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All posts tagged "hardware"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Isn't it Time to Recycle Those Old Electronics?

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple News" @ 05:00 PM


"This Christmas, there were reportedly nearly 7 million new Android and iOS activations (between December 24 and December 25), which was largely a result of smartphone gift-giving."

Great article on some resources so you know where to go to recycle, or get some cash for those electronics that you have replaced with newer, faster, better versions. I also find that putting them on craigslist seems to work pretty if they are still functional so someone else can get some use out of your newly replaced items. If they aren't functional, check with your local garbage/recycling company for ideas on where to take your non functioning items.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reminder: Audioengine A5+ Speaker Contest Closes on Friday

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 05:00 PM


Just a quick reminder that our giveaway contest to win a set of Audioengine A5+ speakers (valued at $399) wraps up on Friday at noon, so enter now!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Sweet Sound of Quality: Win a Set of $399 Audioengine A5+ Speakers

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 11:00 AM


I may be selling these sites and working full time for HTC now, but who says I can't have a little more fun giving away a great prize before I go? Last week I posted about the new Audioengine A5+ powered desktop speakers; the generous folks at Audioengine have offered up a set of these new speakers for a contest. With dual inputs (3.5mm and RCA, the latter of which is easily converted to an addition 3.5mm input with a cable) and a USB charging port, the A5+ speakers are a great companion to an endless variety of devices: desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and yes, even the humble Zune. Ringing in at $399 USD, these are high-quality speakers that I guarantee will blow you away.

How do you win this contest? Simply post a comment to this discussion thread (one entry per person) telling me what your current audio solution for speakers is and how the Audioengine A5+ speakers will be better. One winner will be randomly selected from amongst all the entries and they'll get to chose either a set of black or white A5+ speakers. Due to the size and weight of this prize, it will only be shipped within the continental USA. The contest will remain open until Friday the 28th at 12 PM mountain time (GMT -7).

Best of luck everyone, and I look forward to reading some interesting entries. :-)

UPDATE: The contest is now over, and the winner is ITforSmallBiz. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Audioengine Introduces A5+ Premium Powered Speaker System

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:31 PM


"The Audioengine 5+ (A5+) active speakers deliver audiophile-quality sound and features at a price that continues to set the standard for affordable high-quality audio. Connect your iDevice, computer, TV, or any other audio component for great stereo sound. The goal of Audioengine is to give our customers a high-end listening experience at affordable prices with easy to use, high-quality products. The Audioengine 5 powered speaker system was Audioengine's flagship model and has become a best seller, winning numerous awards along the way. The new A5+ incorporates the same award-winning design as the original A5 but includes customer-requested upgrades and features."

Bar none, Audioengine makes the best speakers I've heard at any similar price point. They simply sound incredible - I reviewed the original A5's back in 2007, and they still sound as good today as they did back then (actually, even better since I bought an Audioengine S8 subwoofer and added it to the mix). With the built-in 3.5mm input jack, they make a great accessory for smartphones, MP3 players, laptops, tablets, etc. I love the sound of AudioEngine speakers so much I have three pairs of their smaller A2 units in my home office. You get the point. :-) AudioEngine's release of the new A5+ speakers brings with it a $50 price increase, making them a pricey accessory at $399, but a set of speakers like this will last for years, through multiple computer upgrades.

What's new about the A5+ over the previous A5's? To quote Audioengine, "advance tuned cabinet with rear-ported waveguide, improved thermal management, upgraded speaker connector binding posts,remote control, variable preamp line out, RCA and mini-jack inputs, and new stand-mount 1/4" threaded inserts". I don't see anything in that list that would make me want to replace my A5's, but if I buy another set of speakers, I'll take a serious look at the A5+ speakers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Passing of Zune Made Official

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 02:20 AM


"We recently announced that, going forward, Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy, and that we will no longer be producing Zune players. So what does this mean for our current Zune users? Absolutely nothing. Your device will continue to work with Zune services just as it does today. And we will continue to honor the warranties of all devices for both current owners and those who buy our very last devices."

The above statement is from the Zune support page, and the above image from Engadget tells the story. Microsoft will not be making any more Zune hardware. The Zune HD was, and is, a truly great audio player. When I travel I take mine with me because I enjoy having a dedicated audio device. I especially enjoy not caring if I run down the battery on it during a long flight - and I can't say that for my phone. I can't go out and buy a Windows Phone 7 device with 64 GB of storage either, so there's not a true replacement product on the market today. It's not like we didn't see this coming a long way out, but it's still unfortunate to see.

