Gear Lust and Loathing 2005

This time of year, everyone and their editor is churning out some sort of gadget list for their December issue. I have decided to share my comments on some of the items mentioned within the December issue of Wired, now on newsstands and in subscribers’ mail boxes, as well as Popular Mechanics. Since Wired wants to give its dead-tree edition a chance to turn a profit, the magazine being a business and all, it delays putting portions of the hard copy on its site for a few days, and the Wired Tools list is one of those delayed articles. This will in no way stop me from said comments.
The Philips LCD TV, “with Ambilight technology,” is intriguing, but even if I had the funds, the layout of my living room–or pretty much any other room, given the furniture we have–precludes my ever having a screen this large. Not to mention that the decades-old-design tube inside my flat-screen Sony 32-inch Vega gives a better picture than a plasma or LCD television. I’m still trying to think of why one would really want the Casio XFER-1000 Wireless Television. Sure, it’s “splash-proof” and floats on the water, but when I’m in the spa, I’m generally trying to do something other than watch television, as in, relax and not think about television–or much else.
I can see where Steve Jobs might be wrong on the whole no-video-iPod thing, with regard to Creative’s Zen Portable Media Center, but only with regard to a certain segment of users. A segment I am not sure is large enough to sustain such a market. If you are stuck on some sort of public transportation for half an hour or more each day, one way, then I can see having a Zen PMC. It would certainly be better to have the Zen snatched from you on the subway, rather than your iBook playing back the better-quality DVD of the same movie. Though at $500, I’m not sure if it would be worth it to have the Zen snatched, either. The Zen also appeals to a certain segment of power user who doesn’t mind ripping movies from DVDs or other digital sources, such as a TiVo, but I do not believe that devices like the Zen will have the same widespread appeal as the iPod, which is clearly what Creative is hoping for. Of course, if you simply cannot wait for a video iPod, you can at least look like you have one with AMA Technologies’ DVX-POD.
Why in the world would I want to spend $1,200 on the Samsung DVDL 1200 II portable DVD player when my 12-inch PowerBook has the same screen size, just as good battery life, and oh, in addition to being a fully-functional notebook computer, also plays DVD movies? Why would anyone want to spend $1,200 on a portable DVD player? Because they don’t know any better?
I do like Ace Karaoke’s K-Box, but since its 120 GB hard drive can only hold 12 DVD movies, you’re better off spending your $800 on one of those 100-disc CD/DVD changers and hooking that in to your home entertainment system.
If you’re the ultimate Star Wars geek and want to have speakers that look like they came out of Vader’s summer condo, you can spring three hundred smackers on Solid Acoustics’ Mini Speakers.
There is a part of me that wants to buy Damien a set of Pedestrian Turn Signals for his jaunts around NYC. I like the idea of the Energizer Quick Switch flashlight; slap in any kind of batteries you want, get the same brightness from the bulb. If you’re in the mood to depress yourself with regard to your personal finances, by all means pick up Discovery’s Amazing Money Jar. Right now, with a toddler running rampant, the LEGO Block-O-Dile might be a great way to get him to help pick up his blocks. And speaking of little ones, don’t worry about jagged edges the next time you open up a can of fruit cocktail for dessert, so long as you’re using OXO’s Smooth Edge Can Opener.
The D-Skin: are you freaking kidding?
I can see keeping bunches of the Pak-Lite LED Flashlight around the house, in the car, in my backpack… Pak-Lite should consider partnering up with one of the battery big boys and do a mass donation to our troops fighting overseas. This is just the type of utilitarian device the uniformed personnel would dig, and it beats the luggable issue flashlight on weight, packability, and quite possibly personal illumination.
If you absolutely must have your coffee stay hot, or your soda stay cold, throughout your entire commute, then get an Auto Can Cooler. Good luck with finding a place in the car for it.
I still want a keychain Wi-Fi sniffer of some sort. Not that I usually go any where were I’m actively seeking hot spots out, though the recent vacation to Arkansas was certainly high-speed-net-access unfriendly. Also on the keychain could reside the Iomega Micro Mini 1 GB drive. This little USB wonder is a third of an ounce in weight. Is the Kensington Microsaver Retractable Lock as easy to pick with a Bic pen as the rest of the Kensington lock line?
My wife is ready for a new Crackberry, and we’re eyeing the Blackberry 7100. It would be nice if there were a 7100c that would run on Cingular’s network; my wife could move her mobile number over to the 7100 and be done. Seeing as how her employer will likely be springing for the device and service, however, I guess she’ll just have two devices. The 7100 is an interesting departure for the Blackberry line, and I’m curious to see the Crackberry crowd’s response to the new keyboard layout. Blackberries are already insanely popular, and this new model could give serious competition to the current smartphone ubermensch, and object of my techno-lust, the Treo 650. Curse you, PalmOne, for being sucked in to an exclusivity deal with Sprint. I want my Cingular Treo now! With my birthday and Christmas both in the same month, this is the gift I crave!
Motorola is blitzing the airwaves with commercials of the Razr V3. I got to play with one at the local Cingular store when I went hunting for a case for my T616. Overall, I’m unimpressed. What is impressive is the slim compactness of the phone, but that’s about it. Motorola makes a big case over the keypad, “chemically etched into a single piece of nickel-plated copper alloy to take the place of protruding buttons,” according to Wired. I like my buttons to protrude, at least a little bit; it allows dialing by touch. Jon got a chuckle when I shared that observation with him, saying he can’t remember the last time he dialed from touch, making extensive use of his phone-of-the-moment’s address book and voice-dial features. Touche. My friends and associates know I am no Luddite, but I like having my options open. Give me the address book, voice dialing, and the ability to dial by touch, should I want.
Speaking of voice dialing, someone call me when the Jawbone goes wireless. I really dig the concept of the headset, but wired sets are so twentieth century. It limits what models you can support, from a hardware standpoint, and the current Jawbone is no exception.
For the price, you cannot not add a Pelican F1 flashlight to your photo kit. Plus, it’s guaranteed forever; in Pelican’s parlance, “You break it, we replace it… forever!” Just don’t take it diving…
The item I would love to add to my photo kit is Canon’s EOS 1Ds Mark II. Drool. At seven grand, sans lens, however, I don’t see this 16.7-megapixel, 35mm-equivalent digital SLR making it in to my bag any time soon. I have been extremely pleased with my PowerShot G3, and would like to add a S500 Digital Elph to the kit line-up. Maybe since the Treo 650 is currently unavailable…
Something tells me the Flybar pogo stick has “lawsuit” written all over it.
One might not think that a web site with the URL of would sell, well, tools. One would be wrong, as Popular Mechanics has picked their Stiletto TiBone Solid Titanium Hammer as the “Hammer of the Gods.” I think the Craftsman model I use about once a month will suffice, and I’ll keep the two hundred bucks, thanks very much.
Finally, I think that Garmin’s iQue 3200 is the result of a backwards licensing deal. The iQue integrates Garmin’s GPS and mapping software with the Palm OS in a PDA-sized package. Personally, I think PalmOne needs to be licensing Garmin’s stuff, and rolling it in to the Treo 700, or whatever the next revision of the top-tier smartphone is going to be called.