• About
  • First time here?
  • Sitemap
  • Archives
  • Categories
  • Archive for the ‘gadgets’ Category

    Makin’ Mixtapes!


    2011 - 08.16

    So since I got this cassette deck, I picked up a box of high-bias blank cassettes and I’ve been taping some hot jams direct from the turntable. Interesting thing about cassettes; since your recording time is limited, there is maybe a bit more pressure to make sure that every song which goes onto tape is a badass track, worthy of ferromagnetic imprinting.

    I had forgotten how making cassettes track-by-track is fairly labor intensive–you can’t really walk away from the deck for more than a couple minutes at most. There is something rewarding about finishing a tape though–one where you think to yourself, damn, every song on there is tops, and I’m pretty sure I nailed the order too. This tape’s got FLOW, baby!

    I just completed one that’s a combination of two double LP Orgone releases. If I don’t say so myself, the track listing is AWESOME.

    Side A: Cali Fever
    1. Cali Fever
    2. Time Tonight
    3. Lookout
    4. The Cleaner

    Side B: Killion Vaults
    1. Cruel Intentions
    2. Wanting Wondering
    3. Shopping Spree
    4. K. Irin
    5. Counting On You
    6. Done Deal
    7. Dark Falls

    Total playtime: only 40 minutes.  Make it count!

    Since these cassettes didn’t come with stick-on labels, I used metal-ink pens to label them, then put transparent tape over the writing so it can’t get scratched off. I’m pretty sure that should keep the labeling in mint condition for the life of the tape.

    And–AND–I’ve got three little mini-mixes that I whipped up for these tapes. After the goods have all been delivered, they’ll be posted on here. Stay tuned for that in the latter half of August.

    600 shots and counting!


    2011 - 08.11

    Tuesday was the first day since I’ve gotten my new T3i that I didn’t take a picture on it.  This is probably because I fell asleep early by accident!

    Something that occurred to me is that using this new timelapse remote is going to completely blow up the count of shutter actuations on the camera.  The outgoing champ, my Canon XTi, has about 6,400 pictures on the counter.  So far with the T3i I’m already up over 600… in less than a week!  Whoa.

    In a way it’s kinda scary how quick these will add up, but really it’s a good thing–I’m gonna USE this puppy.  And I should.  It’s got the great ISO range I’ve been wishing for, and pretty much all the movie-making goodness a camera-nerd could wish for.  Ahhhhh

    I have been doing some trial runs of timelapse, some of which I’ll begin posting on here soon.  I thought some of you might like to see my setup for doing these, so below is a picture.  We’ve got the Canon T3i with Meike Powergrip (intended for 550D/T2i, but it still works 100%), a simple Studiohut intervalometer, and the Tamron 10-24mm superwide zoom for some large sky coverage:

    It took me a while to figure out how to set up the tripod for a full view of the sky with no trees or house in the frame.  At first I tried putting the quick release on backward, which let me tilt in a more favorable direction (as shown above), but that still wasn’t quite what I needed.  The real trick is to put the quick release on sideways (90 degrees off, instead of 180), so that instead of left/right tilt, the mount itself moves up and down.  THAT’s how it’s done!  I’ll post a picture of that method sometime later…

    Bwahnt, bwahnt, bwaaaaaa (that’s a sad trombone sound, for a screwed up camera)


    2011 - 08.02

    So it turns out that the camera I got off eBay had a little issue.  Kind of crazy, but an issue that I only noticed when I tried doing time lapse astrophotography.  In the resultant movie, there were dots hanging in the sky which didn’t move as the rest of the stars did.  I tried cleaning the sensor both automatically and (carefully!) manually.  One or two spots went away, most did not.  I found this hidden function buried in the canon menu called “dust delete data” which I thought might help.  Nope.  Finally I got clever and took a 20 second exposure with the lens cap on.  I thought Ah-ha!  I can use this as a reference of the noise, and use a difference layer in photoshop to remove it.  Hmm, that almost worked, but some of the dots aren’t quite lined up for some reason… Okay, how about if I repeat this process five times with an action file.  Okay, now the spots are gone but the ISO noise is out of control.  Alright… know what, forget this.  Time for a BRAND NEW camera.

