CES: Zoom’s Q3 Serves Up Meaty Sound With A Side Of Video

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LAS VEGAS — Most video camera makers concentrate on the video, then poke one (or if you’re really lucky, two) tiny pinholes in it to record sound through. Yeah, like that’s enough.

So Zoom’s approach is to take a honking great, smurf-colored stereo microphone and stick a vidcam, screen and controls on it.

While sound from the mic seemed pretty darn impressive, the $250 Q3’s video capability is bare-bones, recording in 640×480 at 30 fps (but in a Mac-friendly Quicktime format) with only a 2x digital zoom.

But that’s the idea — to put sound first. The guys at the Zoom booth said the idea behind the Q3 was to give sound recordings a little video accompaniment, like say as a way to record what guitar chords sound like for a music student, along with accompanying video of technique.

CES: Sony Debuts The World’s First Digital Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

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LAS VEGAS — More on the noise-cancelling front: Sony has taken the trick tech of their award-winning, $400, MDR-NC500D digital noise-cancelling headphones and dropped them into these tiny new buds.

Like its big brother, the MDR-NC300D uses artificial intelligence to sense then adapt to the type of background noise occurring in the user’s environment; Sony claims an impressive 98.7 98.4 percent noise-reduction. Tne control unit also has a switch that adjusts the sound to one of three settings (anyone remember the bright yellow Sony MEGABASS swicthes?): Movie, Bass, or Normal.

While my rather limited experiences with the NC300D’s bigger brother never fails to amaze me whenever I try them on, the jury’s still on the little guys. The noise-cancelling feature didn’t seem as impressive; plus, you have to deal with the unit’s control dongle — which is bigger than some mp3 players out there.

CES: Audio-Technica Stuffs Its Excellent QuietPoint Noise-Cancelling Tech Into Budget-ish Cans

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LAS VEGAS — Back in September, we reviewed Audio-Technica‘s outstanding ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint noise-cancelling headphones; had we been doling out ratings at that time (we weren’t, because — at the time — we lamely thought ratings were lame), the ANC7bs would have donned a majestic 4.5 turtlenecks.

Seems Audio-Technica thought it could do better.

CES: Altec Lansing’s Down-Firing Speakers, Tiny Dock and Frugal-Minded Earbuds

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Gadget producers seem to have gotten the message that more bang-for-buck is what sells products in the current economic climate. In keeping with this philosophy, Altec Lansing are showing off three new/refreshed budget-minded offerings at CES.

Left: Altec Lansing says its InMotion Compact is the most compact yet in its line of portable docks. The slim little system was designed with some impressive traits: it’s GSM shielded (so no annoying iPhone buzz), runs on AC or four AA batteries and is faux-leather wrapped. Available for $80, Feb.

Center: The Octane Plus 2.1, a three-piece speaker set with a 6.5-inch subwoofer and 3-inch down-firing mid-range speakers. It’s also much prettier than the VS4121 speaker system it replaces. The set runs $80 and will be available this Spring.

Right: Portable sound from Altec Lansing for a Jackson? Yup. Altec Lansing will offer three versions of their neatly designed, $20 MUZX earbuds, including one with pivoting earpieces. Available March.

CES: Hands-On With Samsung’s Nifty NX10 Compact DSLR

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LAS VEGAS — Camera snobs are up in arms about Samsung’s brand new NX10 compact DSLR, which is built on a proprietary lens format, making it incompatible with thousands of lenses out there.

But the NX10 isn’t aimed at lens junkies. It’s meant for soccer moms looking to step up from point-and-shoots, who could give two-hoots that the NX10 is incompatible with other cameras’ lenses.

A quick hands-on at CES gives the impression that Samsung hit the sweet spot. Wifey and I have 30,000 digital pictures of the kids, most of them terrible because they were taken with point-and-shoots. The NX10 is the kind of camera we might like: easy to use, easy to carry around and capable of taking damn fine pictures.

Playing around with it, I can say the NX10 is a well-built, fast and responsive camera that promises the quality pictures of a DSLR without the bulk or complexity.

CES: Companies Must Have An iPhone App or They “Don’t Exist”

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A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps.
A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps. Newsgator's Walker Fenton is second from left.

LAS VEGAS — Businesses must have a mobile app. That was the message from a CES panel discussion of iPhone apps and their impact on culture, technology, advertising and entertainment.

At the session — iPhone Apps-Change Agents-App Breakthroughs, Video, Games, Mobile Engagement and Advertising — panelists urged companies to get working on mobile apps. Not just for the iPhone, but Android and Palm as well.

“It’s like 10 years ago when the debate was: ‘do I have to get a website or not?’” said Walker Fenton, GM of NewsGator’s Media & Consumer Products. “People were unsure, but these days, the answer is obvious: if you’re not on the Web, it’s like you don’t exist.”

Fenton added that companies must be on the iPhone.

“It’s almost a requirement,” he said. “You’ve got to be on the iPhone; same as you’ve got to be on the Web.”

He concluded: “If you are wondering about whether or not to get on the mobile, the answer is ‘yes’.’ Get on the mobile now.”

CES: Good Idea of the Day — Sharing iPhone Apps via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

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A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps.
A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps.

Here’s a good idea for virally marketing apps that Apple should think about — wirelessly beaming apps to other iPhones like the Zune’s music sharing feature.

Microsoft’s Zune is mostly a me-too product, but it’s one great feature is being able to lend music to friends Zune-to-Zune via Wi-Fi. Shared tracks can be played three times, after which they must be purchased from the Zune marketplace. It’s a great idea but tragically underused because there are so few Zunes out there.

CES: Cignus Unveils NAO Symphony To Stream Tunes, Control iPods

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Canada’s Cignius Thursday unveiled a free iPhone app to control its NAO Symphony and NAO Symphony Noir Music Stations. The products let you wirelessly stream music from your iPod, controlled by your iPhone or iPod touch.

“We all know the iPhone and iPod touch are some of the most elegant music players on the planet, but getting that music to play on home speakers can be cumbersome,” Cignias CEO Shawn Saleem said.

Meet the First iPhone-Controlled Augmented Reality Helicopter

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httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aDE5GcriHc

Even though Apple isn’t part of this year’s CES, the floor has been buzzing with news of new hardware accessories for Apple’s multitouch devices. One of the most interesting of these is the AR.Drone, a quadricopter that you can control via iPhone or iPod touch.

As you can see from the video, the four rotors that give it lift are selectively turned on and off as you move your iPhone, and via the chopper’s forward-facing camera, the game positions killer robots for you to fire rockets at through the touchscreen. There’s even multiplayer for AR dogfights. No word on pricing yet, but looks like a heck of a lot of fun to fly if you’re on the floor.

Parrot — AR.Drone