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October 2010 Archives

October 1, 2010

Adobe Premiere Elements 9 for Video Editing Enthusiasts

Adobe has released version 9 of its top-selling consumer applications, Premiere Elements for video editing and Photoshop Elements for photo editing.

The big news for Elements 9 is the full availability of both products on the Macintosh platform, in addition to Windows, including the integrated Elements Organizer.

These are not entry-level consumer applications -- Adobe has designed the Elements tools for motivated enthusiasts who want to do more than a quick occasional edit -- people who are motivated and organized about shooting and managing their footage, and willing to put in the effort to tag and analyze it.

The Elements applications do feature an accessible interface for enthusiast consumers, with extensive tips and tutorials, and simplified editing modes like the video storyboard and one-click photo quick fixes. But underneath they provide access to significant chunks of the underlying power and flexibility of Adobe's professional Premiere Pro CS5 and Photoshop CS5 applications, including video tracks with keyframed effects, and images with layers and effects.

The idea is to provide a growth path as you get more experienced -- so you can start simply, but then not hit a dead end in the application as your editing gets more sophisticated.

For example, new features in Premiere Elements 9 include Import from compact HD camcorders, including Flip camcorders and DSLR still cameras, optimized SD and HD editing including AVCHD, new effects for cartoon animation and audio cleaning, and export online to Facebook, to Online Albums, and as Web DVD.

And Premiere Elements is about more than accessible editing -- It's built around three major themes: organization of all your media in the included Elements Organizer tool, background automated analysis of your videos and photos to help drive smart editing assists, and online sharing, backup, and even syncing between multiple computers.

The application pricing is unchanged: Premiere Elements 9 and Photoshop Elements 9 are each $99 list ($79 with rebate) individually, or bundled together for $149 ($119 with rebate).

Adobe also offers the Plus upgrade bundle with more online storage and access, including ongoing delivery of new tutorials, themes and artwork. The basic applications include 2 GB of online storage for backup, sharing, syncing, and the Plus upgrade increases to 20 GB online storage (for up to 15,000 photos or 4 hours of DVD-quality video). The individual applications with Plus are $139 ($119 with rebate), or bundled for $179 ($149).

See my full article for details on the new Premiere Elements: Walkthrough: Adobe Premiere Elements 9

See summaries of video applications and versions in my Video Editing Software Gallery.

    Find Adobe Premiere Elements 9
    and bundle with Photoshop Elements 9 on Amazon.com

Premiere Elements 9 - Animated Cartoon look

October 2, 2010

Native Union Moshi Moshi Retro Mobile Phone Handset

The classics never go out of style, so Native Union has introduced the Moshi Moshi Retro Mobile Phone Handset -- the 50's telephone style lovingly brought back as a handset for mobile phones.

If you tend to chat on your phone at your desk, but don't want a Bluetooth headset stuck in your ear, then you can have the classic feel of a handset and still be able to check your phone as you talk.

The handset is full size, so fits comfortably in your hand, and is finished with a comfortable soft-touch texture. The handset includes noise reduction technology, and has an answer / hang up button in the middle.

The curled cord ends in a 3.5 mm jack, which you can plug in to the iPhone and Blackberry, or you can use adapters to plug in to other phones (different sets of Adaptor Kits are $15). Or use the USB Adapter ($20) to connect to your computer to make Skype calls -- you'll look great on video calls.

The Native Union Moshi Moshi Retro Handset is available in black or red for $29, or $59 with a weighted base. A new line of Pop Phones is also being introduced in pink, yellow, dark purple, dark blue, and green. Native Union also offers a contemporary Curve Handset in wired and wireless Bluetooth models.

See my Audio Accessories Gallery for details and related products.

Find the Native Union Retro Handset on Amazon.com

October 3, 2010

Imation Defender Biometric Flash Drive Super Secure -

There's a huge range of choices in USB flash drives, from tiny to big, playful to rugged. It all depends on what you're doing with them, like swapping files with friends, or saving photos while on a trip.

But if you're using your USB drive to backup and archive important personal files, much less business files, then your priorities change -- you want a drive both to be physically rugged and to secure your data from anyone who might get their hands on it.

The Imation Defender storage line of flash drives, hard drives, and optical media are designed for security, with FIPS 140-2 validation -- The Federal Information Processing Standardization (FIPS) is a U.S. government computer security standard used to accredit cryptographic components.

The Imation Defender F200 Biometric Flash Drive then features strong physical security plus data protection through AES 256-bit encryption, password authentication, and fingerprint biometrics.