    Pffft.

    I’m a big believer in buying pre-owned stuff.  I like to get a good deal, I like to see things get used to the maximum and fully worn out before they get discarded, I like the idea that the things around me have some other secret story of their own before they arrived here that I’ll never really know.  But man, a DSLR camera body is a large, long term investment.  This thing has got to be ready for all the kinds of action I want to use it for.  And in this case, astrophotography would be tedious to fix, over and over and over in the years I’ll be using it.

    So yeah.  eBay camera got sent back to New Jersey and there’s a brand new T3i in the mail set to arrive on Thursday from B&H in NYC.

    A few wacky things worth mentioning:

    • the spots were red, blue, and white, meaning potentially sensor flaws and not just dust which should be dark spots
    • these spots only showed up in multi-second long exposures.  At any normal shutter speeds, they didn’t appear at all.  I took a series of test shots and knew exactly where to look.  They were definitely not there.  They didn’t show up in video either (makes sense, short shutter speeds).  Only long exposures.  Hmph.
    • it’s weird–there’s no way I would have caught this unless I was doing astrophotography.  And if I took single shots only, I probably still would not have noticed it.  But since I did time lapse astrophotography, where the stars moved, only then did I catch this.  Since this is an activity I want to get into, I can’t be havin’ those spots.  My night sky time lapse ought to be crystal clear, for the cash that these camera cost.
    • before I bought the T2i I sort of scoffed at the articulating screen, thinking it was not really necessary and just added to the price.  Having played with the T2i and made a few videos, I figured out how the articulating screen does have value.  It’d be useful for filming yourself.  And for low shots where the camera is almost on the ground.  And, ironically, for astrophotography, where the camera is pointed straight up at the sky.  The only way to see the T2i screen was to awkwardly get underneath the tripod.  So, having almost a week with the T2i, I was sold on the utility of an articulating screen.  T3i to the rescue.
    And the waiting game is well underway, AGAIN!

    A fresh photographic epoch: new equipment and the goals of these acquisitions.


    2011 - 07.27

    I have been waiting for today.

    Today a new camera came in the mail!: a very lightly used Canon t2i DSLR I snagged on eBay. Dude.

    I’ve been dreaming of a video DSLR with extended ISO range for years now. Today it’s HERE. That is so &^%!@*# exciting.

    I’m going to be able to make movies now. Sexy, beautiful HD movies that have blurry backgrounds and sharp detail. This is a major technological advance for my artistic tools. The nerd in me is so ready to rock every dial and button on this puppy! We’ll see if the artist in me is capable of crafting something of beauty with it… afterall, that’s what matters. I see a Vimeo membership in my near future.

    This camera also comes with a battery grip that will accept either AA’s or two of the normal canon camera batteries. Hopefully this should spell ample battery life for doing all-night timelapse photography. That’s like a whole extra layer of cake on top of the icing of the previous cake layer which is the t2i video capability.

    So, what do I aim to do with all this hardware?

    Well step one; I’m taking a trip back home to Wisconsin in Mid August. The objectives:
    1. get some sweet video of my favorite places to visit while I’m there: Devil’s Lake, Parfree’s Glen, Durwood’s Glen, the Baraboo hills, etc.
    2. capture video on the boat outings I’ll be doing with my buddies Bill and Rob. Maybe including a music/dance video of the funk mixset due for release on Bill’s boat, in conjunction with the new wide angle Tamron lens
    3. take all night time lapse photography of the sky in Caledonia where I hope to capture the Milky Way moving over the sky, also in conjunction with the new lens.

    Those are the initial ones I can think of. I’m sure lots of little ancillary bits will occur along the way.

    Long term, I want to make some ‘shorts’–little mini-movies that are digestable 10-15 minute affairs, maybe with the goal of shooting enough footage that I could combine it into something feature length. That’s a tall order, and will probably take me a very long time to actualize.

    Anyway, the tools are here, and I am thoroughly excited to dig in and start playing!

