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All posts tagged "hardware"

Friday, September 28, 2012

AQ Audio SmartSpeaker With AirPlay

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:53 PM

"At first glance the AQ Audio SmartSpeaker may seem like a smart but somewhat unremarkable portable wireless/AirPlay speaker in the vein of the JawBone Jambox or Audyssey Lower East Coast."

If you own any iDevices or like to wirelessly stream music from iTunes, the AQ's SmartSpeaker is a great modern looking unit you may want to take a good look at. Unlike the JamBox, the SmartSpeaker eschews bluetooth for AirPlay. This change allows the SmartSpeaker to not only stream music from iPod Touches, iPads or iPhones but from iTunes as well.

For those of you who do not want to use a device made by Apple, connection to the speaker is also available via the 3.5mm port. Android and DLNA support are in the works in addition to direct connect. No word if this capability will require a purchase of new speaker or will the hardware be capable of supporting the new firmware.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Canon Announces EOS 6D: Canon's Answer to the Nikon D600

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:44 AM

Phew, it is going to be a busy day around here for me! Let's start with the main event: Canon has announced the EOS 6D, a cheaper 35mm-sized sensor camera aimed at the Canon crowd. It has a 20 megapixel sensor, but unlike the Nikon D600, Canon has done its old trick of using a lesser AF system: In this case, it is a new 11 point system with just one cross sensor. Canon claims it will be able to focus in darker environments, so maybe it will make up for the single cross point. Or maybe it won't. The rest of the specifications mostly matches up to its status as the kid brother to the 5D-series: 63 zone metering system, 4.5 frame continuous advance, a 3.2" VGA LCD display, a 97% viewfinder, a 1/180 flash sync speed. Video is available, and it is pretty much like any EOS DSLR: 1080p at 24, 25, and 30 FPS. There is also WiFi and GPS built-in, and with the right app on a smartphone (Android and iOS are supported), the phone can be used as a remote viewfinder. Ships in December for US$2100 for the camera alone, or US$2900 with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. See the read link for a preview by!

Canon Releases a Trio of Powershot Compact Cameras: The G15, S110 and SX50 HS

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:43 AM

Moving on, Canon also has announced three compact cameras. Let's start with the Canon Powershot G15. It is the successor to the G12, and the main upgrades come in the form of a new 12 megapixel sensor, and a much faster optically stabilised 4x 28-140mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens. The camera also gains a faster AF system and a 3" VGA LCD. 1080p video at 24fps is available, and the camera is also smaller now. That, however, does not come without a price: The G15 no longer features an articulating arm for the LCD, and also loses the dedicated ISO dial. The camera will ship in October for US$500.

Up next, is a modest update to the S100, the Powershot S110. The new model gains WiFi, a touchscreen, and supposedly has a tweaked 12 megapixel sensor. The lens is still the optically stabilised 5x 24-120mm equivalent f/2.0-5.9 lens, and the ring control is still present. In keeping with the "What Canon Giveth, Canon Taketh Away" theme this Photokina, the S110 loses the built-in GPS that the S100 had. Ships in October for US$450.

Finally, there is the SX40 HS update, the crazy Powershot SX50 HS. Crazy because it features a 50x zoom lens. That's right. The optically stabilised 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 lens is the camera's main talking point. Is there anything else to talk about? Same 12 megapixel sensor, and well... 50x zoom lens. Ships in October for US$480. More photos and details at the links below. Canon Powershot G15 and Canon Powershot SX50 HS Canon Powershot S110

Panasonic Announces DMC-GH3 and Lumix G X 35-100mm f/2.8 Lens

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:43 AM

Alright. I want this. Who wants to donate? The new Panasonic GH3 is my current mirrorless camera of choice, provided the new 17 megapixel (16 megapixel output) sensor delivers on its image quality promise. It features a new AF system that promises to be really fast with a claimed 0.07 seconds acquisition speed, a new weather-resistant magnesium alloy body, twin control dials, new OLED 3" VGA screen and OLED HD EVF, 6 FPS continuous stills shooting, and the star of the show: 1080p videos at 60 FPS, in codecs that go from 50 Mbps to 72 Mbps, depending on the type. The layout system looks really good (ISO button in the right place), and yea, you can tell, I am smitten. There is no word on availability or pricing, but the latter figures I have been seeing include US$1300 to US$2000. I hope it's the former and not the latter. See DPReview's Preview!