The physical design is built around a metal enclosure with an enclosing cap with rubber sealing ring, so the result is tamper-evident, tamper-resistant, waterproof, and dustproof.

The data security is provided through AES 256-bit encryption implemented in hardware, activated when the drive is in use.

The Defender F200 then includes two forms of access control, with password authentication plus fingerprint authentication using a built-in biometric swipe sensor with hardware-based matching.

Especially for business use, you can manage and share the drive through administrative software, including setting up ten users and ten fingerprints, and customizing password policies. There's also enterprise software for centralized management of Defender drives.

The Imation Defender F200 Biometric Flash Drive is available with capacities from 1 to 32 GB, at prices ranging from around $99 to $349.

See my Portable Storage Gallery for details and comparisons on memory cards, USB drives, and hard disk storage.

Find the Imation Defender Biometric Flash Drive on Amazon.com

October 6, 2010

New Flip Video Pocket Camcorders: Relentless Simplicity

The Flip Video camcorders (now part of Cisco) have been relentless in their focus on simplicity. Pull it out of your pocket, turn it on, and in under 4 seconds its ready to shoot -- just press the big red button in the middle of the back (see earlier post).

Other competing products have lots of useful additional features and options -- photo mode, macro close-up, multiple resolutions, removable storage. But with the Flips there's no extra controls that you can set up wrong, no menu options you can mess up. So just start shooting, with no hassles and no worries.

The new Flip Video line continues the emphasis on ease of use. They've stepped up the frame rate from 30 to 60 fps for fast motion, and added image stabilization, which is helpful with small hand-held devices. And keeping with the Flip philosophy, these are not options, they're just built in.

The Flip line has two basic models, in addition to the SlideHD with slide-out widescreen display (see earlier post). The line is fully HD (1280 x 720) -- The MinoHD models are particularly compact (6/10 inch thin, 4 ounces), and the slightly larger UltraHD models (4 1/2 ounces) offer removable batteries.

The MinoHD models add the 60 fps and stabilization, and are priced at $179 for 1 hour of recording and $229 for two hours.

The UltraHD 1 hour is now only $149, and the 2 hour model is $199, with 60 fps and stabilization.

In lieu of cramming in features to a small device, Flip is expanding the possibilities of third-party accessories with a new Designed for Flip program, and a new FlipPort accessory interface available on the new Ultra 2 hour (as an expansion of the HDMI port).

These start with the Bower Wide Angle Lens and Ikelite Underwater Housing, both for all Flip models. New FlipPort compatible products coming soon include the Blue Microphones Mikey for Flip external mic, a Scosche wireless microphone, iGo Overtime Battery extender and Charge Anywhere power adapter, and a Seagate storage solution.

Flip also has extended its Design Your Own program, so you can customize your Flip for free when ordering from the Flip Video website. You can choose from the artwork in the Design Gallery, use the Pattern Generator for your own creation, or upload your own image.

Check the Flip site to compare the MinoHD and UltraHD models

See my Digital Camcorders Gallery for more on the Flip line and other digital camcorders.

    Find the Flip MinoHD and UltraHD on Amazon.com

October 7, 2010

Panoramic Flip Video - Bower Wide Angle Lens

The first goodie in the new Designed for Flip accessory program (see previous post) is the Bower Wide Angle Magnetic Lens. This expands the field of view of your Flip by .45X, from wide-angle HD to a panoramic view of the scene.

It's a "magnetic" lens because that's how it attaches. The product includes a few magnetic mounting rings -- Peel the back off to attach one around the Flip lens.

You then can attach the lens with its magnetic base on the ring, and have it hold quite securely. There's also a leash with rubber ring you can use to tether the lens, and a soft carrying pouch.

The lens itself is around 3/4 inch deep (about as thick as the body of the UltraHD 2 hour model). It's priced at $49, or around $39 street.

See my Digital Camcorders Gallery for more on the Flip line and other digital camcorders.

    Find the Bower Wide Angle Lens on Amazon.com

October 12, 2010

Logitech Revue with Google TV

Google is expanding to the set-up with the announcement of Google TV last week. As you might expect, Google has a search-centric view of TV, and this new expansion builds nicely on its Android strategy for mobile devices. But the most interesting difference with Google TV is the way that it is positioned to take over your TV, not just supplement it like Apple TV and Roku are designed to do.

And the implementation of Google TV in the Logitech Revue product goes even further, also integrating Logitech's device control technology from its Harmony Remotes line of universal remote controls.