    In the pic below I thought it’d be cool to show the evolution of my camera setup.  The Elan IIe at far left was my first SLR and my last film camera, I bought it at the end of high school.  It’s got a 28-105mm walkaround with some great filters, and a Canon 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 came soon after.  A95 was my first digital, shown here with a fisheye attachment that rocks my socks.  The Rebel XTi was my first DSLR and I got it with the wonderful 17-85mm, my first setup with Image Stabilization.  Next came the Tamron 10-24mm, a bondafide superwide, with 16-38mm equivalence in full frame size.  And finally, today, the Rebel T2i, my first video DSLR, shown here with the 50mm f/1.8, possibly my favorite lens out of them all ;)

    So excited to work with this new capability!

    Old schoolin! – The NAD 6130 Cassette Deck


    2011 - 07.17

    So a few months back I bought a turntable and now I’ve technologically regressed even deeper–Cassette tapes!

    Okay, okay, there’s an explanation for this. I’ve been really digging on the finds I’ve been picking up in the local $0.97 record bins (seriously, 97 cents!) and accordingly looking for a way to share them with some fellow funk and soul addict friends of mine. My buddy Bill has recently acquired a boat. I’ll be heading back home to Wisconsin for a week in mid-August and we’re gonna go out for a day on the lake. I asked him, what kind of musical playback formats does your nautical stereo accept? The answer – cassette tapes, dogg.

    Jeez, cassette, wow. I’m not sure I remember the last time I used a cassette tape, or recorded one. I think it’s been since like junior high. Well over a decade, whatever it was. So I needed to dig up a cassette recording device to bring along some hot jams I excavated from dusty 1970s vinyl obscurity. Enter craigslist! Some dude was unloading this NAD 6130 tape recorder which belonged to his father-in-law who recently passed on. Like a lot of good transactions on CL, the vibe I got from him was pretty much, ‘whatever man, I don’t care what this is, just get it out of here’. That’s the attitude I’m looking for! Twenty bucks, yeah that sounds cool.


    Kind of a funny thing about reading up on the Dolby NRs; I learned that there are a lot of variations in cassette tape technology! There’s Dolby A and B types of noise reduction, and then there’s Dolby C, which actually sounds WORSE if you play it back on a deck that doesn’t support Dolby C. There’s different types of cassettes too, metal ones, ferric oxide ones, Type II, etc. Whoa. This is all way more complicated than I expected. Fortunately, thanks to it’s utter obsolecence, I was able to pick up a Cadillac of a cassette recorder that should handle all of the above for dirt cheap!  Yay antiquated technology!  Check out the green reel to reel style cassette loaded in :D

    Analogue Fetishism, Stage One: GO TEAM VINYL


    2011 - 05.29

    So a couple weeks ago, I acquired something I’ve wanted for years, and have been waiting a long time to purchase: a turntable! It’s a Pro-Ject Debut III USB. This puppy is decidedly unassuming in appearance, but instead has got all the pizzaz where it counts: fidelity.

    There’s something great about playing records. Maybe it’s the nostalgia associated with the format that you used to play on your parents stereo as a little kid. Or the enjoyment of physically moving your music around, touching it, and having to place the tone arm on the vinyl, instead of clicking a mouse, or pressing a button. Vinyl is the most tactile medium of music playback, moreso even than it’s analog brethren the cassette tape. For these reasons I think it has an emotional appeal to it that makes other mediums seem… sterile by comparison.

    There’s something intellectually appealing about it as well; the waveforms reproduced by the speakers essentially come from a physical drawing on the record. There’s no sampling rate, there’s no digital to analog converter trying to smooth out a bar-graph of 1’s and 0’s to reproduce the original signal. Sure, you could make a successful arguement that with the sampling rates of common digital formats, the difference is imperceptible between a signal that is pure analog versus a signal that has been converted from A to D to A again. But still. It’s neat to know that the song you’re hearing is (at least for analog-recorded source material) EXACTLY the original waves.

