hardware - page 20

How New Coating Will Boost iPad Battery Life And Readability [Exclusive]


3M's new coating might make outdoor readability problems a thing of the past. Photo by Louis Rodriguez - http://j.mp/iTDJxa
3M's new coating might make outdoor readability problems a thing of the past. Photo by Louis Rodriguez - http://j.mp/iTDJxa

The iPad 2 already has phenomenal, 10-hour battery life, largely thanks to a combination of Apple’s custom-built, power-sipping A5 chip and the fact that inside, the iPad 2 is mostly battery.

Thanks to a new, cutting-edge tablet coating, though, your next iPad could run for twenty hours or more on a single charge, while providing Kindle-like outdoor readability.

New HDHomeRun Streams Live TV to Your iPad


Ignore the Sony in the background; this tiny gadget is all Apple.


It may not be as pretty as an Apple product (but seriously — what is), and at $180, it’s almost double the price of the ATV. But Elgato’s HDHomeRun comes in swinging for the fences with a trick Apple’s little black coaster doesn’t have: the ability to stream live TV, in HD, to your Mac or iPad — even over a 3G connection.

Weirdly Indestructible, Impact-Absorbing iPad/2 G-Form Cases Now Shipping



Ok, we’re a little baffled why this dude is pulling out an iPad in this sitch. Last-minute conditions-check? Confused about the term “surf the web”?

What’s pretty clear though, is that the blindingly yellow G-Form iPad Extreme Sleeve case ($60) he’s peeling off his iPad is now shipping. We love talking about this case; partly because we’re fascinated with the extreme-sport-derived protective material it’s made from, and partly because we’re mesmerized by the crazy videos G-Form keeps releasing to demonstrate the Extreme Sleeve’s protective ability — which seems formidable.

Right now, it’s only available (thankfully, also in black) from G-Form directly.


Nuu’s New Mini Keyboard/Case Like a Baked Potato, Loaded with Good Stuff



I love the soft tappity-tap of popping out an email, text, IM or 348-page novel on my iPhone’s virtual keyboard. Some people, though, prefer banging around on actual keys.

For them, then, NUU’s new MiniKey might make sense (currently $80 at Amazon): It’s a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard/case with a frilly feature list that includes backlit keys, text-editing shortcuts and a power-saving function that puts the little guy to sleep by severing the BT connection after a lapse of activity; start typing again and voila, it reconnects.


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Is an SSD Size Upgrade From OWC a Good Idea for Your MBA? [Review]



When I first got my Macbook Air, I fell in love with its diminutive profile, speedy boot times and incredible portability, but after living with it for a few months, one thing became glaringly apparent – 128GB was simply not enough room. Having convinced myself it would be at the time or purchase – I have recently found myself umbilically attached to a 500GB USB hard drive for music and photos.

Now, 6 months in, I was faced with two choices – stick the current MBA on eBay and stump up the extra cash for a larger capacity Air – or invest in a 3rd party storage solution. The first option is just stupid, so an upgrade was on the cards.

New Slim iPhone 4 Case Docks With Removable Battery



It sounds like the poster boy (or product) for “have your cake and eat it too”: Third Rail Mobility‘s new backpack-battery system is a slim case (callled the Slim Case, just to be confusing) that allows their removable 1250 mAh Smart Battery to snap on. Smart? Heck, the battery sounds like a genius: Besides being able to power other electronic devices off its micro USB port, “stacked Smart Batteries will automatically and seamlessly transfer power to create as many fully-charged batteries as possible,” says the press release.

The whole kit runs $90, or the case and battery can be bought individually for $40 and $60, respectively. And right now, it’s only available for the iPhone 4 (Android flavors coming soon).

Apple 1 System #82 Lives Again in Turin, Italy



Last fall we reported on the sale of Apple 1 system #82, which sold at a Christie’s auction for over $213,000. A rare piece of computing history, many wondered what the buyer, Italian businessman Marco Boglione, planned to do with his prize purchase.

Turns out like many collectors of old tech, Boglione wanted to fire that puppy up and relive the past! The system was brought to Politecnico di Torino University in Turin, Italy. After a careful power-up sequence designed to gracefully coax 35-year-old transistors back to life, the Apple 1 ran a simple BASIC program displaying the words “Hello Polito” on an old NTSC monitor – to honor the university and (presumably) the famous “Hello, World” program many students of programming are familiar with.

In a fitting meeting of old and new, a MacBook Pro was used to send control instructions to the Apple 1.

ModulR Updates Their Brilliant Modular Case System for the iPad 2



Just like their first kit for the original iPad, ModulR have released a case set of modular accessories for the iPad 2. At the heart of the system is a $40 iPad 2 case (with included hand strap) that features attachment points to which a whole slew of industrial-looking modular accessories can be attached, like a shoulder strap ($20) or a magnetic fridge mount ($15).

