making it illegal to talk on a wireless phone while operating a motor vehicle. If you are 18 or older, and you want to use your phone while driving, you will need to use a hands-free device – no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” about it—and there will be no grace period either.
We put a dozen of the newest Bluetooth devices through the wringer to help you find the right one for your car-talking habits. All of the devices were tested with one phone along the same stretch of highway at the same time of day, and call clarity was compared via voicemail recordings.
It’s estimated that two percent of the population suffers from OCD;
IntelliScanner’s business model seems predicated on being able to
capture but a small fraction of this fraction of the populace, for only
the most compulsive of collectors—like me—will find a use for this
product. However, if you are an obsessive collector of media—and you
have a reasonable amount of disposable income—the IntelliScanner Mini
might very well become a lifelong companion.
If you’re just dying to strap a display to your head, the Headplay Personal Cinema is your best choice. It’s comfortable, even for people who wear glasses, supports a wide range of input devices, and delivers relatively high resolution, and the only virtual-reality feature it lacks is head tracking.
We’ve long appreciated the concept of the eBook, but we’ve been disappointed in its execution. The old Franklin readers ate batteries, had small screens, and included only a meager selection of books. Sony’s Reader has a better battery life, but the selection of first-run books leaves much to be desired. Amazon’s new Kindle solves many of these problems but introduces an even thornier one.
You can take one of two approaches with the gear in your home-theater system: Put everything on display, or you hide your components in a cabinet or closet. If you prefer discretion over exhibitionism, Niles Audio’s Remote Control Anywhere kit lets you to control all your infrared-controlled components no matter where you’ve stashed them.
Virtual reality refuses to die. Every couple of years, some new company enters the market with a new product that they claim solves all the glitches, drawbacks, and weaknesses associated with head-mounted displays. Vuzix is the latest; and like so many before them, they’ve made progress, but their iWear VR920 is as flawed and awkward as any of its predecessors.
We’ve seen various USB transfer devices over the years, and for the most part they’ve been clunky and sloooow. Not so with Data Drive Thru’s Tornado, which blew into our Lab and impressed the hell out of us. Essentially a coiled, flat USB 2.0 cable that retracts into a plastic housing, the Tornado works by plugging into the Hi-Speed USB ports of two PCs running a newer Windows OS (Millennium, 2000, XP, or Vista). A basic file-transfer application executes from a bit of flash memory in the device, which allows you to simply drag and drop files between the two rigs. Similar cables from other companies force you to install software to transfer files.
It used to be that simply having two monitors on your desk was enough to establish your power-user cred, but LCD prices being what they are these days, it’s not uncommon for even regular folk to boast a multimonitor setup. Perhaps it’s time you up the ante with a little monitor “modding,” as it were.
You don’t need to be a graphics professional to care about the color of your prints—even casual digital photographers take pride in their work. But what’s a user to do when the image he sees on the screen bears little resemblance to the printer’s output? Many screens provide manual control over individual color channels, but tweaking them to match your printer’s color can be a tedious and time-consuming affair. An alternative is to color calibrate your monitor with a hardware/software package made for the task.