O'Grady's PowerPage » Accessory

REVIEW: XtremeMac SportWrap Perfect for the gym

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 10th, 2006, 09:19
Category: Accessory

xtrememac-sportwrap-nano.jpgI love the iPod nano for working out because it’s small enough to bring to the gym and it doesn’t get in the way. In fact, I usually just tuck mine in a small leather case an toss it into my pocket. The problem is that having your iPod in a pocket requires you to take it out to change songs/volume, etc. Also there’s the risk that it was either fall out or be crushed if it’s in a back pocket.
My solution was to grab an arm band for it – the XtremeMac SportWrap (US$30) fit the bill perfectly.
The SportWrap is a neoprene case the wraps around the iPod nano and leaves access to the scroll wheel and screen (although both are covered by a clear, protective membrane) so that you can operate them on your arm. It comes with two different sizes of arm straps to fit everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Hulk Hogan. Although its adequate to keep it connected to arm, I wish that the SportWrap has a bit more Velcro on the flap end of the strap.
I use my iPod upside-down when strapped to my arm because it’s a little more natural to read the display, but either way, it takes a little getting used to. I suggest starting your workout or running playlist before strapping it to your arm.
One of the surprises with the SportWrap is that it can easily be used while doing a bicep workout – something I wasn’t sure about. As long as you attach it high enough on your bicep, i.e. above the peak, your able to do most arm exercises without a problem. Another nice feature is that it is water-resistant. I sweat pretty good last night at the gym and my nano was no worse for wear.
The XtremeMac SportWrap is comfortable, easy to use and recommended for anyone who lifts, runs or bikes with their iPod. It’s available in black (pictured), purple for the iPod nano or mini for US$30 from XtremeMac.


The Apple Core: TomTom GO 300 portable GPS receiver

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006, 08:00
Category: Accessory

tomtom300-1sm.jpgThe TomTom GO 300 (MSRP US$499) is an economical Mac-compatible portable GPS receiver. If you’re looking for a GPS receiver for you car that costs less than a mortgage payment, then the GO 300 is worthy of a look.
The GO 300 has a built-in Bluetooth connection that allows you to connect your mobile phone to access TomTom PLUS services, i.e. Real time traffic, weather and extra downloads such as detailed city maps, additional voices and points of interest (POIs). New customers receive a one month free trial of TomTom PLUS services. I was not able to test this service because it doesn’t work with my Treo 650 mobile phone.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.


A Solution for Airport Express Problems

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 26th, 2006, 09:00
Category: Accessory

I have finally found a solution for my Airport Express problems. Multiple times it would fail. I originally found that using the Airport Setup Assistant, could restore my Airport to full operation. But that’s not the end of the story. Main problem I would get is that I could always network, but wireless printing kept failing. I finally tracked down the problem to a final solution.
Where I am, I plug everything into a power strip and kill everything when I shutdown for the day. What I was unaware of is, that there is PRAM in the Express, held by a small battery or supercap on the board. If I use my system for 3 hours, and then turn everything off for 14 hours, the PRAM becomes at least partially discharged, hence the cause of my numerous problems.
Solution is, to at least once a week, leave my power strip on 24-hours, which charges the Express’ PRAM battery, and my problems have disappeared.
So, firstly, re-do the Airport Setup Assistant. See if that works, if it does, then manage the power system so that the thing does not go brain dead. If nothing works after that, then hardware failure is the cause.
Contributed by: Paul Pollock


Additional Info on Dead Airport Expresses

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 24th, 2006, 08:00
Category: Accessory

Thank you for putting the Airport Express problem on the front page right in time when mine died. At least it seems that I am not alone.
Somewhere on the linked page from the Apple discussions there is an interesting note that French site “MacBidoulle” (english version at Hardmac.com) is already looking deeper into the problem and is collecting serial numbers and other information about dead APXes. If you go to Hardmac.com and do a search on “Airport Express” you will find that they report regularly about their progress. There seems to be the suspicion that especially APXes in countries with 220 V or 240 V voltage are affected.
I had roughly the same problem with my first graphite Airport base dying. Apple acknowledged the problem with specific serial numbers at some point and I got a refurbished unit in exchange even after the warranty had expired. I hope that the work at MacBidoulle will lead to a similarly satisfying solution for the owners of dead Airport Express stations.
Contributed by:Dietmar Liehr


Memory’s Continual Expansion

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 21st, 2006, 08:00
Category: Accessory

transflash-400.jpgMy eldest daughter, Sky (19-and-two-thirds), has just purchased a new mobile phone. It has the facility to accept a ‘transflash’ memory card. The one we ordered just arrived; a 1 gigabyte unit measuring 1 x 10 x 15mm (fingernail size). It cost less than three chart CDs.
The first external hard drive I possessed was bought for a Macintosh Plus in 1986. It was about 70 x 220 x 220mm, and weighed at least a kilogram. It was the largest capacity available at the time, 20 megabytes – a FIVE-HUNDREDTH of the capacity of the aforementioned memory card. And it cost me over 600 (plus VAT).
I’m still in a mild state of shock. Read more on my blog.
Contributed by: Brett Jordan


The Apple Core: A field guide to digital audio recorders

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 29th, 2006, 11:07
Category: Accessory

m-audio-microtrack.jpgI’ve recorded live music events on DAT tape for years and recently started thinking about ways to modernize the process and skip the tape altogether. I’ve been looking for a portable audio recorder to tape interviews and record podcasts but have been frustrated with the options. Following is some of my research.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.


