21
Sep/09
0

HDMI Cable Scam, Fight for the best

If you have purchased a new HDTV set recently, you are already familiar with HDMI cables. If you are thinking about purchasing an HDTV anytime soon, you are about to be initiated. The problem is that HDMI cables have become a popular way to scam customers. If you know about this scam, you will be able to save yourself a lot of money.

So let’s start at the beginning. When you own an HDTV, you need to have a way to get a high definition signal onto the screen. The signal can come from a cable box, a DVD or Blueray player, a video game console or a satellite antenna. The easy, high tech way to carry that signal from the video source to the screen is a piece of wire called an HDMI cable.

An HDMI cable truly is an innovation. It carries all the video information to the screen in digital form, plus it carries all the sound information. Just a few years ago it took five or more cables to carry all this information and it wasn’t digital, meaning that it could degrade along the way. With HDMI it is all in one slim cable. It couldn’t be easier to connect things like cable boxes to a new HDTV.

So where’s the scam? You can find the scam by going to any big box electronics retailer and looking in the cable aisle. There you will find HDMI cables priced as low as $25 or $30 (if not, definitely head toward your local discount retailer for better prices). But you will also find HDMI cables priced above $100. And if you talk to a sales person, he will definitely be steering you toward the most expensive model. That is the scam. You can understand the scam if you understand how an HDMI cable works and what it does.

Let’s begin by going back in history to the birth of really expensive cables. It started with speaker wire. When you connect a normal speaker to a normal stereo system, you are sending both a signal (in the form of an oscillating wave) and a lot of power (potentially hundreds of watts) through the speaker cable. Someone realized that to send a lot of power, a thick cable would cause less distortion. Thus, mega cables were born. And they were expensive.

But with an 10m HDMI cable, you aren’t sending any oscillating analog waves, nor any power. What you are sending is a low-power digital signal. The digital signal is either on or off, and it is impossible to distort it without ruining it. The great thing about a digital signal is that, even if there is a little noise in the cable (and there always is, no matter how good the cable), the TV will clean it up when it interprets the digital signal. The whole beauty of moving to a digital world is that it eliminates distortion completely.

What this means to you is that there really is no such thing as a “better” HDMI cable. Either an HDMI cable works or it does not. If it doesn’t work, you will immediately know it. Your screen will freeze, or it will skip frames, or it will show big square blocks instead of a picture. It will be completely obvious that there is a problem. In that case you need to throw the cable away.

But if an HDMI cable is working correctly, your TV’s picture will look exactly the same no matter how much the cable costs. Paying more for a cable will have no effect on picture quality.

Now that you know this, you can see what you need to do as a consumer. When buying an HDMI cable, you can buy on price and get the cheapest one.

That being said, there is one two things you do need to be aware of when purchasing an HDMI cable. First, you have to get the right length. If the cable isn’t long enough, it won’t reach to the HDTV. Second, HDMI cables have version numbers. For example, version 1.3 of HDMI can carry twice as much data as prior versions. If you buy a high-end HDTV that needs a version 1.3 cable, you need to make sure that the cable you buy supports version 1.3. Otherwise you are not getting everything that the equipment has to offer. In that case buy the cheapest version 1.3 cable available, and it will work fine.

18
Sep/09
0

3D Laptops been developed by Dell and HP

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After the IFA show in Berlin a few weeks ago, it’s clear that 3D is getting a big push by some powerful players in consumer electronics. Unfortunately, you won’t find many editors around here chompin’ at the bit to replace their new Full HD flat screens for a 3D-capable one… and we’ve seen the demos! Now a Commercial Times report has HP and Dell signed on with Wistron to produce 3D laptops — Lenovo and Sony are still negotiating. Of course, we’ve already seen desktop systems powered by NVIDIA’s GeForce 3D Vision solution. And rumors have swirled in the past regarding a possible HP laptop using 18.4-inch 3D panels developed by Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) and a Wistron-developed 3D laptop solution based around NVIDIA’s Vision technology. Thing is, if 3D isn’t that compelling on screens 40-inches and above, how’s it going to woo consumers at this size?

18
Sep/09
0

LG Announces Its First Android Mobile Phone

Funny, there was a time when smartphones were deemed smart because they allowed users to edit documents, images, make presentations and so on without having to carry around an uncomfortable laptop every day. Nowadays, a smartphone allows you to interact with every social network known to the world, play multimedia files and, of course, (but not the main attraction) edit documents, images and so on.

A smartphone must have a touchscreen interface, QWERTY keyboard and to compete with other “smarter” phones such as the iPhone. Speaking of a smartphone with QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen interface, LG has announced its first Android-powered smartphone, dubbed LG-GW620. The gadget features a 3-inch touchscreen, as well as the above mentioned QWERTY keyboard. There aren’t a lot of things known about it though it is promoted as a very social networking-friendly mobile phone.

“The LG-GW620 will appeal to first-time smartphone customers by offering a new and different kind of user experience,” said Dr. Skott Ahn, President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “Our objective is to provide a wide selection of smartphones to satisfy the diverse preferences of today’s consumers. This Android phone is just one of many smartphone models we plan to introduce worldwide in the years ahead.”