Panasonic also announced the optically stabilised 35-100mm f/2.8 lens. Weather-sealed as well, like the 12-35mm f/2.8, this is a small small lens. It weighs 360g, or 12 oz, and is about 10cm/4" long. Compare this to the 70-200/2.8s legacy DSLRs have to use. Again, no word on pricing or availability. Also, Panasonic teased two lenses, a 42.5mm f/1.2 and a 150mm f/2.8, but since these are development "announcements", don't expect them to come soon. In fact Panasonic lists 2013 to 2014 as possible dates. Panasonic Lumix G X 35-100mm f/2.8 Lens

Fujifilm Announces XF1 Compact Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:40 AM

Phew! Almost done here. Last but not least, is Fujifilm's answer to the Canon Powershot S110. While not quite as small as the S100, it's still smaller than many other serious compacts, like the Panasonic LX7. One thing that the XF1 has over the other cameras, is the bigger 12 megapixel 2/3" sensor like the one found in the X10. The lens is an optically stabilised 4x 25-100mm f/1.8-4.9 one, and actually retracts into the body. To power on the camera, the lens is pulled out first, then the zoom ring turned away from the "off" position. Pretty neat. The other features include a 3" HVGA LCD screen, fast AF, and 1080p video at 30 FPS. Plus, does it not look really neat? See the other colours at the read link, along with a preview! Ships in October for US$500.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It is Time to Stick with Android

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Specs? The UG802 is powered by a Rockchip RK3066 ARM Cortex-A9 dual core processor paired with 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB integrated storage, a microSD card slot for expansion an integrated HDMI connector."

I have been seeing lots of TVs coming out lately that act a lot like smartphones and tablets. Watching a show is no longer enough these days. You have to keep in touch with everyone on Twitter and Facebook, surf the web and look up that actor in that show who does that thing on IMDB. Sadly, a lot of us probably have TVs that do not have all these hip features. While buying a new TV is always a nice proposition, the recent wave of Android on a stick can turn your existing TV into an amazing App experience! The only caveat is that while the sticks are getting cheap in price, don't forget, you will also need a remote or keyboard to go with it!

Nikon Announces D600 FX DSLR Camera, 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikon 1 Lens

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:46 AM

Well, after months and months of leaks, here it is. The Nikon D600. It is basically a D7000 with a 24 megapixel FX sensor, and the video functionality from the D4 and D800. So basically the rest of the camera almost reads like a D7000 spec sheet, with a 39 AF point system, 2016 pixel colour meter, a 5.5 FPS frame rate, a new 3.2" VGA LCD, a 100% viewfinder with 0.7x magnification, 1/200 flash sync speed, and a whole raft of manual features. On the video side, it does 24, 25 and 30 FPS at 1080p, and it can stream uncompressed video over the HDMI port. Nikon seems pretty confident that they will be able to deliver on September 18th (a local Nikon employee mentioned their Thailand plant has been fully restored), and the camera will be available for US$2100 for the body alone, or US$2700 with the AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR lens. Check out the DPReview link for more photos, and a preview of the D600. On a personal note, I am somewhat crushed that there is no D400 - I have been waiting for a D300 replacement for a very long time. Even if I were to not buy it, I wanted to see Nikon's continued dedication to issuing a pro-level DX body. I guess Nikon has given their intentions here.

On the Nikon 1 side, there is the new 18.5mm f/1.8 lens, which brings a fast prime to the 1 Series. On paper it looks like a decent lens, but there is still the issue of having some cameras that are decidedly not targeted at photographers who like to be in control of their camera. Ships in November for US$190. Photo of the lens at the link. Nikon D600 Nikon 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fujifilm Announces X-E1, Two New XF Lenses

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

Well, the camera companies really need to do something about their leaks. Anyway, if the X-Pro 1 was tempting, but the price too rich, Fujifilm's X-E1 could be the answer. Essentially, Fujifilm took the X-Pro1, swapped the hybrid viewfinder for a more bog-standard but higher resolution XGA OLED EVF, improved the autofocus, and made it smaller. Oh, and the rear LCD got a downgrade to a 2.8" HVGA one. Those are the main differences. The camera still uses that 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, which uses a special colour filter array instead of the standard GRGB Bayer Array, and produces images I feel are the best of any APS-C sensor. In fact, I am of the opinion the results can come close to a 35mm-sized sensor! Ships in November for US$1000, and US$1400 with the new 18-55/2.8-4 lens.

The two new lenses are the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens which has optical image stabilisation, and the 14mm f/2.8. I am excited about the latter, as I love my ultra-wides. At US$700 for the former, and US$900 for the latter, I think I might need to start saving up soon. Both lenses also ship in November.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Have An Extra $500? Build A Dream Media Center

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:00 PM

"Between the Blu-Ray player, cable box, laptop, and everything else hooked up to your TV, your home theater situation is a mess. Here's how I rolled all those devices into one awesome media center-the media center of my dreams-for under $500."