ModulR didn’t just resize the old set and slap it onto the iPad 2 — they say they’ve reworked it from the ground up, incorporating user feedback from the original set, resulting in a slimmer case and the ability to customize cases with a corporate logo. Which means it’s probably only a matter of time before a BMW ad features hard-hat wearing workers on the factory floor walking around with BMW-emblazoned iPads, right.

New iPhone Bike Computer, Mount Roll Up to Apple Store



Seems practically everyone has cottoned on to the idea that the iPhone makes for a stellar cycling computer — because hardware that turns the iPhone into a feature-packed riding companion keeps popping up. The latest is Velocomp’s iBike Dash series of app-enhanced hardware stashed inside their waterproof Phone Booth case that work with its free iBike app.

The unit starts out at $200 for the waterproof case with built-in ANT+ receiver and a speed sensor for your bike; $329 will bag you the Deluxe kit that adds a heart-rate strap, cadence sensor and supplemental battery for the iPhone. Velocomp also sells the Phone Booth case only — without the ANT+ electronics in it — for $50.

The waterproof case looks pretty rugged, but pricing strikes us as a tad steep compared with other kits out there from Wahoo, Digifit and New Potato Technologies (even though we were less-than-enthusiastic about the latter).

Mouse Design – the History of Our Favorite Electronic Rodent


Mouse Design

As we move into the touch computing era and our fingers again become the primary pointing device, it’s interesting to look back at the beginnings of earlier forms computer control. Dan Knight has posted a nice retrospective of the first few decades of mouse design over at Low End Mac:

The first computer mouse was carved from a block of wood and used two wheels to track its motion. The first commercial mouse was the Telefunken Rollkugel, an accessory for Telefunken’s computers that replaced the wheels in Engelbart’s design with a ball, making it essentially an inverted trackball.

Early mice started out with more buttons than later models – first three, then two, then whittled down to a single button with the Apple Lisa and Macintosh. It’s inverted cousin, the trackball, had a similarly downward growth trend over time:

…the first trackball used a 5″ Canadian five-pin bowling ball. The trackball first came to popularity with Missile Command, an Atari arcade game introduced in 1980 that used a 4″ ball.

For more see the full story at Low End Mac: Mouse Design 1963-1983

Apple SVP Bob Mansfield Just Sold 99% of His Apple Shares for $13.7 Million



Bob Mansfield is Apple’s Senior Vice President of hardware engineering, who earlier this week sold 99% of his shares in the company for $13.7 million, according to an SEC filing. Mansfield frequently trades his Apple stock; selling shares while they’re at their peak, then buying more as they fall with a 15% employee discount. His latest sale is his largest so far.

On Monday, Mansfield reportedly sold 38,863 of his Apple shares – leaving him with just 501 – each worth $351.89. Over the last three years, Mansfield has sold almost $58.5 million worth of investments, taking home $37.9 million after taxes.

Belkin’s Energy-Use Gadget Will Change How You Live [Review, Earth Day]



This is how much it costs in electricity to run my 13″ MacBook Pro per year, if it were continually left on: $11.20. My 32-inch flat screen TV? That’s a whopping $100/year, if left on; but when it’s off, it’ll only drain to the tune of about 75 cents per year (similarly, my MBP only drains about $2/year in sleep mode).

How do I know this? I’ve been (lame-pun alert) charging around, giddily testing everything in the house with Belkin’s Conserve Insight, a brilliant, $30 tool that measures the energy use of any gadget or appliance that plugs into a wall outlet  — and the results have been (oh, and again) electrifying enough for me to really change my habits.

Just How Green Is Your iPhone? This Infographic Will Show You [Earth Day]




Apple does a pretty good job at being an environmentally conscious company. It seems like towards the end of every keynote, Steve Jobs expounds on what Apple is doing to lower the carbon foot print of their products. To celebrate Earth Day the guys over at Geekaphone created a really great info graphic to show just how eco-friendly the iPhone is. Packed with neat little facts, like how the iPhone 4 reduced emissions by 18% where as the iPhone 3G increased emissions by 22%, the big graphic is worth a look for anyone who wants to grasp the picture of their cellphones impact on the environment.


Solio’s Mono Solar Charger is Cheap and Portable, but Lacks Serious Power [Review, Earth Day]



Your iPhone does more than just make calls. It’s the perfect companion for almost every situation because there’s an app for almost everything. Having taken my iPhone 4 with me on a couple hikes to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I can attest that it’s an amazing tool to keep by your side during outdoor excursions. Of course that is until you see your battery meter dip below 3%. At which point the iPhone 4 becomes just an expensive piece of metal and glass. To aid your charging dilemmas on your next camping trips, Solio has created a great line of portable solar chargers.

