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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Energy Vampires Drain Cash

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 16th, 2006, 00:15
Category: Accessory

vampire-adapter-150.jpgThe Dallas Morning News (free reg. req’d) has an excellent article by Terry Maxon about something that has been bothering me for a while – vampires. No, not the type that “vant to suck your blood,” they’re worse. These vampires are in the homes over eveyone reading the PowerPage and you probably have at least five to ten of them. These energy vampires are more commonly known as “wall warts,” “power supplies” or “ac adapters” but make no mistake about it, they’re vampires.
According to the article (Energy vampires drain current, cash) “Electronic gadgets now use 15% of a home’s electricity, sucking power even when off.”

They’ll be receiving video game players, mobile music players, the latest computers and televisions, many with the same characteristic – the ability to keep sucking down electricity even when they’re not in use.
It’s the power adapters that drain a little bit of electricity all the time, even though no device is plugged into them.
It’s the high-definition television that can pull more than 10 watts of power when it’s not turned on. It’s the computer that sips while it sleeps.
The Christmastime electronic harvest spotlights a quiet but expensive change in Americans’ habits: Even as refrigerators, dryers and other big devices get more efficient, consumers are pumping up their utility bills thanks to an ever-growing reliance on personal electronics.

Read the rest of the article at the Dallas Morning News.


How Emory Manages his Media

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 28th, 2005, 20:47
Category: Accessory

5819-large.jpegEveryone dreams of having all their media digitized and available on a server somewhere. The utopia world would be filled with cheap, fast broadband so we could stream this and on-demand that but the reality of the situation is that we still maintain certain amount atoms, mostly in the form of shiny 5-inch discs, and they need to be stored somewhere.
Until we Apple opens the iMovie Video Store and we can stream any title we want to our WiMax-enabled SuperPods we’re forced to manage traditional a bunch media delivery vehicles, namely CDs and DVDs. In this installment, we’ll examine how Emory manages his media.

I have been having a hard time finding out just how it is that I’m supposed to manage the massive amounts of media that get archived onto DVDs and CDs in our house. With most of our movie watching and music listening happening on XBox Media Center these days, I needed a good way to stop keeping things in piles all over the house.
What I came up with is pretty simple, and wound up being very inexpensive to boot.

Read the rest of Emory’s “un-informed, un-important blathering” at


Capacity Meter 1.1.1 a Must-Have for PowerBookers

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Date: Tuesday, November 8th, 2005, 01:06
Category: Accessory

capacity-meter-ss.jpgIs your PowerBook battery not quite lasting the advertised 4.5 hours? Well no one’s does, but you should be be able to get at least 3 hours and 45 minutes according to Apple. If you’re getting something less, your battery is probably getting a little old and has lost some of its capacity.
Branden Keller’s excellent freeware tool Capacity Meter 1.1.1 is truly a must-have utility for all PowerBook users.
Capacity Meter displays and tracks information about your PowerBooks battery, including capacity, amperage, current, and voltage. Using this information and your machine’s specifications, Capacity Meter will let you know the current status of your battery and track degradation over time.
Capacity Meter 1.1.1 is Tiger compatible and free, so check your battery today.


More on AC Adapters

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 7th, 2005, 22:12
Category: Accessory

madsonline-microadapter.jpgTidbits’ Travis Butler has posted a follow-up to his article Comparing Three AC Adapters:

After last week’s article on PowerBook AC adapters was published (see “Comparing Three AC Adapters” in TidBITS-803), I’ve received several messages from people about the MadsonLine MicroAdapter and the MacAlly adapter – specifically, about the amount of power they provide.
I wrote that the MicroAdapter wasn’t recommended for use with newer PowerBooks (the 1 GHz PowerBook G4 Titanium, and all of the 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks) because it provides only 45 watts of power, compared with the 65 watts provided by the adapter Apple ships. Several people wrote in to say they were, in fact, using the MicroAdapter with those machines, and that it appeared to work fine – though some reported the adapter getting “pretty warm.” One person suggested the overheating was the main reason MadsonLine had to disclaim using it; another that the higher wattage requirement on newer PowerBooks was only under peak usage, and that when performing less-intensive tasks a lower-power adapter works fine.

Read the rest of the article at Tidbits.


Tidbits Compares Three PowerBook AC Adapters

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005, 00:28
Category: Accessory

lucille.jpgTidbits has a excellent piece by Travis Butler comparing three PowerBook AC adapters, including the new Lucille AC adapter from Madsonline:

Back in the days of the Wallstreet PowerBook G3, the best AC adapter I could find was the MicroAdapter by MadsonLine. It was about half the size of the power block that Apple used at the time, and even smaller than the yo-yo adapter that Apple switched to later. When the white iBook and Titanium PowerBook G4 came out, with a different-sized power socket, MadsonLine went their previous adapter one better by making the power tip – designed at a right-angle to reduce the amount of clearance needed – a machined aluminum piece instead of molded plastic. Unfortunately, the G4 MicroAdapter didn’t produce enough power to run and charge simultaneously a last-generation Titanium PowerBook, or the 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks. And so for a couple of years, I’ve been operating without my preferred adapter, and missing it.

Read the rest of Travis’ piece on Lucille, the Kensington Universal AC/Car/Air Adapter and the MacAlly AC Adapter for PowerBook G4 at Tidbits.