Who wouldn't like to have the perfect Media Center working effectively at home, all for under $500? Over at Lifehacker they've made a list of ingredients, written out the recipe, and added some anecdotal information to help you get it built, up, and running. Their claim is that the recipe will enable you to play all of your ripped or downloaded movies, TV shows, and music, your DVD and Blu-Ray discs, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime streaming (depending on your geographic location, of course), plus nearly any other streaming channel you can imagine. In addition, they claim you will be able to play any video game you can install on a computer, from old school emulators to modern PC materpieces. Ok hobbyists, let's get cracking.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are you Ready for a Wireless Audyssey?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

"The new Wireless Speakers are cut from the same mold, but feature redesigned drivers and Bluetooth functionality -- not to mention a snazzy matte white with glossy black finish. $250 snags you pair of speakers, each loaded with two .75-inch tweeters, a duo of three-inch woofers and a dual four-inch passive bass radiators, and all of which are aided by Audyssey's BassXT, EQ and Dynamic EQ DSPs for pushing sound out."

While there are options such as AirPlay or Squeezebox, another option for streaming music is through Bluetooth. Many smartphones and tablets come with this capability, and allow you to pipe your favourite tunes through something more substantial than speakers that are the size of your fingernail. Though with other solutions, including things like uPnP, I imagine that the only benefit of streaming through Bluetooth would be better battery life.

Nikon Announces Trio of Coolpixes, Including World's First Android-based Compact Camera.

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

Quite a few cameras were announced in the past 24 hours. Let's start with the more interesting cameras: Nikon has announced a trio of Coolpixes, the first of which is probably the only Coolpix I might recommend - the Coolpix P7700. While the P7000 series started off as a Canon G-series clone, the P7700 is starting to become its own camera. The first deviation is in ditching the fairly useless optical viewfinder to accommodate a much brighter lens: An optically stabilised 7.1x 28-300mm equivalent f/2.0-4.0 lens. Pretty impressive in all. The sensor is now a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS 1/1.7" sensor, which looks pretty capable. Other features include a now-articulated 3" VGA LCD, 1080p videos at 30 FPS, lots of controls (including three dials) and RAW shooting support. My real complaint? Nikon should have used this template for the V1. Ships in September for US$500. More cameras and links after the break! Read more...

Canon Announces Powershot SX160 IS and SX500 IS Superzoom Digital Cameras

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:59 AM

Let's take a look at Canon's announcement. The first is the Powershot SX160 IS, which is an update to the SX150 IS. Essentially a budget superzoom, the lens has been upgraded to an optically stabilised 16x 28-448mm equivalent f/3.5-5.9 zoom lens. The sensor is now a 16 megapixel CCD; the rest of the camera remains relatively the same. The screen is still a 3" QVGA LCD, and the video mode is still a 720p one. The external controls are similar, as is the AA power source. Canon has promised improved AF and shutter lag performance, after complaints of the SX150's sluggishness. Otherwise, it looks like a minor tweak. Ships in September for US$230.

Next up is the Powershot SX500 IS, which has more in common with the above SX160 than the SX40. It boasts a bigger lens in the form of an optically stabilised 30x 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 zoom lens, and has a 3" HVGA LCD instead of the QVGA one. Oh, and now it uses a lithium ion battery instead. Ships in September for US$330. Hit the link for full specifications and more photos of the cameras.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Best Stand Alone Keyboards

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:20 PM

"Picking the best keyboard for your needs is tough-everyone will have different opinions once they get their fingers on the keys, but there are definitely a few models that stand out above the rest, and plenty that are probably better than the ones that came with your computer."

Recently, LifeHacker asked its readers to vote on their favorite keyboards. Lifehacker then pulled out the top five keyboards from the list of 600 nominations. The resulting list is comprised of a wide variety of styles. From the thin and light Apple wireless keyboard to the mechanical DAS keyboard. The top five favorites are listed as: Apple wireless keyboard, Microsoft 4000 series, Logitech G series, DAS keyboard and Logitech K series.

Hit the read link to see the readers' reasoning behind their nominations.

Engadget's Back to School "Guide" for Digital Cameras 2012

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

"Your Facebook friends and future employers deserve an accurate account of those glory days, and you'll need a proper snapper to get the job done. College is as good a time as any to learn responsibility, but don't expect to walk out of the experience with all your gear unscathed."

What do you get when gadget editors pick cameras for students? You get US$3000 SLRs in the equation. I'm not sure what kind of college these people went to, but I am quite sure most students aren't going to be able to splurge that kind of money, especially in these times. In fact, there are a lot of high-end picks here, when there are plenty of cheaper but good cameras out in the market. Particularly for DSLRs - there're competent cameras like the Canon Rebel T4i/EOS 650D or the higher-specified Nikon D7000 that will take great pictures without breaking the bank. What are your own personal recommendations?