While there are adequate portable media players from the likes of Creative, Archos, etc. none of them have the simplicity of being able to sync with the Zune desktop software. Going back to the days of dragging and dropping folders and manually managing a music collection is a big step backwards in my opinion...the Zune software does a great job at making it easy.

Zune hardware, you could have been a contender. You'll be missed.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

V-MODA Vibrato Headphones Reviewed: They're Worth It

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

If you've ever shopped for headphones, you've likely come across V-MODA. They make a variety of headphones in different price segments, but I've never reviewed any of them until now. I was offered the chance to review the V-MODA Vibrato headphones ($129.99 USD from Amazon), and since I'd heard good things about V-MODA headphones, I said yes. I'm glad I did, though that conclusion took some time to get to. Confused? Keep reading. Read more...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Zune Design That Never Was?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 10:48 PM


Pictured above is the Zune That Never Was. It was a design, created by people at Microsoft, for a product that looked like it would compete with the iPod Nano. Worth noting is that the patent application has one name on it that jumped out at me: Albert Shum. He happens to be Mr. Windows Phone Design. This looks like it would have filled the role of a small media player perfect for jogging, working out, etc. - basically any scenario where the primary purpose was strictly to listen to music or podcasts. The Zune HD hardware is fantastic; I'd have loved to have seen how this little one would have turned out...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mango Will Take Windows Phone's Zune Experience Up a Notch

Posted by Nelson Ocampo in "Windows Phone News" @ 10:00 PM


"It appears the leaks were true. Zune on Windows Phone Mango has received a nice update. Using the Mango emulator provided with the Windows Phone Developer Tools, we were able to access certain hidden features like Bing Vision, Bing Audio, Local Scout, and more."

picture from anythingbutiphone.com

In addition to some beautiful cosmetic changes, it appears that we'll also be seeing some key functionality improvements to bring it on par with the Zune HD device. My favorite improvement would be the visibility of the music playing controls on the lock screen. Sure, it's not that hard to press "power" and then "volume" to get to the controls right now, but this is a slight bit of streamlining that I surely will appreciate. The ability to have the artist's imagery on the lock screen when their music is playing is also a pretty nifty feature.Click the link to find out more about some other functionality and podcast support.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Win an LG Quantum Windows Phone 7

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone Events" @ 12:00 PM

Just a quick reminder that we're running a free phone give-away: there's an unlocked LG Quantum up for grabs. It's fast and easy to enter; all you need is a YouTube account. Check out this post for more details.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Look Ma, No Hands! The PodFlexPro Reviewed

Posted by Matthew Shanks in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

Travelling light is a challenge for many people. Travelling light if you're a technology buff is next to impossible. Between laptops, netbooks, cameras, phones, iPods, iPads, cords and chargers, many travellers now carry a bag filled with just their grown-up toys. Add a toddler into the mix and you have a recipe for carry-on luggage trouble. I found myself in this situation not too long ago travelling on vacation with my wife and daughter on a long flight (just shy of seven hours). I knew keeping an 18 month old toddler amused (not to mention myself) on such a lengthy flight would be a challenge, so I stuffed my gadget bag and off we went. Read more...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Update: Zune is Alive and Well!

Posted by Steven McPherson in "Windows Phone Software" @ 07:30 PM


Okay, clearly we've all jumped the gun and read far too much into the article our friends at Bloomberg posted yesterday. Zune is NOT dead and is clearly alive and well, according to Dave Mclauchlan, Senior Business Development Manager for Zune Hardware. "I've had tweets, emails, PMs and phone calls. People offering condolences, checking in on me, etc... etc... Stop, stop, stop!" stated Mr. McLauchlan in a post earlier today. Sorry Zune, we didn't mean to communicate your time-of-death prior to your heart actually being stopped. Really, we didn't.

That said, I have to believe that the Zune hardware has to evolve. Its latest hardware release, the Zune HD, is an older one (18 months old) and is in desperate need of new applications. While its probably the best sounding and overall portable music and video experience on the market, its content needs to evolve or it needs to die as a hardware platform.

Microsoft is clear that the Zune hardware platform for this year is Windows Phone 7. That's the right message. The Windows Phone platform has content and thriving marketplace of over 10,000 applications and games, subscription music and video galore. If Microsoft is truly going to succeed in the portable media player market they need to evolve the Zune Media player platform to consume applications, games and content from the same marketplace. Music. Check. Video. Check. Applications. Not so much.

Hopefully over the next few months Microsoft will become more clear how the Zune hardware platform will evolve, but I'm glad to hear that I shouldn't be laying my lovely silver Zune to rest any time soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Microsoft Kills Zune Hardware? Its All About the Software!

