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Category Archives for "Gadgets"

Building an Enclosure: Spray Painting

These days everybody and their granny are hacking technology or building some new gizmo. The humble enclosure in which that shiny new piece of brilliance is to live is often overlooked, but as any good marketer knows, the money is in the design. Today, Desktop Vibes looks at some of the tools needed for successfully spray-painting your new gadget enclosure.

Enclosures come in all shapes, sizes and materials so the tools you need to color your build can largely depend on a number of factors which can vary quite extensively. No one wants to purchase a tool for every kind of paint job that they might encounter so what’s the best equipment to get to make sure that one is covered for most situations? A medium-sized air sprayer like the 1.5mm Neiko HVLP Air Spray Gun or similar air sprayer is the preferred ‘universal’ tool for spray painting. It has a fine nozzle that can be used for both large and small jobs with minimal wastage and mess, and the paint cup size and its air-adjustment valve are ideal for a range of enclosure sizes. Of course you are going to need an air compressor to power the air spray gun which can make the cost of purchase prohibitively expensive for some. However, air compressors can be useful in a variety of DIY and everyday household tasks so you have to balance whether it is worth the mula that you will need to fork out to get one. Air compressors (that can be used for spray painting) come in all shapes and sizes and it is important to make sure that the air compressor can handle the relatively high volume of air that it needs to generate to operate a spray gun effectively. We use a California Air Tools 10020 in the shop and it has been invaluable in producing some very stylish results.

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Microsoft’s SideWinder X6.

Microsoft’s new Sidewinder keyboard, the verdict…insanely awesome. Microsoft’s gaming products have been making a debut as of lately, most notibly with their new Sidewinder X6 keyboard and Sidewinder X5 gaming mouse. Microsoft isn’t exactly known for their gaming products, but it would seem that they’ve done their homework this time around.

The Ultimate Control

The new Sidewinder X6 is fully stocked.  With a backlit keyboard and a detachable number pad that can be programmed for up to 90 Macro’s, the X6 is always up to the task.  As you can see from the pictures, the final products looks awesome. Especially those volume & light controls, which set it apart from your average gaming keyboard. Microsoft said that they didn’t want people having two keyboards on their desks, just one for gaming and another for working.  The X6 is great for both of these tasks.

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Copy & Paste For The iPhone.

Surprisingly, this isn’t from Apple – so don’t get too excited. A company called OpenClip has released what looks to be a new and interesting framework. OpenClip is free, non-profit organisation working with developers to allow the user to copy and paste.

Unfortunately, the framework has only been implemented into a few apps, which include MagicPad, Twittelator and the official WordPress app. Here’s a demo that was shown at GeekBreif.tv.

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The Not So Immortal iPod?

Is the iPod coming to an end?

Back in 2001 during a press event held on Apple’s campus, a new product was introduced – the iPod. On that October day, the iPod gained alot of positive press, as well as negative press. Some reporters even went as far as to saying the iPod would be a bigger failure than the Newton introduced several years prior. But only months away from its seventh birthday, we can all see what a success the iPod really was. As of March 2008, Apple had shipped 180 million of the popular music player.

However, there has been concern that iPod sales are going to be slowing with rapid rate. I’m sure you are aware that Apple recently launched its newest phone, the iPhone 3G, and they sold one million phones within a three day period. That number is incredible compared to how long it took Apple to sell its first million iPods. In my opinion, its only a matter of time before the iPhone starts to outsell the iPod. Every iPhone requires a minimum price of $70 a month. Oh, you want texting? Make that $90. So every iPhone costs $1880 over a two year period.  Compared to a bunch of other phones with a two-year contract, its a deal.

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Good Notebook Speakers

As you may know, speakers inside of laptops are usually quite badly made. It is very hard to make speakers small while retaining sound quality.  When travelling around speakers need to be small, rechargeable or battery powered, and have good sound. I am going to recommend 3 different speakers that I have used. They all have their own strong and weak points.

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Flash Review: Amazon Kindle

What is it?