Solio’s Mono Charger ($60), combines a high-efficiency solar cell, with a long life lithium-ion rechargeable battery in a solid impact resistant casing for all those adventurers who need battery power no matter where they journey. The design of the device is incredibly simple. Nothing detracts from the solar panel, and it’s very easy to use. To begin charging simply place it in the sun and press the Start button on the back of the device. A red LED light will blink to indicate that it’s collecting energy.

Solio’s Rocsta Solar Charger is Flexible, But Lean on Juice [Review, Earth Day]



The iPhone is a phenomenal tool for a bit of tromping about in the bush; navigation, stargazing, photographing/filming and even staying alive can all be accomplished with the help of the little gadget. That is, if it’s got any juice left.

Solio’s Rocsta ($80) — a solar panel mated to a thin slab of a battery in a sleek, flat, user-friendly housing — seems to have been created with a nod to minimalist adventurous types who want a rugged, no-fuss solar charger aong on their next Iditarod or photo shoot for National Geographic.

Unlimited Remote Access to Everything on Your Computer via Tonido [Daily Freebie]



Just like Pogoplug and ZumoCast (the latter currently MIA from the app store), Tonido is a service that’ll let users stream media and access files on a computer from a mobile device. It sort of combines features from both — it’s completely free, works via a mobile app that connects to server software (free download from Tonido) running the user’s computer and allows access to music, videos, photos and even plain ‘ol documents. In fact, pretty much everything on a connected hard drive is accessable.

The big difference with Tonido though, is that virtually nothing is stored in a cloud — not even your account password (“think of the Tonido server like a giant router” says co-founder Venkat Ramasay). Don’t want to use your computer as the server? Tonido sells a remarkably-Pogoplug-looking NAS device for $99 that you can plug an external HDD or USB stick into. Ramasay says the software footprint is also very small, and that’s it’s also intended to run on home routers.  The next version will also support Airplay.

The interface seems a little rough around the edges — I wasn’t able to stream music because I couldn’t figure out a way to simply select music to play, for instance — but it’s free, so worth taking a look at.


Big Changes at Pogoplug, Including New Video Version



We’ve been keen followers of developments at CloudEngines, the outfit behind the Pogoplug network-attached storage device, ever since we reviewed the first one back in late 2009. This month, a little over two years after the Pogoplug debuted, brings a whole raft of new offerings from the company — including one that may bring a big surge to NAS popularity in general.

Seagate Ships GoFlex Slim, ‘World’s Slimmest’ External HDD



Don’t get me wrong — I love chunky; chunky is great to hold, easy to get along with. Thin, though — well, thin is just plain fast. It’s stealthy, slinky, looks great sitting on a desk. Of course, we’re talking about the latest addition to Seagate’s line of GoFlex modular drives, the GoFlex Slim external laptop drive.

Seagate says it’s the “world’s thinnest”; we haven’t whipped out a tape measure yet, but our very brief hands-on time with the 9mm-thick drive at CES definitely left us with the impression it was stealthy. We’re thinking the drive is probably aimed broadly at professional women, judging by its product shots.

The fast-spinning, 7200RPM drive comes in one flavor and price right now: $100 for 320GB.


MapMyFitness Apps Now Work with Wahoo Fisica Dongle


mapmyfitness 3

With an estimated 2.5 million users, MapMyFitness is almost certainly one of the top fitness-tracking services on the web and the iPhone;  which means last week’s announcement that their apps now fully integrate with the Wahoo Fisica dongle should make a lot of people happy.

The MMF website and apps, most of which are free, are already chock-full of features like a deep library of user-generated maps, mapping functions (like route elevation profile generation) and their new nutrition-tracking feature; adding the ability to record sensor data should catapult the system to the top of the heap. The integration with the ANT+ Fisica sensor dongle doesn’t quite extend across MapMyFitness’s whole suite of apps, but hits the major ones, like MapMyRun, MapMyRide and MapMyFitness (all three of which are really almost identical).


Digifit Churns Out New Bike Hardware, App And Connectivity Improvements


digifit case

The folks at Digifit seem to have been working feverishly on evolving their iPhone-linked fitness-monitoring system since the last time we covered them, a few months ago.


In fact, the system seems to be evolving very closely along the lines of Wahoo’s Fisica system — so closely that their new $50 Digifit Connect 2 dongle (that’s it pictured below) looks the spitting image of Wahoo’s version. No surprise then that the $15 Digifit app is now also compatible with the Wahoo dongle. In addition, there’s a new $120, water-resistant, iPhone 3/4-compatible Digifit Connect Case for mounting on bicycle handlebars.