In case you don’t remember, this is a part of LG’s attempt (announced earlier this month) to establish a foothold in the smartphone business. Besides the LG-GW620, it has also unveiled 13 new Windows Mobile 6.5 OS using phones available in the following 16 months. As for this baby, it will be made available in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2009 for an unspecified price.

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18
Sep/09
0

Nikon Goes All Green with New Ecobins Binoculars

Nowadays, pretty much every major company out there pays a lot of attention to the environment protection issues, given the fact that they represent a very sensitive subject for quite a lot of possible customers. And that’s also the case with Nikon, which has just introduced a new pair of binoculars that have got “green” written all over them.

Dubbed the Ecobins, these 10×25 binoculars feature Eco-Glass lead- and arsenic-free lenses and prisms. In addition, non-chloride rubber and no harmful inks or dyes are used during production. Additional premium optics features include aspherical eyepiece lenses that provide distortion-free viewing, internal blackening to minimize light loss inside binocular tubes and multi-coated lenses that offer maximum brightness, contrast and true color.

Ecobins offer generous eye relief, 15.9 mm, and turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, thus allowing the binoculars to be used as comfortably and effectively by eyeglass wearers as those with uncorrected vision. Diopter control with click-stop adjustment corrects normal right eye and left eye imbalance. Moreover, these things have a very compact, rugged, waterproof and fog proof construction.

What’s really interesting here is that Nikon’s green initiative goes beyond the materials used within the binoculars themselves. Hence, the rest of the sales package is also very eco-friendly, since the carrying case and strap are constructed from environmentally-minded Lenzing TENCEL fiber that is fully biodegradable.

Also, the Nikon Ecobins packaging is constructed from eighty-five percent post-consumer waste and is printed on recyclable FiberStone paper. This recyclable paper is completely TREE-FREE and made from limestone collected as waste material from existing quarries for the building and construction industry.

17
Sep/09
0

Toshiba’s Wireless universal docking station

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Wireless docking stations have been around for years now, but the main issue has been bandwidth. Sure, it’s easy to send a wireless mouse signal through the air, but try shoving 720p video, four USB signals and a little bit of arrogance though those highly-spaced particles. Toshiba’s new dynadock wireless U USB docking station does a commendable job of doing the best it can with what it has, tapping into wireless USB technology in order to nix the need for your laptop to actually be seated into your docking station. The device can be setup to auto-connect when your machine is in range, and a one-touch undock button carefully shuts down all of your peripherals as you exit. There’s six USB 2.0 sockets (included two of the Sleep-and-Charge variety), integrated 7.1 audio and support for a VGA / DVI monitor with resolutions as high as 1,680 x 1,050. Nah, that’s not quite 1080p, but we’ll take it for now. The $299.99 asking price, however, is a bit harder to swallow.

16
Sep/09
0

Panasonic: EVERLED light bulbs lasts for 19 years

panasoniceverledLong-lasting light bulb technology is nothing new — people have been trying to up the lifespan these bad boys for some time. Long-lived light bulbs are generally uber-expensive, too, but we like to keep our eyes on such things. Panasonic’s just unveiled the EVERLED, a line of bulbs set to be launched in Japan at the end of October. Lighter and more efficient than other LEDs on the market, these babies use 85 lumens per watt for a 40W bulb. Though the bulbs are not going to be cheap — about $40 — the company claims they’ll have a lifespan of 19 years, bringing the overall costs down considerably. Still, we’d have to see them last that long to believe it.

16
Sep/09
0

Jupiter Systems Upgrades PixelNet Display Wall System

I know there’s one dream that every gamer out there shares: the idea of having a wall display system. The possibilities in media playback and especially gaming would be almost endless if it didn’t cost huge amounts of money, amounts which most do not have. Unfortunately, this new device does not remove the “huge amounts of money” part but does improve on current technologies in order to deliver higher quality images and audio to those that afford a wall display system.

Introducing the newly enhanced PixelNet Display Wall system from Jupiter. Though the system isn’t brand new, it has received an almost complete overhaul from the audio output node to its multiple wall support. John Stark, Director of Product Management and Technical Services at Jupiter, said the following regarding the upgrading of the PixelNet.

“With the introduction of these new capabilities. […] Jupiter makes good on the promise of its PixelNet technology to provide a comprehensive, integrated, and seamless platform for AV control. The enhanced system offers all of the benefits of the PixelNet approach – scalability, flexibility, 24×7 reliability, and low cost of installation and maintenance – and it enables Jupiter to provide all the capabilities demanded by users in security, government, defense, transportation, utilities, corporate management, entertainment, healthcare, and education.”

Among the upgrades, there is an enhanced HD SDI input node that now offers full 3G-SDI support, a new Quad SD input node, a redone audio output node that can even send multi-channel encoded formats, as well the possibility of coloring each display’s frame or adding labels via a text editor.

As for the new Jupiter Streaming Video System 8D, Mister Stark said that “The Jupiter Streaming Video System 8D builds on Jupiter’s vast experience in delivering command and control visualization systems and addresses the need for an economical and flexible method of decoding digital video found in heterogeneous environments. […] No other solution offers the flexibility of simultaneously supporting so many video decoding standards.”