The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader that allows its users to download new content without the need of a computer. E-book readers have been around for years, but they never quite took off with consumers. However, what sets the Kindle apart from Sony’s e-book readers is the built in Sprint EVDO.  This allows the device to not only surf the web, but download all kinds of books, newspapers and magazines off of Amazon’s online store.

The Story

Several months back, online retail giant Amazon.com released the Amazon Kindle as their first e-book reader. It sold quickly as people thought it was great to be able to not only store hundreds of books, but also to be able to download those books wirelessly. The Kindle has been on the market since November, and has been in many ways, a huge hit for Amazon.

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Green Apples

For awhile now Apple has been trying to go green. They have started making more of their computers aluminum, so that they can be more easily recycled.  If the rumors are correct, then the up and coming Macbook will be all aluminum, adding to the already aluminum Macbook Air and Macbook Pro.

Chemicals

The iPhone is known to contain a few harmful chemicals. Greenpeace has been after Apple to get the chemicals out of the iPhone for our own safety. Brominated compounds make up 10% of the weight of the circuit board, which when burned can create dioxin.  Also found were chlorine and toxic phthalate. The toxic phthalate can interfere with sexual development in mammals. It is a banned chemical in most of Europe, although not in America. The headphones are covered with the hazardous chemical. Hopefully, Apple has taken care of this problem when addressing manufacturing of the iPhone 3G.

Of course, the iPhone is not alone when it comes to harmful chemicals.  However, Apple has made it apparent that they are aware of these issues.  In June of last year, Apple moved its 15″ Macbook Pro to LED back lit screens in an effort to eliminate the use of Mercury.

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Spec Smackdown: Nikon D60 vs. Canon EOS Rebel XSi

Over the past several months, both Canon and Nikon introduced new entry-level Digital SLRs to their lineups. Both brands offer many new features, and better image quality. Boy, these cameras are sweet. Their light, portable, offer stunning image quality, and they are a huge step up from the previous version. It’s a Smackdown!

Round 1: Design

Both the Canon and the Nikon have wonderful design. The XSi features a huge 3 inch screen, while the D60 sports a 2.5 inch display. Being that the Canon uses Live View technology that allows you to see the image on the screen before you press the shutter button, I love the larger screen. Both the XSi, and the D60 feel almost natural to use. The buttons fall right where you would expect them to be, however, being a hardcore EOS 40D user for nearly a year now, I would love to see the addition of a “Quick Control Dial.” The D60 has the shutter button, preset modes, power switch, and command dial all at your index finger, allowing it to be almost identical to its 6.1 megapixel predecessor, the Nikon D40.

Winner: Both camera bring excellent design to the DSLR table. They both have many of the buttons placed on the right side of the unit, allowing your thumb and index fingers to do most of the controlling, without moving your left hand off the lens, making it feel almost natural to use. Canon’s XSi and Nikon’s D60 both get a 9 this round.

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Review: HP Pavilion dv2840tx ‘Artist Edition’

Whilst the casing design won’t appeal to everybody, HP never intentioned the dv2840tx Artist Edition notebook to appeal to the everyday consumer. This notebook is designed to swing a younger crowd into the HP stable – and perhaps even draw some graphic designers away from their MacBooks and into the world of Windows.

The actual casing was designed by Joao Oliviera from Portugal, as part of HP and MTV’s 2007 notebook-design competition. Although thousands of stunning illustrations were sent in, HP has chosen a highly distinctive, and even thought-provoking variant.

The highlights continue under the lid, with the entire screen surrounds and keyboard layout painted a deep brown. In bright lighting this turns a rich chocolate, whilst in a more natural light it is almost black. The keyboard, having a ‘painted’ finish, can feel quite worn at times, but it is very comfortable to use, even during extended typing periods. It is also really well put together, with none of the keys bending and no difference in feel after a real keyboard bashing.

The touchpad is lacquered in a golden bronze finish and although it feels very ’sticky’ at first, especially coming from a MacBook Pro user, it is very functional and accurate for when you are not using an external mouse.The palm rests provide decent grip and do not grow too hot over extended use. They are decorated in a similar fashion to the lid of the notebook.

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