Friday, August 17, 2012

When A Router Aspires To Be More

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"However, if your needs are limited to casual usage, such as sharing documents and streaming music and photos, then a router with built-in network storage capability -- one that comes with internal storage or can host an external storage device and shares that with the rest of the network -- fits the bill better."

I would have to agree with the first suggestion made in the article, that if you have serious storage needs, a dedicated NAS is the way to go. Networking companies have been looking for ways to differentiate themselves by adding more features to their routers. From NAS capabilities, to sharing USB printers to cloud functionality. However, if you are on a budget, a router can function as a competent NAS. A decent NAS can cost quite a few shiny pennies, where a NAS capable router can be had for dirty pennies. Transfer rates will be slower, but it does mean that you have one less device to manage for your home "data center."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Build a Better Mouse and the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Picking the best mouse to use is a pretty personal decision—it often comes down to taste and how the mouse feels under your hands, but there are definitely some stand-out models that most of us would recommend to friends if they asked us."

A lot of people are on the tablet craze where they touchy touchy their data, a lot of people still use a mouse as one of their main interface to a computer. A typical computer comes with a mouse that functions, but tends to be very basic. For those that use computers for a living, spending some coin on a more advanced mouse can make a huge difference in productivity and comfort. While the list LifeHacker provides tends to be more gaming focused, many of them function very well as desktop mice, and with extra buttons, it can make things like web surfing much easier. I am partial to the MX Revolution myself, but preference is very personal.

What surprises me is that Microsoft is missing from this list. I am a staunch Logitech fan, using their hardware for most peripherals I have, I must admit that Microsoft also puts out some very good mice and keyboards. What works best for you if you want to upgrade? Go to a brick and mortar store and see how each fits your hand. Reviews are great, but we are talking about a device that you are likely to spend years with.

Logitech And Skype Team Up On TV Cam

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 10:00 AM

"The TV Cam HD is compatible with any HDMI-equipped TV, and can use either Wi-Fi or ethernet to hook up to the internet. The device is pre-loaded with Skype-running on what we're not quite sure-so you can just use it to log in to your existing account and make video calls, or proper phone calls using credit."

If you've ever wanted to use your TV as a Skype-compatible device then this product may interest you. You'll need an HDMI-equipped TV to connect this device to, but as long as you have a Wi-Fi or ethernet connection to your TV you will be all set. Simply log in to your existing account and make video calls, or proper phone calls using credit. If you get a call while your TV is off it will still ring, alerting you that someone wants to Skype. Some expect that this sort of capability will be built into future TVs, but if you just bought a new one and plan to keep it for years to come, this option may be very attractive.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Iomega ix2 NAS Drive

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 AM

"NAS drives are getting smarter and smarter, and the Iomega ix2 is no exception. Priced at $400 for 1TB, this compact drive is actually more of a mini-computer and features "apps" that allow it to become more than just a storage dump."

The updated Iomega ix2 NAS drive contains 256MB of RAM and is powered by a Marvell Kirkwood processor clocking in at 1.6GHz. In addition to typical NAS drives, the ix2 can connect and monitor up to five wireless camera. This coupled with the included SecureMind program, the ix2 can record live video from the cameras directly to the unit.

The Iomega ix2 comes in 2, 4 or 6TB configurations and is available from $200.

Friday, August 3, 2012

TRENDnet TV-IP572PI HD Network Camera

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:00 PM

"The web interface was functional and practical, especially considering the budget-friendly price tag of the camera. The camera's Live View page has options for configuring the camera, indicating if motion detection is tripped, indicating if recording is on, stream selection, snapshot capture, local recording, Listen and Talk functions, and also Digital Zoom."

SmallNetBuilder recently reviewed the TRENDnet TV-IP572PI HD Network Camera and came away impressed with its abilities considering the price. The TV-IP572PI camera has 4 built-in infrared LEDs for night vision, light sensr, microphone, focus ring and a couple of LED indicators. It is fairly simple to setup and has the ability to record based on motion in day or night time. The TV-IP572PI is available on Amazon for $144.73.

For the full review, click on the read link.

Full Size Desktop PC Cases A Thing Of The Past

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:08 PM

"Bit-tech and Custom PC writer Antony Leather strolled into the Labs the other day and, proud of his work, showed me a system he'd just built for an upcoming feature. It's an impressively slick machine: Core i5-3570K, Nvidia GeForce GTX 680, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a custom water-cooling loop, all put together with the sort of fastidious tidiness you'd expect."

Components are getting smaller and smaller so its only logical the cases that holds them get smaller too. With the ever expanding availability of space efficient cases, mini/micro version of components, high efficient cooling systems and solid state drives, perhaps there is no longer a need for the classic full size tower PC case.

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