    Another intellectual appeal to the format is that it requires your interaction. You can’t set up an eight-hour long playlist and then go do something else while the music plays. Often when an LP reaches the end of a side, I remember my friend Craig Bauman yelling from the kitchen to the partiers in the living room “GO TEAM VINYL!” to express his displeasure that no one had jumped up to flip the record yet.

    Vinyl also makes it tedious to skip tracks, or to jump around on an album. You put on a record, and you listen to it straight through. In this way it forces you to check out songs that might not have grabbed you on the first or even tenth listen. I’ve had an interesting experience with this idea on Orgone’s double LP “Killion Vaults” which I listened to for months in mp3 format, before this turntable arrived and I was able to play the vinyl copy. Now that I am forced to listen to the tracks in the intended order without skipping any, there’s totally several cuts that I had skipped over before that are starting to grow on me now!

    Last, vinyl is hip because it has its own sound. The tone-arm, the cartridge, the different masterings of vinyl recordings versus their compact disc brethren… all these things impart a unique flavor that isn’t present in the digital-only version.

    Reviews of records are forthcoming…..

    Wakemate: know your z’s like your ABC’s.


    2011 - 03.19

    Alright here comes one I’ve been holding out on for a few weeks now: The Wakemate!

    What the heck is it? : It’s a wristband you wear to bed. Inside there is an accelerometer, which measures when and how much your wrist is moving during the night. This is a method of sleep analysis called Actigraphy. There are many smartphone apps that use the built-in accelerometers in your phone to measure the same thing when placed on the mattress next to you. The downside of this is that you’ll need to put the phone quite close to your body to get accurate results, and even then it’s not going to be as sensitive to small movements that a wristband like this will pick up.

    I’ve been using it for about two weeks now and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. It connects to the phone (either Android, iOS, or Blackberry) via bluetooth, communicating once when you go to sleep and then again in the moring when it’s time to wake up. You set an alarm for the latest time you want to wake up, then the wakemate will watch your sleep patterns and wake you, up to 20 minutes before your designated alarm time. The idea is that if you are awakened during a period of light sleep, you won’t feel as groggy as you would if you were in deep sleep and jolted awake.

    While the alarm aspect is certainly a cool idea, and I’m sure some people will be all about it, myself, I’m much more interested in simply looking at the data of how well I slept last night and how much deep sleep I got. Deep sleep, where your brain switches over to delta waves, is the restful kind of sleep that will make you feel more well rested in the morning. 

    Corresponding to how much deep sleep you get, the wakemate website gives you a “sleep score” which you can view on their website, along with all the other data on how well you’ve been sleeping. Just last night I got my highest sleep score yet, an 89. Interestingly, last night I slept 5:02, where the previous night, where I slept for 7:14 and got a score of 69. The difference? Last night I got much more deep sleep, and I never woke up during the night, which is something else that can lower your sleep score.

    They don’t give much explanation on exactly how the sleep score is derived, but as you get more data on yourself and the variables start to rearrange themselves, you can make an educated guess as to how they tally it. One other really helpful thing is that they allow you to tag your nights with different labels. Some of mine are “vino,” “late supper,” or “swam”. Tracking these variables over time might allow me to see what effect they have on my alertness the next day.

    Their website also shows you a plot of the raw movement data taken from the wristband for each night. To me, this is the coolest thing to look at, because that’s really the data behind all their calculations.

    Why would you want all this data? Probably the same reason a lot of people enjoy having bike computers. It’s just cool to know stats about yourself and try to measure ways that you could be improving things, or figure out what you’re doing wrong.

    I’m guessing some of you already knew the basic facts, so onto some detailed impressions: the wristband itself is a little snug. It’s make of elastic on one side and what feels like flannel for about 3/4ths of the rest. I figured out that you need to insert the electronics so that the flat side faces your arm, and the curved side faces out. That frees up a small but important amount of stretching so that the wristband isn’t quite so tight. It also helps to insert it on the side that is under the “wake” instead of the “mate” and wear the band so that the elastic area is closer to your body. Hard to describe, so see the picture:

    Knowing these facts, the wristband is very wearable. I don’t wake up dying to take it off, nor does it distract me at all going to sleep or in the night. I suspect for some people with large wrists though, you might be finding or making your own wristband to stick the electronics inside of.