I guess all I need now is to find a way to afford this, the displays and paying a huge electric bill.

15
Sep/09
0

3D Home Judgments on the Technology

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With the the big 3D push coming in 2010, I planted my eyes on three types of 3D technologies displayed at CEDIA (home theater expo) that you may have in your next TV…and passed some judgments without pulling any punches.

It should be noted, all designs require glasses.

Panasonic’s 3D Plasma Concept
The Tech: Plasma with Active Shutter (alternating left eye, right eye progressive frames)

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As a baseline reference to get our bearings, I took yet another look at Panasonic’s 103-inch plasma display that we’ve seen twice before. My original impressions stand. It’s decent—and definitely the best technology of the three that we saw at CEDIA. Why? There’s virtually no flicker in the image because of plasma’s instantaneous response times/ability to push legitimate high frame rates. Plus, it probably helps that we’re talking about a 103-inch display (that has its own trailer). The bigger a 3D display, the better the illusion. But glasses aside, it’s not what I’d deem a perfect experience. You see ghosting around some objects. And…OK, I still can’t ignore the damned glasses. It creates an inherent distance from the image inducing an unintentionally ephemeral viewing experience.

Sony’s LCD Concept
The Tech: 240Hz LCD with Active Shutter (alternating left eye, right eye progressive frames)

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Even Panasonic will tell you that 240Hz is the baseline speed needed for an LCD to pull off 3D. But you know what? 240Hz isn’t enough. Watching Pixar’s Up, the color and sharpness are both great, but there’s an absurd level of flicker that’s nominally better than on old timey crank projector. And on this normal-sized LCD, it’s incredibly obvious when 3D objects break the illusion by reaching the TV’s frame. Granted, we’re not talking about a final product here, but the specs seem pretty much identical to what consumers can expect to see in the high-end display market next year.

JVC’s GD-463D10 LCD
The Tech: Polarized filter (two images are interlaced on the screen, each eye sees half the data, glasses don’t need power)

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Of the three technologies here, JVC’s is the only final product that’s actually available now. And it costs $9,153. It’s also easily the worst of the three—completely unwatchable, in fact. The interlaced 3D means that the resolution takes a huge hit. But it’s worse than just a 1080i picture. Your brain can almost make out these lines. I could say more about the tech, but I honestly couldn’t stand to look at the screen for more than 10 seconds at once. Oh, and the kicker? For nine thousand bucks, you still only get two pairs of the cheap, polarized glasses. Sorry kids, Mommy and Daddy are watching TV tonight.

There’s no doubt that some home theater enthusiasts will go out and plop down $5k or more on a commercially available 3D display when they enter the TV lines of major manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic in 2010. But I’m hoping, really hoping, that the public can resist the gimmick until the technology is perfected. To me, that means when we don’t need to deal with these silly glasses at all. But for whatever it’s worth, plasma is definitely looking like the clear front runner in execution.

15
Sep/09
0

The 20-Outlet Power Bar from Fujitsu/NTT Will Prevent Arc Discharges

These two companies pooled their scientific and manufacturing efforts in order to finally break the curse of the open/closed circuit arc discharge and the unfortunate effects it has on our frail bodies. It would seem that a solution has indeed been found and the result is a new power bar and power plug custom-made for a 400V system with high-voltage direct current distribution.

Safety appears to have been the main concern of Fujitsu Component and NTT Facilities as they developed this product. Consequently, by simply throwing a switch, users will supposedly be able to make sure there’s no voltage generation between the terminals of the power plug unless an ICT device or other loading system is in use.

According to Coolest Gadgets, when someone uses such an apparatus, the power plug must go into the outlet, and then the mechanical switch is to be activated so that the internal contact doesn’t remain open. So, this switch is really important, as it allows users to perform the plugging and unplugging in complete safety (there’s no active voltage at the time), especially compared to the commonly used 100V and 200V AC systems.
The two companies took the safety issue a step further, preventing accidental unplugging or faulty insertion incidents. The plug comes with a special module for blocking arcs; by using magnetic force of a high density, it smothers the evilness of an arc occurring when somebody forgets to activate the mechanical switch before plugging something in. With twenty outlets on the same bar, users would indeed appreciate this. Also, because this system doesn’t have any complex mechanical innards or semiconductors, its power consumption needs are very frugal, close to zero, in fact. Still, the device is not yet ready for commercialization – that will happen sometime next year.

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14
Sep/09
0

Dell 24-inch U2410 IPS monitor

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Already seen in Japan, the 24-inch UltraSharp U2410 professional monitor is up for retail on Dell’s US store. The IPS-panel features a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, 6-ms response, 178-degree viewing angles, 1000:1 typical contrast, and 12-bit internal processing (1.07 billion colors), and 96% AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB color space coverage. Connectivity options are vast with jacks for DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, component, composite, and VGA. That’s a lot of rig for $599. Hit the link below if you just have to have it since you won’t find it promoted on the Dell US monitor pages just yet.