Posted by Steven McPherson in "Windows Phone Software" @ 05:30 PM


"According to Bloomberg, a "person familiar with the decision" has confirmed that Microsoft won't be producing any new Zune media players, and that the company will instead focus solely on the Zune software that already has a foothold on the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone devices (it's not clear if the name will stick around)."

No confirmation from Microsoft yet, but it appears that Microsoft has decided to pitch the standalone media player hardware in favor of focusing on the software platform that has already been integrated into the wildly successful XBOX and the Windows Phone 7 platforms. Microsoft is said to be working on project "Ventura" that will provide cloud based music and media services to PCs, TVs and mobile devices. Could "Ventura" be part of Microsoft future media strategy?

I love my Zune so this will be a tough one to swallow but since my Windows Phone 7 is able to consume all of the Zune media just as well, I think that most users will be fine. While its not even speculated that Microsoft would discontinued Zune support within the Marketplace, it would be great if Microsoft would partner with outside hardware developers to provide standalone media player integration with the popular Zune service. Keeping the hardware devices "fresh" should still be important to the future media platform strategy. Only time will tell. Hopefully Microsoft will provide more clarity and confirm their future media platform strategy in the coming weeks.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zune Originals for Canada...Not Quite Ready Yet

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 03:50 PM

When we reported last week that Zune Originals were now available for Canadians to order from, well, it seems that wasn't exactly true. Zune Thoughts reader Bob tried to order one, but the US site doesn't allow for the input of Canadian provinces. When he tried to toggle the location to Canada, the site fails to load. He contacted Zune tech support about the issue, and this was their response:

"Dear Bob,

Thank you for your inquiry. The Zune HD devices have recently become available to Canadian customers. Unfortunately, the Canadian Zune Store website is currently under construction to accommodate the new changes. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes you. We recommend periodically checking the website, it should be up and running by next week.

Welcome to the Social!

Rebecca C
The Zune Originals Team"

So it seem like the announcement from the Zune team was a bit premature - no Zune Originals for us Canucks just yet!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Zune Originals Now Available in Canada

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 11:21 AM


The Zune HD came out in September 2009. A year and a half later, it's now going to be available officially in Canada via the Zune Originals Web site. Nice to see, but is it too late for anyone to care? It's 2011 and while I still believe the Zune HD is a great media player, technology marches onward and the first-generation Tegra hardware and low-resolution screen don't exactly stack up well against an iPod Touch 4G with a Retina display. I've been wish for some news on the Zune hardware front, but this wasn't what I was expecting. And it kind of seems like Microsoft has quit updating the Zune originals series - look at the Xbox games collection...there's nothing current in there.

Yeah, I'm a little grumpy about the state of Zune. :-(

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z Giveaway Contest Ends Soon!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 03:06 PM


Just a quick reminder that the giveaway contest for a Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z is ending in roughly three hours - this all-in-one desktop computer worth $1308 USD is a fast, capable computer that would be perfect for a variety of scenarios and locations - check out my full review here. Enter the contest now!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Win a Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z Worth $1308 USD!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 03:00 PM

I'm a couple days late getting this contest launched - things have been hectic - but here we go! I have a top-spec Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z to give away to one lucky Thoughts Media reader/YouTube viewer.

Here are the three things you have to do to be entered in this contest:

  1. Subscribe to our YouTube channel
  2. Post a comment on the YouTube contest video telling me how/where you'd use this computer. Don't post the comment here on Digital Home Thoughts though, only on the YouTube video.
  3. Favorite the contest video on YouTube (instructions how are in the video)

That's it! One entry per person, and the contest closes at 5 PM GMT -7 on December 13th, 2010. Good luck everyone - the winner will be chosen randomly from amongst all the comments posted. The winner will be contacted via YouTube direct message, and will have 48 hours to respond back to me to claim their prize. If the winner hasn't fulfilled all three of the requirements above, I'll pick someone else.

Please note: due to shipping constraints, this contest is open to people in North America only. You guys know I always try to do world-wide contests, but this is a physically BIG prize so as you can imagine shipping world-wide would be a bit problematic.

Remember this contest is part of a much bigger contest with 20 other sites, so be sure to check out the other contests that are happening right now!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What's the Future of Zune Hardware?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 06:14 PM


"With Windows Phone 7 finally out, what does the future hold for Microsoft's line of Zune media players? I suspect that very few people outside of Redmond are asking themselves that question right now-and that anybody who does care assumes that the Zune HD will turn out to be the final stand-alone Zune. (Like all the other Zunes before it, the HD suffered from a malady I like to think of as "Gee, this is quite a good product, but it's in a class of devices that people lost interest in a year ago" syndrome.) Me, I'm hoping for a new Zune soon-maybe several of them. Hold on, hear me out, I'm serious."