    The app (I have a Motorola Droid X, so these comments pertain to the Android version) is, how should I put it… finicky. Given, this is the first version, and it says on their website that improvements are soon to come. But I have had it crash on me at least 4 times now, and sadly if the app crashes, you can kiss that nights data goodbye. There is no way to restart the app and tell it, “hey I just woke up and there is data you need to get!” Nor is there a way to take your wristband to the computer and plug it in to upload. If the app crashes (and it does!) you’ll lose that night. That’s definitely a bummer. But I expect this will be remedied with future updates.

    On the whole, the app could use a lot of improvement, with a persistent volume setting for the alarm, a built-in viewer for your stats, a bigger ‘stop the alarm button’ (it’s tiny!), more features, and less crashing! I’d say the current implementation is spartan, but functional >70% of the time. Suffice it to say, really looking forward to the updates!!

    But all criticisms aside, this puppy is awesome. It was worth the $60. I don’t know how long the battery lifespan is supposed to be, but I intend to use the wakemate every night until I’ve run it straight into the ground. Seeing a graph the next morning of how well you slept last night is just fascinating. I can tell you that, but until you see it yourself, based on your own actual sleep last night, you won’t quite appreciate how cool it truly is.  (It is very cool.)

    I’ll update this review after I’ve had a month or two more with it, and I also might blog about using the wakemate and dreaming, which is something I’ve been looking forward to since I signed up for the preorder, over a year ago!

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    nerd rage: tablets are stupid!


    2011 - 02.24

    I’ve been reading a few interesting articles lately using this awesome RSS reader called Pulse, for the android.  Two of them struck me as interesting: tech bloggers who are naysaying about the latest, greatest gadget fad: tablets.  Essentially, a lot of the talk revolves around the idea ‘ what can a tablet actually do better than anything else?’

    Over at Ars Technica, there is a rant I found pretty amusing called Why I Don’t Care About Tablets Anymore.  Jon Stokes opines:

    “the tablet isn’t really the best gadget that I have for any of the [things I commonly do on it]—at least in terms of the overall experience (cost and convenience aside). For watching video, my TV wins. I prefer to read books and papers on either the Kindle or as dead-tree color printouts and books. Surfing the Web is easier on a computer, especially if you leave a lot of tabs open. I’ve yet to have a tablet gaming experience that really surpasses a good console or PC game. And so on.”

    He makes a cuttingly perceptive observation toward the end as well: “Some of the really savvy new media efforts like Flipboard are exciting, but after the initial “wow” factor wears off, these apps mainly serve to remind me that there’s already too much good stuff to read out there, and that my life is slipping away from me in an infinite stream of interesting bits about smart animals, dumb criminals, outrageous celebs, shiny objects, funny memes, scientific discoveries, economic developments, etc.. I invariably end up closing the app in a fit of guilt, and picking up one of the truly fantastic dead tree or Kindle books that I’m working my way through at the moment, so that I can actually exercise my brain (as opposed to simply wearing it out).”

    Hmph!  Indeed.   That last sentence is going to stick with me for a long time.

    Article two is “I Hate My iPad” over at Slate, with a few quotable gems on the iPad:

    “There’s no question that it makes browsing the Web while sitting on the couch easier. Though I have a relatively svelte laptop, it’s kind of a pain to tote around the apartment. But am I the kind of person who pays $600 to save the effort of detaching some USB cables from time to time? I don’t want to be that kind of person.”

    “I think it’s amazing that Apple has convinced so many people to pay $600 for what seem like such marginal improvements in their lifestyles—$600 to be able to check my e-mail in bed in a slightly more comfortable fashion than I can on my laptop seems sort of crazy when I stop and think about it.” His friend replies, “That’s your problem–stopping to think about it.”