So the Logitech Revue product starts with the "Companion box," the core set-top box that connects to your TV. But there's another pass-through HDMI port, to also connect your cable or satellite set-top box -- so that the Google TV interface can switch between broadcast video and the Web, and also do overlays and picture in picture. So there's no requirement to manually switch your TV to a different source. And the Logitech Harmony remote technology uses an IR blaster to control all your devices together.

As a result, Google TV then can serve as a consolidated hub for access to today's wide range of entertainment sources:

  • Cable TV and associated video on demand and digital video recorder,
  • Video and audio on demand over the Internet from services including Netflix and Amazon, Pandora and Napster
  • Full Web access with the Google Chrome browser, including Web video sites like YouTube, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and
  • Web-based interactivity with Adobe Flash Player 10.1

In addition, Google TV brings the expandability of mobile devices to the set-top with Google TV Android apps, with apps from the Android Market available early next year. For example, one of the apps on Logitech Revue is a Media Player to access content on your home network and PCs.

That's a lot of content options, which explains the somewhat crowded home page for Google TV -- including Web-like Bookmarks, media player Most Viewed, and TV-like Spotlight for surfing suggested content, as well as direct links to categories including Applications, What's On, Amazon, and YouTube.

But instead of clicking through pages, Google TV is built around search, with a pop-up search bar, driven by "entertainment-based" search. You type in the query, and the returned results can bridge across cable or satellite programming, recordings from compatible DVRs, Web, apps, and shared home media. So you find a clip on the broadcast schedule, or a subscription service, or on YouTube.

To support search and Web access, Logitech Revue comes with a wireless Keyboard Controller, including compact keyboard, navigation panel, touchpad, and dedicated remote control keys. There's also a palm-sized Mini Controller ($129), or download the free Logitech Harmony app as a smartphone controller for Android and iPhone.

You also can connect the Logitech TV Cam ($149) to make video calls in HD on your big-screen TV. This uses the Logitech Vid app, so you also communicate with computers using a webcam (see earlier post).

See my Home Networked Media Gallery for more on Google TV and Logitech Revue.

    Find the Logitech Revue with Google TV on Amazon.com

October 16, 2010

Apple iPad Coming To Verizon and AT&T Stores

After all the years of rumors about the Apple iPhone coming to Verizon Wireless, the first breach of AT&T's exclusivity is -- the iPad (see my earlier post)!

Yep, the Apple iPad will be available through the over 2,000 Verizon Wireless stores nationwide beginning on Thursday, October 28 (see Verizon iPad site and press release).

But there are a couple details that explain how this has happened ... And how the iPad is also coming to AT&T stores at the same time.

First, Verizon is selling only the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad, and not the models with 3G cellular mobile data service -- so there's no Verizon service plan built in to these iPads.

Instead, Verizon is bundling its MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot with the iPad purchase (see earlier post).

The MiFi is a pocket-sized device that turns a cellular connection into a local Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices. With the MiFi, the iPad can go online, as can your laptop and/or netbook, and/or iPod touch -- all simultaneously sharing the MiFi's 3G mobile broadband service over Wi-Fi.

The MiFi is certainly portable -- about the size of eight stacked credit cards and weighs just over 2 ounces rechargeable battery. It provides up to four hours of active use and 40 hours of standby time on a single charge.

Verizon is pricing these bundles of iPad plus MiFi at $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad, $729 for 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. (This compares to Apple's pricing of $499, $599, and $699 for the Wi-Fi iPad alone. Verizon's current pricing for the MiFi is $269, or $99 with 2 year contract, or free with an online discount.)

So Verizon's bundle pricing is the same as Apple's pricing for the Wi-Fi + 3G models -- but while the MiFi is a separate device, it also can share with up to five devices.

Verizon also will offer all three iPad Wi-Fi models unbundled, apparently at the same price as Apple. So you can use the iPad with any Wi-Fi connection, or with a smartphone that offers Wi-Fi tethering to share the smartphone cellular service as a Wi-Fi cloud (as with some Android 2.2 devices, including the Droid Incredible).

Of course, the ongoing cost is the monthly cellular data service plan. Verizon is offering a monthly plan for iPad customers for up to 1 GB of data for $20 a month. (In comparison, Verizon's data plans for the MiFi alone include $39.99 for 250 MB a month, and $59.99 for 5 GB a month.)

Meanwhile, the three 3G cellular iPad models also will be available at AT&T stores also starting on October 28 (see AT&T press release). These are priced the same as the Apple Store -- $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad, $729 32 GB and $829 64 GB. AT&T offers data plans of 250 MB for $14.99 a month, and 2 GB for $29.99.