Mac Media Centre Remotes

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006, 08:00
Category: Accessory

mac-mini-remotes.jpgApple makes some nice Bluetooth gear but having a full-sized keyboard on your coffee table is just as bad. The new Front Row remote looks good but can’t control a TV tuner and if you’ve spent any time trying to control EyeTV you’ll know it needs a lot of buttons.
To make your Mac Mini into a true consumer Media Center, something like the ATI Remote Wonder (US$49, pictured) is ideal. Every single button is programmable meaning it can control any application and any option that has a keyboard shortcut. The only thing I’ve found lacking with this set up, is the ability to type in the occasional words while surfing or searching the iTunes Store / EyeTV guide.
This little beauty on the right, the Freedom mini Bluetooth Keyboard (£60, ~US$100, pictured), solves this perfectly. It’s not cheap but it is small enough to sit unobtrusively next to your other remotes and has a nice power save feature. Crazily it’s not advertised anywhere as being Mac compatible but it’s recognized by Mac OS X using the built in HID profile – no drivers needed. it works perfectly and all Apple shortcuts are available by pressing that (windows-esque) Start button by the space bar.
The only things missing from making this a killer remote would be a row of programmable keys along the top for controlling media apps & if that cool looking cursor pad (bottom left) could be used for controlling the mouse.
Anyone else have any good (or bad) experiences with media center remotes?
Contributed by: Ditch


Lapvantage Loft Elevates Your Ride in Style

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 14th, 2006, 10:00
Category: Accessory

lapvantage-loft.jpgIf you’re like me, you use your MacBook/PowerBook on a desk connected to an external monitor and keyboard. The problem with this setup has been what to do with the notebook computer on the desk. Perching your notebook on a desk makes it too low to see effectively and also makes it run hot due to inadequate airflow below the unit.
This problem has spawned a cottage industry of podium stands for notebook computers that are used on desks. Back in 2002 I wrote about the Lapvantage Dome which I used on my desk exclusively until yesterday when I replaced it with an updated version, the Lapvantage Loft (US$80).
The Lapvantage Loft is an ergonomic laptop stand that supports up to 15 pounds and fits most notebooks with 15-inch displays. Other notebooks will also fit although they may hang off the sides slightly.
The Loft is available with either a black or a silver pedestal and the polished acrylic platform is available in either blue, clear or white. Pictured above is the silver/blue configuration. The Loft is different from the Dome model in that it leaves space underneath the platform for storage of things like keyboards and other desk clutter. A built-in swivel base rotates 360 degrees for easy screen sharing.
The Lapvantage Loft is extremely ergonomic, looks cool and will clean up the look of your desk in a hurry.


Proporta Retractable USB Cable for Treo 650

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 14th, 2006, 09:19
Category: Accessory

proporta-treo-sync.jpgAs you’re already aware, I have a thing for retractable cables. One of my favorites is the Retractable USB Sync and Charge Cable for the Treo 650 (US$16) from Proporta.
Retractable cables save room in my gear bag and eliminate the spaghetti-like tangle of cables that confounds me every time I need to grab something quickly.
The best thing about the USB sync cable for Treo is that it charges the phone while connected to USB – a major omission from the stock USB cable that ships from PalmOne. The bundled cable that comes with the Treo requires you to connect a separate AC adapter to the USB cable to charge the phone. Duh.
The only con that I have found is that there’s no dedicated sync button on the retractable USB sync cable, like there is on the PalmOne version. But it’s easy enough to tap into the HotSync app and initiate your sync from there.
In realted news: Proporta is giving a free pink silicone case to anyone who buys a case for their 30GB 5G iPod (while supplies last).


REVIEW: Radtech BT400 G5 Bluetooth Headset

Posted by:
Date: Sunday, March 5th, 2006, 22:48
Category: Accessory

radtech-bt400-g5-headset.jpgI’ve been testing the BT400 G5 Bluetooth Headset from Radtech (a sponsor of this site) for a few days now and like it. The BT400 connects to virtually any Bluetooth phone (in my case a Treo 650) and allows you to talk handsfree and remain in compliance with many local laws for using your mobile phone while driving.
The BT400 weighs 20g, fits me perfectly and works well. The rubber earhook is easy to switch from right to left ear operation. It’s slightly larger than my other headset (Motorola’s H500) so it may not be a good choice for small ears.
Pairing the BT400 to my phone was easy and sound quality is clear – no one I spoke to could tell that I was using a headset. Rubber ribs on the outside of the BT400 contain buttons for power/mute and talk/transfer, but sometimes it is difficult to tell the buttons from the ribs.
The volume buttons makes the BT400 loud enough to hear the caller clearly – which is more than I can say for the H500 which is barely audible sometimes.
The BT400 G5 Bluetooth Headset is available in light blue (Dolphin), silver (Marlin) and black (Sea Bass) for US$65 from Radtech. A USB charging cable is available for US$6 extra.
BT400 G5 Headset Specs:

Radio Class: Bluetooth II
Frequency: 2.4 – 2.48 GHz
Rx sensitivity: < -80 dBm
Antenna: Internal - chip-type
Range: 10 meter free-space
Input power: 5V 200-500mA
Battery: Internal Li-Polymer 3.7V, 120mA Rechargeable
Profiles: HSP, HFP, voice dialing, multi-pairing
Power Rating : 5mW (Min) - 10mW (Max)
Standby / Talk time: 250 / 5 hrs
Dimensions: 82 x 53 x 24mm
Weight: 20g

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