    Incidentally, it also spawned this discussion, with this humorously sarcastic quote:

    “I like to sit on my couch and watch Netflix on it even though there’s a 46″ LCD right in front of me. I like to use the word processing software even though it takes ten times longer than using a real keyboard because my desktop computer is all the way in the next room. I like to use the shiny back as mirror to check myself out. I like to look at the pretty colors on the screen. It also makes a really futuristic looking paperweight. It’s so cute and shiny.”

    Nerrrd RAAAAAAAGEE!!!

    Camera Lust: the Fujifilm X100


    2011 - 02.08

    Just look at it.

    the Fujifilm X100 so sexy!

    Let’s go down the list: 12.3 megapixels on an APS-C size sensor, ISO 100-6400 (expandable to 12800), 23mm f/2.0 prime lens (that’s about 35mm in good ol’ 35mm parlance), 9 aperture blades, physical dials to control shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation, a 460k pixel 2.8″ LCD, 720p HD video capture, a built-in neutral density filter to keep your aperture nice and wide when it’s bright out, and wierdest of all a “hybrid” viewfinder that switches between optical and digital or both. CRAZY!

    Allow me to repeat: Caaahhh-Raaaazzzz-aaaaayyyy.

    This thing is downright jam packed with awesome features and brilliant ideas! The super wide aperture prime lens and physical control dials will appeal strongly to the purist crowd. The inclusion of a built-in neutral density filter was a thoughtful touch: in order to take advantage of that wonderful 2.0 aperture and the pleasing background blur it provides, you’ll often want to dim the amount of light coming in to the lens without having to change the aperture setting; this is the function of a N.D. filter (in case you wondered). I suspect that in-practice it would get used often.

    The hybrid viewfinder is sort of a one-of-a-kind feature here. If I’m interpreting the Fuji PR speak correctly, it sounds like you can preview your exposure by using the digital half of the viewfinder, which is quite neat. This funky viewfinder does add to the allure of the camera, although I suspect it adds to the cost significantly. Sort of to the point where I wished they would have just made it a standard optical viewfinder

    It’s clear where the design inspiration came from on this camera, and that vintage rangefinder appearance will make it appealing to anyone with a vintage fetish, but … (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you) the price of admission is going to be prohibitive, making this camera a model for the die-hard fanatic ONLY. $1200 retail. Damn.

    Canon recently announced their two newest entries in the Digital Rebel series, the T3 and the T3i, both of which have killer, killer specs, and could be purchased, with a very nice lens, for under a grand. That’s really what this camera is up against when it comes to the semi-pro or pro photographer. But then, I think maybe this camera isn’t intended for them. I think it’s more meant to compete with the Leicas and such.

    Hmmm. Wow. What a piece of gear. It’s sexy-as-all-hell and it’s got every feature you could want (literally, and MORE) from a current-gen camera. That price is correspondingly painful, but hey, consider it like the Porsche of cameras. No-compromise style and no-compromise performance aren’t cheap when you want them both in one package. Add some flashy, unique features on top of that, and geez, it’s hot enough to melt that credit card!

    Maybe in a year or two I will hit up the used market and see what one of these goes for. Something tells me they are going to be holding their resale value nicely though. Sigh. I guess a boy can always dream. What a camera!

    Expanding power, in your pocket! (wait)


    2011 - 02.03

    There are two new devices coming out in the (relatively) near future that have caught my eye. Both of these represent a shift toward delivering an experience, on-the-go, that rivals the ease and fullness of what you have at home. These products, to me, signal an exciting new era in which the functionality of your portable devices is held to the same standard as you expect in the comfort of home.

    Device #1: The Next Generation Portable from Sony

    This thing is a monster. As in “aaaaah monstaaar!!” Let’s go down the list: Dual analog sticks (real, honest to goodness sticks), quad core processor (ARM, so low power draw), front and read cameras, OLED touchscreen, REAR touchscreen (seriously), GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G (if you like), compass, motion sensors (not a big fan of games that use these personally)… DUDE. The games you’ll play on it will be Metal Gear Solid, Uncharted, Call of Duty, Wipeout… the big guns. And not some gimped version where you touch the screen for everything, or tilt to steer, or play your shooters “on rails”; you have 2 sticks now, just like your PS3 controller at home. Meaning you’ll control the camera and you’ll have the same familiar button scheme as you do on your couch. Real gaming, for people who know games and have been scoffing this whole time at the idea of portable “gaming” on the iOS devices. It was half-baked. It just wasn’t “there” yet. Well here it is. It’s a PS3 you can stick in your backpack. Wow.