I've been muttering about this one for a while: if Microsoft doesn't come out with a media player that's basically a chassis 1 Windows Phone 7 without the phone, they're missing a vital opportunity. If they want to build an ecosystem, they need to both offers consumers connected and non-connected models, and they need to offer developers the most populated platform they can - everything possible capable of running their software. The Zune HD is a great device, but people want apps and enhanced functionality beyond just the basics, and the Zune HD can't deliver that right now (no, the 30 apps so far on the Zune HD really don't count - the damn thing still can't view YouTube videos).

One catch here is that the baseline Windows Phone 7 spec has a lot more ooomph than the Zune HD - a 1 Ghz processor and bigger, higher resolution screen won't come cheap - so if Microsoft can only offer this type of product at the $499 price point, well, that's going to fail...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sunny Days: Staying Connected with the Monaco Solar Cell Charger

Posted by Don Tolson in "Windows Phone Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

Product Category: Accessories -- Solar powered cell phone charger
Manufacturer: Monaco
Where to Buy: WirelessGround.com
Price: $79.95 USD (regularly, but may be on sale...)
Specifications: Battery Capacity: 1800mAh; Weight: 93.5 grams / 3.3 oz; Dimensions: 55.5 x 105.8 x 14.5mm.


  • Convenient, lightweight;
  • Charges quickly in sunlight;
  • Suitable for almost any type of USB-powered device.


  • Regular price is a bit high, but vendor seems to be having discount sales;
  • Depending upon the consumption of your unit, the battery may only provide one day of use.

Summary: There are lots of emergency power accessories and options available for phones, games systems, music players, etc. but most suffer from a common shortcoming -- lack of power when you need them most, far away from a wall socket. Enter Monaco, with a different spin on a solution. Instead of providing just a battery or set of solar cells, why not combine them into a single package - a wall or solar chargeable battery pack!


Friday, September 17, 2010

ZuneHD2 on the Way?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:48 PM


It's that time of year again. New iPods are out, and the next generation Zunes can't be far behind. Or can they? There's been a great deal of talk whether the Zune HD will be the last or second to last hardware Zune Microsoft produces. It's clear Zune's future lies in a platform, on PC, Xbox and Windows Phone, but a new Hardware version may have something to offer that the last few iterations couldn't. WMPowerUser via Engadget seems to think that an MS job posting for a hardware specialist focusing on “next generation of portable entertainment and communication devices” has something to do with a Microsoft-produced PMP or phone handset. Given the success of the iPod/iTunes same foundation in iOS (and to a similar extent the UI innovations from Zune HD that eventually made their way to WP7), it makes sense for Microsoft to consolidate the media player and phone OS teams. If Microsoft can produce a phone-less Windows Phone 7 the way Apple has with the iPod Touch they may have a chance, albeit a small one. Microsoft and Apple have already killed off their once-popular dedicated harddrive-based players in favor of multifunction touchscreen models (iPod shuffle notwithstanding). And after the Kin debacle, I can't imagine Microsoft bigwigs are in a hurry to reenter the consumer dumbphone market with an in-house handset. As exciting as it would be to have a cheaper, contract-less Windows Phone for apps, music and video, the platform has at most one or two more iterations before being killed off. Is it even viable for Microsoft to release another ZuneHD at this point?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ultrasone Wants to Save Your Ears

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 11:45 AM


Ever since the advent of the Walkman, researchers have been warning us that we're all about to go deaf. I don't know if those fears have been realized yet since I still don't hear about scores of the Walkman generation showing up for hearing aids. Maybe people have been heeding the warnings!

Whatever the case, the warnings have hardly abated over the years and there's been new warnings and research that has come out recently that shows that hearing loss in teens is on the rise. This really isn't surprising to me since as we've transitioned to digital music its become trivial to have your entire library of music in your pocket.

The challenge is finding a way to play your music at lower levels and still enjoy it the same. There does come a point where you start to lose things in the music if you can't put the volume high enough. Of course, if you make yourself deaf trying to find all the subtle nuances of your heavy metal, it may end up as a moot point eventually.

Ultrasone says that they have the answer with their S-Logic technology. They claim that it can decrease pressure on your inner ear by up to 40% which is definitely a pretty positive thing. Not only that, but Ultrasone says that because it delivers the sound more naturally, that your listening experience will actually be improved.

Safety and quality come at a price, however. Ultrasone only appears to provide over the ear headphones and all start at over $100 and go up into the thousands. If you're an extreme audiophile who demands the best listening experience and and want to ensure your hearing safety, this could be the answer for you. Its a pretty expensive solution for what is, admittedly, a pretty significant issue.

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