See my Apple iPod / iPhone Gallery for details on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod products and product line history.

See my Mobile Communications Gallery for more on the MiFi and mobile data services.

Find the Apple iPad and Verizon Wireless MiFi on Amazon.com

October 17, 2010

LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive

USB has had a great run, living up to its promise as the plug-and-play Universal Serial Bus. But now we demand ever higher data rates, to meet the demands of devices including high-speed data storage, higher-resolution digital cameras, and high-definition video camcorders.

So welcome the new USB 3.0 specification, branded as "SuperSpeed USB," which offers another 10X performance boost from 480 Mbps for USB 2.0 up to 5 Gbps.

The magic with USB 3.0 comes from adding five new wires to the connector, for faster transfer, more efficient communications, and higher power (but also more efficient). Plus, the USB 3.0 redesign permits longer cable lengths, from a typical 2 meters for current USB 2.0 to 3 meters or more with proper shielding.

For a peek at the promise of USB 3.0, I was able to try out the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 portable hard drive. This is available with a 500 GB disk spinning at 7200 rpm for $135, and delivers up to 110 Mbps -- already some three times faster in practice than USB 2.0 even in this first generation.

The drive has a new SuperSpeed USB Micro-B connector, and comes with a cable to plug in to a standard USB connector, so it's compatible with USB 2.0 systems. You can upgrade your existing systems to SuperSpeed with a PCI Card adapter, such as the LaCie USB 3.0 ExpressCard/34 which adds two SuperSpeed USB ports for $60.

In my testing, even simple file copies in Windows Explorer were around two to three times faster than connecting via the built-in USB 2.0 ports on the same laptop -- for example copying 13 GB in 3 minutes compared to 10, or an effective rate around 60 Mbps. That's getting interesting!

See my full article for Videomaker magazine -- USB 3.0: Same Great Interface, Ten Times Faster

See my Portable Storage Gallery for details and comparisons on flash memory cards, USB drives, and hard disk storage.

Find the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Drive on Amazon.com

October 19, 2010

Wireless Gadgets and Trends 2010

I'll be speaking tomorrow, Wed., Oct. 20, to the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce on Wireless Gadgets and Trends 2010: What’s Hot Right Now for Business.

The talk is 7:30 – 9:15 a.m. at Thomas Edison State College, in conjunction with Trenton Small Business Week.

Abstract:
It's the era of the smartphone, not just for always-connected communications and data, but also full-fledged apps. Come explore the new opportunities of this new kind of device that combines the power and display of a portable computer, broadband data access to the almost-infinite resources of the Web, and location-awareness for here and now services.

For a preview of some of this season's devices see my article - Holiday Gadgets 2010: Portable and Wireless

Holiday Gadgets summary ...



Continue reading "Wireless Gadgets and Trends 2010" »


October 23, 2010

Logitech Video Calling with HD Webcams

Apple has just extended its FaceTime video calling application from the iPhone to the Mac -- although it's still not available for Windows.

Meanwhile, Logitech is pursuing a different approach with ts own simple video calling application -- Logitech Vid HD -- Vid is available as a free download, works with any webcam, and is available for both Windows and Macintosh (see earlier post).

And Logitech Vid works in HD, conveniently supporting the new line of Logitech HD webcams. Video calls in HD mean you can capture more detail, see the whole group, whether business or family, and even digital zoom in for close-ups.

Plus Logitech has brought video calling to the set-top with Logitech Revue with Google TV (see earlier post). Google TV combines TV plus the Web, with integrated search, full Web browser, and Android apps. Logitech Revue integrates Google TV with your other home entertainment system components, including simultaneous Web and picture-in-picture TV. Then add the Logitech TV Cam for $149 for video calls with other TVs or webcams, so you can video conference on the big screen.

The Logitech HD webcam line supports video calls in HD 720p (1280 x 720). In particular, the portable Logitech HD Webcam C510 folds up for easy travel for $59, and the top of the line Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910 (shown here) features Carl Zeiss optics with autofocus, dual stereo audio mics, video capture to Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080), and still photos up to 10 megapixels (software enhanced) for $99.

Logitech also bundles an extensive line of webcam software in addition to Vid, including video and photo editing, quick upload to Facebook or YouTube, fun video effects, and even face tracking and facial recognition.

See my Home Networked Media Gallery for more on Google TV and webcams.

Find the Logitech HD Webcam C510 and Webcam C910,
and Logitech Revue with Google TV on Amazon.com

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About October 2010

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