    Me personally, I don’t know if I’ll be in a huge rush to get one when it comes out. Rarely, if ever, do I game on the go. Once and a while I dabble in some Angry Birds or Doodle Jump, you know, the crème de la crème of the bite-size gaming world. This is mostly due to the fact that I commute to work by myself, by car. But for anyone who rides a train, a bus, a subway, or maybe even carpoolers, here is the way to spend your commute. Sweet Jeebus. If I were any of those people, I would be all-the-hell over this Sony NGP thingie.  Sticks man, two sticks.  See:

    Who knows, maybe they’ll even find some way to rope in the only-at-home gamers like me, maybe via minigames on the NGP that are tied to your progress in a so-called “AAA” title on the PS3. For example, maybe I’m playing Mass Effect 2 on the PS3, and instead of doing all my planetary mining activities on the big screen, maybe I pick up the NGP and go out to the backyard, for some relaxing mining while I sip a cool beverage and enjoy the sun. Or maybe, taking that a step further, a friend who’s over at my house hanging out picks up the NGP and starts doing some mining on the NGP WHILE I’m playing Mass Effect on the PS3. Maybe what’s happeneing on the NGP affects the game action on the PS3 in real time, and vice versa. And wildest of all, just maybe, for games that are less demanding, I could play matches against my friends who have NGPs across town who I riding the bus, while I sit at home on the PS3. Live cross-platform gaming is theoretically possible with the horsepower that the NGP is packing. I hope Sony pushes this direction, because it’d be, well, awesome.

    Device #2: The Motorola Atrix 4G

    Yo, dawg, I heard that you like keyboards and LCDs, so I put a LAPTOP inside your SMARTPHONE. Yeah, that pretty much says it. The Atrix is a dual core smartphone, with a dock that has a laptop-sized keyboard and a laptop-sized LCD. You plug it in, and your smartphone is now a laptop. This is pure genius for anyone who hates trying to type on a smartphone (read:everyone). Writers on the go, business professionals, students, whatever. Even just using the big screen to watch hulu, or surf your favorite sites.

    The Atrix is like seeing a glimpse of the future. Things are going to get to the point where the computing power inside our pockets overtakes notebooks, and having both will just be redundant. Convergence. All we really need then is a portable keyboard and larger screen. Which is what we’ve got here. I think the form factor will continue to evolve, with foldable displays when that becomes practical, pico-projectors for presentations or gaming on the go, and whatever input paradigm can eventually overtake the keyboard. Maybe speech recognition? I’m pretty sure Google is hard at work making computers understand our voices better…

    Honorable mention: the Playstation Phone

    It’s formally called the “Xperia Play” (dumb name!) but let’s just call it what it really is; the first-gen Playstation phone. When we put it next to the monstrosity that is the Sony NGP, it looks like a bit of a weakling in comparison, but it’s cool that this puppy is here. Ever since the original first-gen iPhone came out in 2007, I’ve been wishing that someone would make a case for it that had a d-pad and buttons for game playing. There has been one company which teased such prototypes for forever, but they are finally just making it to market now (ugh) and I bet the support for the accessory is probably low from game-makers, which cripples it at birth. So a phone with a native d-pad and buttons! It’s finally here. An idea 4 years too late, but better late than never I suppose. You won’t be playing the latest Gears of War on this hardware like you WILL on the NGP, but you could get your SNES Mario emulator rocking with this sucker like Engadget in the pic above, and I bet it’ll be a pretty sweet little game machine, albeit outclassed by it’s own Sony brethren. However, you could legitimately argue this is the best gaming experience that a PHONE has to offer, since the NGP is technically not a telephone (helloooo Skype!).